Indiana University's Community Engagement Framework for a Public Health Priority

Responding to the addictions crisis


  • Robin Newhouse Indiana University
  • Faith Kirham Hawkins



Engagement; Health; Addictions; Community; Partnerships


In 2017, significant increases in opioid overdoses and the crippling effect of substance use on the health of Hoosiers heighted a sense of urgency to address this major health crisis. Indiana University (IU) initiated a Grand Challenge: Responding to the Addictions Crisis (AGC) through a $50 million investment in intramural research and projects to address addictions in Indiana in synergy with state and health system partners. The announcement resulted in immediate response from the community via email and calls with request for engagement from the people of Indiana, groups, organizations and policy makers.  To organize quickly, initial contacts were  categorized into an AGC Community Engagement Framework with five potential levels of engagement - curiosity, interest, advocacy, project partners, initiative partners. To guide our team’s responsiveness, each level is mapped to specific AGC goals, mechanisms of engagement, and engagement owners. The engagement framework developed has high utility for Universities and other public institutions who seek to engage the broad community in public health responses.