Overview: What is Community Engagement?

photo of kids at a drinking fountain

Community engagement is a type of public participation that involves people in problem-solving or decision-making processes. It is a multifaceted, ongoing process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as "the process of working collaboratively with groups of people who are affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being." From Principles of Community Engagement, 2011 [Attn: Non-MDH site].

Community engagement is a strong value and fundamental practice of public health. The importance of engaging the community is grounded in the belief that the public has a right to participate. The public health community believes that by using our "collective intelligence" and working together, we will more accurately identify problems and develop more elegant and effective solutions. We also believe that conflict will be minimized if people have had a chance to "buy into" the process.

The links below examine the principles, lessons and benefits of community engagement.