Community Engagement & Outreach (CEO) Office

The Community Engagement & Outreach (CEO) Office aims to link the Great Plains IDeA CTR to all communities of the region, in particular the medically underserved areas. It is essential to engage the community around topics of health and research and bring the community’s voice to all activities of the Great Plains IDeA CTR program. The CEO core is intended to drive research that will have practical impact in our communities. We do this through the use of a community advisory board that helps to guide our priorities, pilots, and scholars to develop meaningful research that impacts people in the communities we serve. Our objective is to teach our CTR investigators how to better engage community members, understand and prioritize community concerns that might be addressed with clinical research projects, engage community members around research topics, and better disseminate research results.



To effectively support community-engaged research, it is important to provide the working definitions that underlie and provide scope to our work. There are several different ways to define concepts like “community” or “community engagement,” and how these concepts are defined can greatly affect the actions and relationships for those involved in research.

Below are the definitions that the Community Engagement and Outreach (CEO) Core use to describe community, community engagement, and community-engaged research. Using these definitions enables us to have a shared understanding which, we believe, will then lead to better relationships and more impactful research.


Community: Persons or entities affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations which can be further defined using the following perspectives:

  • systems (e.g., specialized functions, activities, or interests operating in specific boundaries to meet community needs)
  • social (e.g., individual, community organizations, and leaders)
  • virtual (e.g., communicating via online mechanisms), and
  • individual (e.g., how a person thinks about himself or herself and how others see and think about that person)


Community engagement (CE): the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger community for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.


Community-Engaged Research (CEnR): the process of working collaboratively with groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to the investigation and resolution of issues affecting their well-being. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices.