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Communities and universities

People, Place and Public Engagement at Signal Hill Campus

By Rebecca Cohoe

Last month, Memorial’s Signal Hill Campus hosted its first international conference.

Delegates from across Canada and around the world met on the hill for People, Place and Public Engagement to explore community-university collaboration. The conference was organized by Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement (OPE), with support from a programming committee that included a broad range of Memorial’s units and public partners.

Delegates watch an interactive presentation on the signature staircase of the Emera Innovation Exchange.
Photo: Submitted

“Ensuring that we include representation from both Memorial and the community is how we do things,” said Sandy Brennan, manager, public engagement supports, OPE, and conference chair. “This conference was for both academics and community practitioners of public engagement, and we wanted to make sure that both groups would see themselves in our programming.”

About 190 people registered for the conference, including students, faculty, and university staff from across Canada, along with people from a number of public and community organizations, including the Canadian History Museum, the National Energy Board, the Government of Nunatsiavut, Choices for Youth, the St. John’s Farmers’ Market and many others.

“This was an opportunity to share ideas, develop new connections and foster collaboration towards a sustainable rural future,” said delegate Valencia Gaspard, president of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation.

Widespread engagement

The planning process included university and public groups, and a significant number of students, faculty and members of the public received support to attend the conference. In addition, more than 100 members of the public registered for one of four free, public sessions offered, with topics including entrepreneurship, community wellness and inclusion.

Several of the sessions were also webcast, allowing people from across the province and the country to participate in conversations about the current state of community-university collaboration, and where it should go from here.

One of the conference’s most significant highlights was a keynote address from President Natan Obed of Inuit Tapariit Kanatami (ITK). The address was webcast live and explored the governance structures of Canadian Inuit and the ITK’s framework related to academic research in Inuit communities.

You can view President Obed’s address below.

The conference was supported by a number of sponsors, including Parks Canada, Memorial University, Research Impact Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Alt Hotels, Newfoundland Power, Johnson Insurance and the Swearer Centre at Brown University.

Presentations from the concurrent sessions will be available on the conference website in the near future.

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