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Community Engagement

Collaborating for Change

Jennifer Chizek, Christie Donahue, Kelly Kowatch, Katie Lopez, Carrie Luke, and Danyelle J. Reynolds

Now more than ever, people are seeking ways to affect change in their communities — both locally and around the world. This course is for anyone — from novices to experienced practitioners — who wants to work more effectively with community members and organizations, including through, but not limited to:

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Now more than ever, people are seeking ways to affect change in their communities — both locally and around the world. This course is for anyone — from novices to experienced practitioners — who wants to work more effectively with community members and organizations, including through, but not limited to:

  • community-academic partnerships
  • social change projects
  • community service and learning
  • education and work abroad
  • traditional and community-based participatory research
  • non-profit internships
  • public scholarship
  • civic performance

Prepare in advance or take this course simultaneously to get the most out of your experience by engaging with communities ethically, respectfully, and sustainably.

Developed by a highly interdisciplinary team of U-M content experts and faculty, this course is designed to be both engaging and challenging, offering an accessible entry into foundational topics as well as a jumping off point to pursue work and further learning in effective community engagement. It is also a toolkit and a roadmap that offers concrete takeaways and resources for working effectively with communities.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn from experienced U-M students, faculty, and staff and local community partners, and you’ll have many opportunities to try out and apply the principles and concepts you’re learning.

No prior community engagement experience necessary.

What's inside

Learning objectives

  • Valuing community context and expertise;
  • Understanding how social identities, power, and privilege impact your interactions;
  • Approaches to collaborative leadership, such as listening effectively, resolving conflicts, and building mutually-beneficial partnerships;
  • Reflecting on your work, and transitioning in and out of communities; and
  • Effectively managing community-engaged projects
  • Key concepts and strategies you’ll learn:


Course Modules:
Introduction to Community Engagement
Community Context and Ethical Engagement
Social Identities, Power, and Privilege
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Collaborative Leadership
Reflections and Transitions
Community-Engaged Project Management

Good to know

Know what's good
, what to watch for
, and possible dealbreakers
Engages even experienced practitioners wanting to enhance community engagement practices
Designed by experts, offering both foundational understanding and practical tools for community engagement
Provides opportunities to connect with U-M faculty, staff, and community partners
Applicable to a wide range of community engagement endeavors, including partnerships, social change projects, and education abroad
No prior community engagement experience required, making it accessible to beginners

Save this course

Save Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change to your list so you can find it easily later:

Reviews summary

Community collaborations learning

Learners say that this course is insightful and rewarding. The work is collaborative, giving learners the opportunity to help their communities while developing their skills.
Learners gain new insights and experiences.
"It boosted my insight and experience, i have learned a lot while working with community members."
Learners work together to find solutions.
"Trying my best to highlight and resolve their issues."
Engaging work and chance to work with community
"I have experienced a great joy which working with community, ot has provided me an opportunity to serve the community at local level."

Career center

Learners who complete Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change will develop knowledge and skills that may be useful to these careers:
Community Organizer
Organizers are community engagement professionals. They develop and execute projects, build relationships, and increase civic engagement. This course can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to do this role effectively. It may be particularly helpful if you're seeking work with local organizations or in a specific policy area.
Grant Writer
Grant writers are usually focused on securing funding for programs that improve the lives of people. To do this effectively, you need to understand your target organizations and their communities. This course can provide you with the knowledge to establish relationships and gather community support. This will allow you to write stronger, more persuasive grant proposals.
Program Manager
In this career, you oversee and coordinate projects and programs for organizations and communities. Often, these programs are intended to address community issues. This course can help you gain an understanding of how to work with communities and manage projects effectively. It can also provide you with strategies for collaboration and building sustainable relationships.
Community Liaison
As a liaison, you will be the bridge between organizations and communities. You will help these groups understand each other, work in tandem, and build trust. This course will give you strategies and tools for collaborating with diverse members of communities. It will also help you build relationships and create positive change.
Policy Analyst
In this role, you research, analyze, and develop policies. You do this at local, regional, and national levels. Your work often has a direct impact on communities and their members. This course can help you understand and engage with the communities that are affected by your work.
Nonprofit Program Manager
As part of a nonprofit, you may collaborate with community partners to meet community needs. This course can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to work effectively with these groups. It can also help you build and maintain collaborative relationships with outside organizations.
Social Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs in this field start businesses that address social issues. They may work on projects that aim to improve healthcare, education, or environmental sustainability. For your venture to be successful, you must understand the communities you are trying to serve. This course may provide you with the tools you need to effectively engage with these communities.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Manager
Many community engagement roles are similar to D&I management. For either position, you must understand social identities and power, and how to create an inclusive environment. This course covers these subjects and more. It would be a good option if you want to work at the intersection of community and diversity issues.
Sustainability Manager
Sustainability managers work within businesses and organizations to implement sustainable practices and reduce their environmental impact. This course will help you develop the skills to engage with communities, manage projects, and build sustainable relationships. These skills are essential for sustainability managers who want to create lasting change.
Public Administrator
Your role as an administrator is to ensure programs, services, and policies are run effectively. This can include working with communities to develop and implement programs. The knowledge you gain in this course could help you engage with community members, manage projects, and build productive partnerships.
Social Worker
In this role, you work with people and communities to help them improve their lives. You need to understand social issues, human behavior, and how to build relationships. This course may help you develop skills in collaboration, project management, and cultural awareness, which are all useful in this field.
Urban Planner
Urban planners play a role in community development, sustainability, and environmental issues. In this role, you must understand the dynamics of communities to design and implement community projects and programs effectively. This course would provide the foundation you need to understand the contexts of communities you work with. It will also help you lead collaborative projects and manage your work more effectively.
Archivists preserve and manage historical records. You make these records accessible to people for research, educational, and other purposes. This may include working with members of a community to collect oral histories and documents that help tell the community's story. This course may give you the tools you need to understand and work effectively with communities.
Instructional Designer
Instructional designers typically work on educational programs and tools. For programs that teach about social change or are intended to be used by communities, course materials should incorporate the concepts and issues you will learn in this course. It can help you design more effective learning experiences.
Environmental Scientist
Understanding communities is an important part of environmental science. These projects often happen in local communities, and you need skills to communicate with those who may be affected. This course may help you build a foundation of knowledge relating to communities and how to work with them on projects.

Reading list

We've selected eight books that we think will supplement your learning. Use these to develop background knowledge, enrich your coursework, and gain a deeper understanding of the topics covered in Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change.
Provides a comprehensive overview of community engagement, covering the principles, practices, and tools needed to effectively engage with communities.
Explores the concept of collective impact, which is essential for achieving large-scale social change.
Provides a framework for understanding cultural humility, which is essential for effective community engagement with diverse populations.
Explores the concept of the civic commonwealth, which is relevant to community engagement in a variety of contexts.
Offers a critical perspective on local knowledge in development, which is relevant to community engagement in a global context.


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