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HOD 7210: Community Development Theory

Janine Christiano working with
Sara Safransky, Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Development


The participants in this study were masters students in the Community Development and
Action program enrolled in Community Development Theory course. It combines theory, research, and practice to equip students to become change agents in organizations and communities that support positive human development.

The focus of the course is on theories that explain local, community and municipal-level processes. Special attention is given to issues surrounding race, economics, and inclusion. Students develop an understanding of the theoretical strands in current development issues and policies.


Community Development and Action students come to the program with diverse professional
and personal backgrounds. The goal of this core course is to provide both a deep and broad
foundational understanding of the complexities of community development historically and
currently in order to help develop effective change agents in the community. Special attention
is given to issues surrounding race, economics, and inclusion. The course spans hundreds of
years and covers complex and controversial topics. The creation of an online timeline paired
with the inclusion of remote presenters who are current community development practitioners
is meant to support the comprehension and retention of the material which will hopefully be
applied to the students’ future work in the community.


Students were asked to create online timelines throughout the first half of the semester and
remote speakers were invited to speak about current issues, specifically housing inequity and
community-based solutions.

Online timeline creation





















Interaction with remotely located community development practitioners


























Students were surveyed about their experience at the end of the semester and a focus group
session was held.


Students felt the timeline and remote speakers helped in their learning and comprehension.


“I think a lot of the learning that we do in our entire education is writing papers and presentations which can be useful but creating something that’s totally yours and is open ended is challenging but it was also like really did help connect the dots in a new way.”



I thought it was really cool to see just them talking about like their still very passionate about the work they’re doing, and they’ve been doing it for a really long time and just trying new things and I think it was kind of, in a unique way, inspirational as someone starting off on this journey”