Community Development Concepts and Applications in Health and Social Services

Applied Community Studies
Therapeutic Recreation
Course Code
THRT 3601
Semester Length
Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
In this course we apply an ecological perspective to explore the nature and process of community systems and approaches to planning. Experientially we explore meanings of community, capacity building, social capital, inclusion and belonging, citizen power, and social change. Through active involvement in class discussions and engagement with community organizations, we examine various approaches to community development in health and social services settings by applying leisure, recreation and therapeutic recreation concepts and practices.
Course Content

Definitions and theories of community


Ecological Frameworks and System Theory

  • Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
  • Systems and subsystems, boundaries, energy, entropy
  • Foundations of community development
  • Examples of application


Fundamental Planning Approaches in Health and Social Services Settings

  • Community development as a method, practice, process, movement
  • Social marketing
  • Social reform planning
  • Policy analysis
  • Social learning
  • Social mobilization
  • Advocacy, empowerment and social change
  • Theoretical underpinnings, applications and examples of each approach


Assets Based Community Development (ABCD)

  • Needs maps versus assets maps (John McKnight)
  • Initiating ABCD – moving from discovering “care” to taking action


The role of the community developer

  • Facilitation skills
  • Managing conflict
  • Consciousness raising and conscientization (Paulo Freire)
  • Insider and outsider roles
  • Dealing with power issues


Understanding worldviews

  • Reflexivity
  • Whiteness and intersectionality
  • Stigma, prejudice and discrimination
  • Advantage and disadvantage


Key concepts linked to community development

  • Citizenship
  • Inclusion and belonging
  • Capacity building
  • Citizen power
  • Social capital


Community Development and Leisure, Recreation and Therapeutic Recreation

  • Community development through leisure education
  • Links between leisure education, serious leisure, civic participation and participatory citizenship
  • Applying community development concepts and approaches to various client groups and contexts
Learning Activities
  • Lecture/discussion
  • Involvement in community development group processes simulated in the classroom
  • Community service learning
  • Student debates
  • Case studies
  • Student presentations
Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Tests
  • Written assignments
  • Presentations
  • Service-learning project

This is a letter graded course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. identify a worldview and how it influences beliefs, understandings, assumptions, and decision-making;
  2. understand and apply the central concepts of system theory and ecological frameworks to community organizing;
  3. compare and contrast definitions of community and approaches to community building;
  4. understand the fundamental approaches to planning and be capable of identifying them in practice;
  5. compare and contrast models of community development;
  6. describe the links between community development and health promotion, recreation and therapeutic recreation; and
  7. engage actively and appropriately with community organizations to better understand the realities of community development in various contexts.
Textbook Materials





Courses listed here must be completed either prior to or simultaneously with this course:

  • No corequisite courses


Courses listed here are equivalent to this course and cannot be taken for further credit:

  • No equivalency courses

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for THRT 3601
Simon Fraser University (SFU) No credit
University of Northern BC (UNBC) No credit
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV GE 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC EPHE 2XX (1.5)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023