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At University Outreach and Engagement, we employ various community engagement approaches to address complex social issues. The following are two approaches that we use, which assume a systems perspective.

Systemic Engagement

At University Outreach and Engagement, we use systems theory and methods to understand the dynamic behavior of complex social and organizational systems. We believe that most important social issues are complex in nature and cannot be understood without understanding the dynamics of the systems within which they are embedded.

At University Outreach and Engagement, we have developed a systemic approach to university-community partnerships, called Systemic Engagement (SE). SE uses systems thinking to conceptualize complex problems and organize responses to them, recognize the degree of uncertainty and unpredictability involved in addressing complex problems, and foster trans-disciplinary team-based approaches to community and systems change.

For more information, contact Miles McNall, Director, Community Evaluation and Research Collaborative.


Strategic Doing

Originally developed at Purdue University by Ed Morrison, regional economic development advisor in the Purdue Center for Regional Development, Strategic Doing is an approach designed for open, loosely connected networks that teaches people how to form collaborations quickly, move them toward measurable outcomes, and make adjustments along the way. According to Morrison, “Strategic Doing provides a new discipline for developing and implementing strategy within the loose networks that characterize our communities and regions. Where strategic planning is slow, linear and costly, Strategic Doing is fast, iterative, and inexpensive.”

Robert Brown, associate director of the Center for Community and Economic Development at MSU, provides training in Strategic Doing and facilitates Strategic Doing sessions, in which participants are led through a structured set of conversations that guide them toward realizing opportunities, deciding on outcomes, choosing initiatives or projects, and developing a complete action plan. Strategic Doing draws on the strengths and assets of the participants, each of whom has an equal voice and equal responsibility to take action.

For more information, contact Robert Brown, Associate Director, Center for Community and Economic Development.