Industry Overview

Increasingly, many organizations and practitioners in the public and nonprofit sectors are being challenged to relate to their communities in ways that go beyond being recipients of information and services. Since the 1960s, concepts of citizen participation and the active society have developed. In the last several decades, “community engagement” has gained currency in literature and in community practice.

Community practitioners who were consulted in the development of this certificate strongly linked community engagement with community leadership and community development. All three are seen as a means to an end: the improvement or advancement of the social-economic-cultural well-being of some self-defined community. Community engagement, however, is generally seen as a process that contributes to building community leadership and facilitating community development.

Community Engagement, Leadership, and Development

Practitioners generally see community engagement as critical to community development, since commitment to and ownership of an issue, activity, or initiative by community members is considered instrumental to the success of community development efforts.

Community practitioners recognize that their organizations are heavily involved in connecting with and mobilizing citizen and community support for positive change. This work is being done to some degree based on consciously held theories of practice. However, this is not systematically the case, and many practitioners in this area are left to their own instincts and learning on the job, without the benefit of formal training or education in the theory and practice of community engagement.

This certificate program has been designed to respond to strong interest and enthusiasm expressed in the field for the development of a post-secondary continuing education program focusing on community engagement, leadership, and development.