Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Community Development Work Offers Real World Experiences Via Field Placements

Imagine being part of a team whose sole purpose it is to enhance the social and economic well being of people living in a diverse range of communities. As a form of social planning, this is called community development and professionals within the field work for government, voluntary organizations, corporations and international community settings. According to Prospects, the UK’s official graduate careers site, some of the common tasks of these professionals include:
  • identifying community skills, assets, issues and needs;
  • ensuring that local people have their say;
  • developing new resources in dialogue with the community and evaluating existing programs;
  • building links with other groups and agencies;
  • helping to raise public awareness on issues relevant to the community;
  • preparing reports and policies;
  • raising funds;
  • developing and agreeing to strategies;
  • liaising with interested groups and individuals to set up new services;
  • mediating in matters of conflict;
  • recruiting and training paid as well as voluntary staff;
  • planning, attending and coordinating meetings and events;
  • overseeing the management of a limited budget;
  • encouraging participation in activities;
  • challenging inappropriate behaviour;
  • general administrative duties
To take on all of these tasks, interested parties must attend of Canada's post-secondary community development programs. Centennial College’s Community Development Work is one such offering. This two-year program functions off the premise that there is no one road map to community development practice and that the community itself is "organic by nature".

As such, students attend courses that teach them politics, economics, research and an understanding of cultural diversity - all of which are incorporated in successful community development. Among specific courses are Sustainable Community Development, Communication Foundations, Foundations of Community Based Research, Community Engagement and Participation, Business Essentials, Community Development Policy and more.

To supplement the courses in the program, students attend two field placements. The first focuses on community development in the Greater Toronto Area. The second, meanwhile, allows students to work in an organization focused on international and domestic community development. Not only are the field placements opportunities for students to test out and apply the knowledge they have gained in the program, they are also a way for students to expand their professional networks. These networks are essential to students' work as advocates.

The well rounded training offered in this community develop program allows graduates, with their Ontario College Diploma, to launch careers in public, private and non-profit sector careers in a wide array of positions geared at building community capacity, promoting sustainable community and managing/directing community economic development initiatives.

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