This dissertation is concerned with a move toward community engagement within academia generally, and more specifically the concepts of legitimacy and belonging in engagement practices. My work contributes to a relatively recent shift toward community engagement classifications and designations for institutions of higher education (Saltmarsh and Driscoll 2015). These designations are important for understanding the growing significance of engagement within academia, as an opportunity for expanding interpretations of how knowledge is understood and produced. I find in this dissertation that the growing field of community engagement is an opportunity to challenge ideas of dominance and power in knowledge systems, as well as offer a space for growing collaborations and building relationships beyond traditional academic research practices. My work contributes to the idea that participatory and collaborative work is a place where practitioners of these methods grapple with questions of legitimacy and a sense of belonging, both in the work and with one another.