Office of the President

Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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Engaging Communities: What's Next?

June 14, 2017

A major goal of SFU’s Strategic Vision is “to be Canada’s most community-engaged research university.” Thanks to the dedication of our faculty, staff and students, plus the support of our community partners, alumni and friends, we have come a long way over the past five years toward realizing this goal.

In Vancouver, SFU Public Square has helped to establish SFU as a go-to convener for dialogue on issues of public concern. SFU Woodward’s Cultural & Community Programs provide a wide range of cultural and educational offerings, and the Vancity Office of Community Engagement supports over 200 community events each year. Other community programs at SFU Vancouver include public lectures, Philosophers' Cafés, poetry readings, and film screenings, and many of these are free to attend.

In Surrey, SFU offers a plethora of programs, events and activities to benefit the South Fraser region, including those provided by the SFU Surrey - TD Community Engagement Centre. One recent initiative of particular note has SFU working with the City of Surrey and other Lower Mainland communities to support refugee newcomers to Canada through the Refugee Working Group.

On Burnaby Mountain, our engaged faculty deliver an impressive array of outreach programs to school children and the general public. The K-12 Science in Action and Science AL!VE programs are two great examples of school-age workshops designed to inspire the next generation of scientists. SFU Science also hosts Starry Nights star parties at the Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard, where budding astronomers can ‘engage the universe.’

The university also works with community groups to mount conferences and festivals. Last month, for example, SFU hosted C²UExpo: For the Common Good – a five-day conference designed to advance community-university partnerships attended by 600 delegates from across Canada and around the world.  And we recently partnered with the City of Burnaby to deliver the Burnaby Festival of Learning, and with the City of Vancouver to present the Hopeful Economics conference.

In addition, SFU Continuing Studies continues to provide many non-credit programs to enrich the community, such as the Social Innovation Certificate, the Community Capacity Building Certificate, and courses for those 55 and older.

These are just a few examples of the community engagement activities taking place at SFU – participation in which has grown over recent years. Close to 60,000 people attended SFU events in 2014-15, about four times as many as in 2010-11. 

However we want to do an even better job of engaging communities in the years to come – and we are asking for your input. Our online Engaging the Vision survey page is live until June 30, so tell us what you’d like to see in the future of community engagement at SFU.

Submit your feedback – and get ready to engage, engage, engage.