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Community Development Concepts and Applications in Health and Social Services

Course Code: THRT 3601
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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

Methods of Instruction

  • 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.

course prerequisites

THRT 1201, THRT 2455


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

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.