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Program Goals and Objectives

Be Clear About Your Program Goals and Objectives.  

There are many different types of outreach and engagement programs with varying goals and objectives.

Begin by asking some basic questions related to the goals of your program.

Ask yourself: What is the purpose of your outreach and engagement activities? What are your program objectives? What outcomes would you like to see?
If you still need help with understanding the goals of your program, look here for some helpful questions and insight.

Some programs are designed to provide information and share expertise, such as Saturday University programs featuring lectures by UW faculty. In contrast, other programs represent a genuine reciprocal partnership with a community where the partner(s) is involved in the co-development of the program/activity from the start. For a useful chart representation of this as a continuum, see the Colorado State University Continuum of Engagement that illustrates the progression from outreach to engagement. This continuum emphasizes different program objectives from informing, consulting, involving, collaborating, and co-creation of programs with the public and partners. The International Association for Public Participation also provides useful resources for outreach and engagement program design.

You will design very different programs based on one interaction with a K-12 audience or a community audience versus a long-term research or service project involving local educational, non-profit, government, and/or business partners.

Select the activity/format that fits your objectives.

Selecting the format for the public engagement activity depends on a variety of considerations, including the objectives, intended audience(s), scale, and outputs. Different types of public engagement activities will produce different outcomes and impacts. For example, there may be discrete training that UW personnel provide for health care workers. This example is well-defined and has a clear audience. Other activities, such as public forums, are more wide-ranging by design and meant to be accessible by all or most people. The object may be to share information on a particular topic.

Many outreach and engagement activities are time-consuming and resource-intensive. Consider how much time you need to allow in advance to design and implement your program. Give resource issues, including funding, materials, and personnel, sufficient consideration in the early stages. Look at the value of in-person versus digital formats for your programming – and what different implications arise from this decision. This is one area where OEO can be very helpful. Depending on the type of activity you are planning, we can provide advice on associated time and estimated costs involved. Review the OEO Event Planning Checklist (coming soon) and consider discussing these questions in consultation with OEO.


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