Spectrum of Participation in Community Engagement

Community engagement can take many different forms and is often depicted as a continuum. This ranges from low-level engagement strategies, such as consultation, to high-level strategies such as community empowerment.

The IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum, developed in the late 1990s, with updates by IAP2 Australasia in 2014, is one of the most utilized and applied of international public participation models to describe the level of citizens’ involvement in decision-making processes. It explains the different levels of engagement that organizations can engage their communities, with the furthest right of the spectrum highlighting the greater community influence on decision making. It is important to note that each level of participation in community engagement serves a purpose. It is not always ‘better’ or appropriate to have more participation in community engagement, as this is dependent on the overall goals and resources a project may have available.


Supplementary Reading

This website provides a review of 60 international public participation models.

Here is a link to Andrew Furco’s article “Service-Learning: A Balanced Approach to Experiential Education,” in Expanding Boundaries: Serving and Learning (Washington DC: Corporation for National Service, 1996).

Read Principles of Community Engagement by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium
Community Engagement Key Function Committee Task Force on the Principles of Community Engagement.



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Building Sustainable Communities: The Impact of Engagement Copyright © 2022 by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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