5 Key Values for Bridging Global and Local Community Engagement Practices

These values are one section of a three-part guide designed for anyone interested in how virtual partnerships work, how they can be integrated with community engagement and/or experiential learning, and how they can enrich university-level courses. This guide was developed by Samantha Blostein, Global Engagement Specialist with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute and the Guelph Institute of Development Studies.

1. Practice equity

  • Emphasize that community members should have equitable access to decision-making processes, resources, and the benefits of community engagement projects, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, country of origin, class, religion, sexual orientation, geographic location, income, age, and ability [1].
  • Support partners with financial resources and other resources from the university and beyond, such as the University of Guelph Learning Enhancement Fund, College of Social and Applied Human Sciences Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) Grant and the CESI Community Engaged Learning Fund.
  • Identify and overcome potential barriers to participation. For example, if partners or students have limited internet access, identify potential funding opportunities to provide financial support to use hotspot technology or a conference landline service.
  • Utilize knowledge mobilization to ensure that project findings reach intended audiences.
  • Provide language translation for research outputs if necessary.

2. Analyze contexts of identity, diversity, and power dynamics

  • Honour the knowledge that exists in the people and the land.
  • Assess local and regional history and context about topics such as colonialism, the ongoing legacies of colonization, race relations, and class tensions.
  • Evaluate how intersectionality, identity, diversity, power dynamics, and leadership function in other cultures and societies.
  • Understand privilege and oppression in cross-cultural settings.
  • Respect differences and diversity.
  • Mobilize local leaders and champions to engage community members in community-building and capacity development.

3. Raise awareness of global affairs

  • Consider the implications of global politics, world issues, and current affairs on the partner’s local context.
    • For instance, aid and development, trade, foreign policy, relationships between political entities, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, and the wider global system.

4. Promote intercultural competence and communication

  • Build skills to respectfully and appropriately communicate with people of other cultures, backgrounds, and identities.
  • Be mindful of language translation and the ethics of translation. Make space for informed consent and the development of participatory approaches [2]. This approach can help achieve local support for the research and sustainable interventions that result from the research and engagement processes.

5. Join global to local through experiential learning and community engagement

  • The growth of interest in combined global and local issues is due to an increased university focus on community engagement and the needs of vulnerable local communities [3].
  • Train students to understand the interconnectedness of health and social concerns and the need for culturally appropriate solutions. Such knowledge may foster greater humility, empathy, and ties between health care and community development professionals and communities [4].
  • Give thoughtful attention to dignity in representation, reflexivity, and positionality when linking the experiences of other people and communities.
  • Instructors must emphasize combined global/local community engagement rather than only local or global. Such an emphasis will encourage students to perceive the endless possibilities to link communities together to address injustices, understand relationality, and nurture responsibility effectively [5].


[1] Algoma University. (2016). Community economic and social development field education manual – CESD guiding principles.

[5] Houston, S. D., & Lange, K. (2017). “Global/local” community engagement: Advancing integrative learning and situated solidarity. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 42(1), 44-60.

[2] [3] Lynch, D. & Mitchell, M. (2010). Community engagement and the ethics of global, translational research: A response to Sofaer and Eyal. The American Journal of Bioethics 10(8), 37-38.

[4] Rowthorn, V. (2015, September 13). Global/local: Much discussed, little understood, and the right thing to do. Campus Compact. Retrieved from https://compact.org/globallocal-much-discussed-little-understood-and-the-right-thing-to-do-2/.