Delving into the subject of community engagement, I stumbled upon an instructive approach proposed in 2011 by the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the context of community-based health policy, NIH suggested that community engagement may be defined in two ways: first, relating to the target community in need of health care services, and second, referring to the wider community in which health care facilities must operate and coordinate to be effective.
In both of these definitions of community engagement there are close parallels to the work of our science centers and museums. Our missions are frequently defined by the target communities that we strive to impact—youth, lifelong learners, students, educators, underserved communities, the highly motivated, and more. At the same time, we know that our successes depend upon our ability to reflect the wider communities in which we exist and to collaborate effectively with people who share geographic proximity but are often diverse in culture, economics, skills, and interests.