Module 7: Introduction

This module brings together core concepts introduced previously in the course, which have focused on: the psychology of climate communications; strategic communications; dialogue; and interdisciplinary or cross-sectoral collaboration. The term community engagement also spans this range of approaches, from an emphasis on informing and consulting to one that is motivated by goals of transformative change through co-creative partnership and relationship building. Similarly, the contexts in which community engagement occurs range from a focused consultation on a particular project or topic to a broad-based planning process. The readings and case studies provided in this module reflect this breadth, spanning tools for the visualization of climate impacts to values-based planning processes to transformative practices for shifting power.

As with any strategic endeavour, a good starting place is often an interrelated set of questions around purpose and desired outcome(s); principles and values; and resources and capacity. The International Association of Public Participation’s (IAP2) Spectrum of Engagement, as well as Movement Strategy’s Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership (Gonzalez, n.d.) both provide frameworks for this kind of strategic reflection, along with implications for the kinds of engagement activities that might follow.

Both these resources are structured around the purpose for engagement, with less participatory processes at one end, and moving towards highly collaborative, power sharing methods at the other. For each element, the frameworks describe corresponding commitments that are being made to those you’re seeking to engage. This provides an entry point into more tactical questions about methods and resources needed to fulfill that purpose and commitment. When considering the approach, it is critical to reflect honestly on the degree to which you can likely fulfill the commitment of time and resources it may entail. Engagement work is built on trust; trust that the expectations set up around the engagement relationship will be fulfilled. This can mean that the questions being asked are genuine inquiries, that the responses or input will be listened to, that the outcomes will be communicated, or that the plan itself has room to be shaped by those most impacted.


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Strategic Dialogue and Engagement for Climate Adaptation Copyright © by Simon Fraser University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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