Global and local engagement

Global & local engagement

Advocate for and contribute to solving problems affecting the local and wider/global community. Participate in community, neighborhood, and international activities.


Jump to section: Understanding Global and Local Engagement | Cultivating Global and Local Engagement | Quick Guide to Being a Conscientious Citizen  | Taking Action | ResourcesNeed Help? | References


Understanding Global & Local Engagement

An engagement is a committed and meaningful collaboration between individuals who share similar interests and aim to address issues affecting their local or global community. [1] 


Why does it matter?

Whether in your local community or at the global level, you have the chance to model the world you wish to, not live, but thrive in ‒ a sustainable world that meets the expectations of future generations.  

In Higher Education, curricular programs often aim to shape students into skilled, employable individuals. However, extra-curricular activities are what provide students with the stage to apply the skills and knowledge they are learning in the classroom to real world scenarios. [2] Engaging in your community, beyond your studies or job, turns you into a well-rounded citizen, instead of just a qualified employee.  

Participating in the quest for solutions to social, economic, or environmental issues facing you and your community broadens your horizons and allows you to explore your interests and values. Additionally, in their definition of mental health, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that your ability to contribute to your community is a measure of your wellbeing. [3]  

Protesting inequity, serving hungry people at a soup kitchen, raising environmental awareness; no matter what your cause is, advocating for what is meaningful to you can enhance your self-esteem and happiness. [4] By taking part in building a stronger community, you are creating a better support system and a healthier medium for yourself and your fellow citizens to work, learn, and grow together ‒ a feat that further strengthens local and global communities.   


Cultivating Global & Local Engagement  

Community engagement is a two-way street. Volunteering or advocating for a cause are examples of how students can serve their community, while learning and enriching their experiences. [5] 

To become more engaged in the McGill community, join a group or club, volunteer in tutoring and mentorship programs, or participate in on-campus activities including social events, fundraising campaigns, sustainability projects, and many others (see Taking Action and Resources sections for examples). Student campus and local community engagement is valued and acknowledged by the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), an official McGill document which “recognizes a student's involvement in learning opportunities outside the classroom.” The CCR can be a useful addition to your job application. [6] Visit the myInvolvement page to learn about available opportunities. 

The study of the historical relationship between a university body and its surrounding community sheds light on potential barriers between students and their local community ‒ as students might not need to leave the campus where most of their needs are being met (e.g., food, healthcare, entertainment). [7] While McGill offers student engagement opportunities, our campuses are only a small portion of a much larger community. Go beyond the gates and look for more opportunities in the diverse landscape that is Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and the world. [8]   

Consider ways to be proactive in your local community: volunteer at local organizations, draft a petition to the government and secure signatories, write a letter to newspaper editors, attend town hall meetings in your area, respond to surveys, or report problems or gaps to local authorities (e.g., safety issues, access to resources, environmental sustainability). Help accomplish the change that you envision, don’t be a bystander! Check-out the Quick Guide section for more suggestions. 

At the global level, consider volunteering or a doing an internship at a local or international organization whose mission speaks to your vision of global change. You could also volunteer abroad by participating in development projects in various areas such as education, health, or agriculture to support communities in different countries and to experience, firsthand, the impact you can have on people’s lives. Consult this list for international volunteering opportunities. 

When unsure where to start, learn about your rights as a citizen and as a human, and explore your values, interests, and the skills you wish to cultivate. These steps will help you discern the issues facing you and your community, and decide on where, when, and how to get involved. 

Quick Guide to Being a Conscientious Citizen

  1. Participate in student societies and vote in various student association elections 
  2. Engage in dialogue with leaders at your organization regarding work or study conditions 
  3. Get in touch with your beliefs (e.g., spiritual, social, political) and identify the causes that are important to you (e.g., literacy, gender equity) 
  4. Learn about your civic, social, and economic rights and duties as a local and global citizen (e.g., human rights
  5. Challenge yourself and expand your worldview by learning more about and seeking out connections with groups beyond your areas of interest and experience; learning often occurs outside of our comfort zone (e.g., attend an event about raising awareness of indigenous issues, even if this topic is not of high interest to you) 
  6. Take initiative to create or participate in a group project and mobilize your group's skills to fill a need in your community. 
  7. Get involved with local or international groups and organizations that are striving towards causes you care about 
  8. Participate in political life through voting and establishing a dialogue with policymakers at local, national, or international levels 


Taking Action




  • Equity at McGill: an overview of the initiatives and strategies being led by the Equity Team in the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic. See recommended resources here. 
  • The Branches team at McGill is committed to being a reliable partner in co-creating responsive and sustained relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis youth, families, schools and organizations. 

Groups & Associations 

Books, Articles & Reports

Need Help?

Campus Life & Engagement 

  • General Inquiries cle [at] 
  • New Student-related inquiries firstyear [at] 
  • (514)-398-6913 


As a McGill student, your participation in activities such as training workshops and volunteering are tracked on your Co-Curricular Record (CCR)! Having your co-curricular activities listed in one document can help you revise your CV or cover letter, prepare for interviews, and explore career options. Learn how to leverage this important document through myInvolvement, and make your training count!
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