Carnegie Community Engagement Canadian Pilot

The Canadian Pilot of the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification

At UBC, we need to know more about how we engage with communities.

Together with a cohort of 15 Canadian universities and colleges from across the country, UBC is piloting the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification (CEC) to do just that.

Through this pilot we hope to learn about the barriers and challenges to our collaborations and partnerships with community, and will be at the forefront of an important national conversation about how universities and communities can work better together.

NEWS: UBC Embarks on Canada-wide initiative to assess community engagement

UBC’s involvement in the pilot directly supports Strategy 20 (Coordinated Engagement) in our strategic plan, marking a key first step in the university’s efforts to assess commitments and activities related to community engagement.

What is the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification (CEC)?

The Carnegie CEC is the leading framework for institutional assessment and recognition of community engagement in U.S. higher education. For the past 13 years, it has asked US-based post-secondary institutions to focus on how higher education can facilitate and support community-engaged work.

It involves a rigorous process of collecting and documenting important information related to institutional mission, identity and commitments and is intended to support institutional learning and transformation, with a key focus on outcomes and impacts of community engagement work.

While classification is currently only available to U.S. institutions, the Canadian pilot is a unique opportunity for participating Canadian institutions to understand how such a tool is constructed and to inform the co-creation of a distinct Canadian framework.

Pilots have or are taking place in Ireland and in Australia.

What is the Canadian pilot and how will it work?

The Canadian pilot of the CEC is a multi-phase initiative that is focused on informing the co-creation of a Canadian framework for assessing and advancing community engagement at post-secondary institutions. By participating in this work together, the cohort has established a network of Canadian institutions that will continue to work together to adapt the Carnegie framework to the Canadian context and drive institutional change.

In phase one, each institution will complete the existing Carnegie CEC application to understand its strengths and weaknesses in the Canadian context. Phase one is a test of the existing Carnegie process and cannot result in classification for Canadian institutions.

During phase one, UBC will coordinate across campus and with some community partners to collect data and co-construct narratives about community engagement at UBC.

VIEW: Carnegie Community Engagement Classification Documentation Framework

In phase two, the Canadian cohort will share key findings from the process, assess the suitability of the process to the Canadian context and decide whether to co-develop a uniquely Canadian framework, one that UBC may adopt to assess its own community engagement commitments and activities.

Which other Canadian institutions are in the cohort?

The Canadian Pilot Cohort (CPC) is comprised of the following 16 post-secondary institutions:

When will it happen?

Phase 1 (2019-2021): Participating institutions complete the existing CEC tool:

  • Feb 2019: Participate in initial convening
  • Mar 2019–Nov 2020: Develop plan, collect data, prepare application
  • Dec 2020: Submit application
  • Jan-Mar 2021: Carnegie reviews application
  • Spring 2021: Host individual site visits by the Carnegie Foundation team
  • TBD: Participate in closing convening

Phase 2 (2021-2022): Cohort considers potential structure and benefits of a Canadian framework. If there is interest, the cohort will aim to implement a Canadian framework by 2022.

Phase 3 (TBD): UBC adopts Canadian framework and performs assessment of community engagement activities.

Who is involved?

UBC’s participation has been endorsed by President Ono, and is co-sponsored by the UBC Vancouver Vice-President Academic/Provost and the Vice-President External Relations.

The vice-presidents of Research & Innovation, Students, and Development and Alumni Engagement, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UBC Okanagan have assigned representatives to participate in this initiative.

How does it support UBC’s strategic plan?

UBC’s involvement in the CEC directly supports Strategy 20 (Coordinated Engagement) in UBC’s Strategic Plan, Shaping UBC’s Next Century. By participating in the pilot, UBC will have started a systematic mapping of community engagement activities at the university, a key first step toward developing the “systems and processes that routinely assess institutional commitments and activities related to community engagement.”

The Canadian cohort has already identified that the Carnegie Engagement Classification does not reflect or recognize university engagement with Indigenous communities. The cohort has identified Indigenous engagement as an important part of any Canadian classification and will be consulting closely with Indigenous partners and knowledge keepers to develop a classification tool that reflects the partnerships and unique role of Indigenous communities at our institutions. From a UBC perspective, the Indigenous Strategic Plan will be an important input informing and shaping this work.


If you would like to know more, contact Ryan Brown, advisor, UBC Community Engagement (