Office of Public Engagement

Mission Statement:

The Office of Public Engagement's mission is to embrace and foster a culture of trust and engagement that builds mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships. The Office of Public Engagement serves as a bridge between the university and local, state, national, and global communities. By uniting our collective knowledge; discovery; teaching and learning; faculty, staff, and student engagement; and public goods, civically engaged citizens are enriched and empowered to cultivate vibrant, safe, just, healthy, and resilient communities that create lasting societal impact.

Public Engagement Definition:

Drawing from the definition used by the Carnegie Classification, as well as other, definitions we define public engagement as:

i. Public engagement involves faculty drawing on their expertise to address or respond to societal problems, concerns, issues, or interests to contribute to the public good.

ii. Public engagement often occurs in collaboration with public or private communities at the local, state, national, or international level.

iii. For the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

iv. To the extent that they encapsulate the key concepts outlined here, a variety of other terms, such as “civic scholarship”, “community partnerships”, “innovation and entrepreneurship engagement”, “outreach”, “public-facing scholarship”, “public service”, “social innovation”, and “technology transfer”, may be considered public engagement in the context of research, teaching, or service.

About the Office of Public Engagement:

In October of 2021, the Office of Public Engagement was established as a formal entity in the Office of the Chancellor. The establishment of this entity reflects the recognition of the need for a robust campuswide public engagement presence – locally and beyond. Also, this entity is well aligned with Goal 3 of the Next 150 strategic plan: MAKE A SIGNIFICANT AND VISIBLE SOCIETAL IMPACT.

Recent Public Engagement Activities

Program Highlights:

Campus-Community Compact To Accelerate Social Justice

The Compact addresses racism and social justice in six grand challenge areas: accessible technology; community relations; economic development; health, wellness, and resilience; inclusive education; and workforce development. There are also cross-cutting areas, including accessible campus/ transportation, accessible information, community safety, and language (e.g., multilingualism, communications, and messaging). The work of the Compact aligns well with both UIUC’s vision of being a pre-eminent publicly engaged, research intensive, land-grant university with global impact and goal three of the 2018-2023 Strategic Plan: The Next 150 — Make a Significant and Visible Societal Impact.

We invite you to view our Compact informational booklet to learn more about our work.

community-conversation image

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MSI Alliance

The goal of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MSI Alliance is to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing and obtaining doctoral degrees leading to successful careers in academia and beyond. We aim to build multi-directional partnerships between Illinois and participating MSIs and are committed to listening carefully to what current and potential MSI partners believe is needed to build a mutually beneficial and sustainable partnership to achieve this goal.

Inclusive Innovation in the Sciences:
A Blueprint for Investment + Impact

The work of PI 2 will be guided by one bold vision and four strategies that can be adapted by PI 2 members to inform place-based planning in areas of institutional priorities in the sciences. These four strategies reflect the fundamentals – building strong partnerships, improving education, and providing jobs and business opportunities. The framework integrates these fundamentals to better contribute to more inclusive economic growth on the South Side.

1. Civic Infrastructure. Build multi-sector collaborations that enable full participation in scientific discovery and investment on the South Side.

2. STEM Education. Increase education initiatives that strengthen the STEM ecosystem and connect to career pathways.

3. Employment. Create internships, fellowships, and apprenticeships to support career pathways in science, technology, engineering and community economic development.

4. Economic Development. Leverage new developments in science and engineering to achieve inclusive economic investment opportunities, Minority Business Enterprise/ Women Business Enterprise (MBE/WBE) business growth, and community wealth creation.

Science Graphic


STEM Illinois is an intergenerational community-university partnered initiative that fosters STEM learning for all. Housed within the Office of Public Engagement, this program aims to provide unprecedented access to the vast knowledge and resources available at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to local communities.

STEM Saturday is a free monthly event where youth K-12th grade enjoy hands- on STEM activities led by instructors. Participants learn important science topics and build their own science models. Spring 2023 details coming soon.

STEM Illinois Nobel Project provides young people with unprecedented access to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign fulfilling the land-grant mission.

Institutionalizing Public Engagement

Public engagement is critical to solving some of the world’s most pressing societal challenges (e.g., poverty, hunger, energy security, urban decay, architectural segregation, public health, educational and economic disparity) and has been a hallmark of land-grant institutions like the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racial injustice require us to focus intently on enacting more effective public engagement efforts as we find ways to contribute solutions to today's most pressing and challenging societal issues. As we consider resumption of in-person, face-to-face engagement work with communities post-COVID, it is time to identify strategies within our academic units for ensuring high quality, equitable partnerships and collaborations in light of the significant developments that have occurred over the two past years.