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Acquire the skills you and your organization would need to empower individuals and groups of people with the skills they need to effect change within their communities

Community Development: Service

Community Development

Module 1: Introduction to Community Development

Module 2: Understanding a Local Context and Its Priorities

Module 3: How to Engage with Communities

Module 4: The Ethics of Stakeholder Management

Module 5: Best Practices in Community Development

Dedicated to gender equality? Keen to improve health across all age groups? Want to reduce plastic pollution or the poaching of endangered species? Want to help create greater food or water security?

All these causes, and many more, require the engagement of local communities. Our Community Development course, which is offered in partnership with the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, provides the theoretical background that will allow you to carry out this type of work effectively and ethically.

You will explore what community development is, how local context impacts program development, best practice when engaging with and implementing community programs, and ethical considerations in community interventions.

The online course material is based on GVI’s more than two decades of practical experience conducting community development initiatives in locations around the world in close collaboration with local communities. In fact, because we want all our community development interns to know how to conduct community development work, this online course is included in the program fee of all our community development internship abroad programs.


After completing this course you’ll be able to:

  • understand the reasoning behind different definitions of community development

  • identify the common pitfalls of most community development initiatives

  • recognise methodologies used to plan and implement community development programs

  • choose what best practices to follow when implementing community development initiatives

  • reflect on your own perceptions of community development.


This course is for anyone who’s interested in improving their ability to make a meaningful contribution to community-based initiatives. It’s ideal for high school, college or graduate students who are considering careers that require an understanding of running community initiatives. Working professionals who need to improve their knowledge of and skills related to community development will also benefit from this online course. Those seniors who’ve retired and are looking for a way to make an impact in communities are also welcome to join.


In this course, you’ll explore different definitions of the term “community development” and learn how each displays an underlying ideology. Study the history of the term “community development” and efforts designed to empower communities. In the process, uncover your own preconceptions and discover the common pitfalls of these types of initiatives.

Learn about best practices in community development including the importance of keeping local context front-of-mind during any community development project. Learn how local factors, such as financial security, gender norms, religion, infrastructure, history, and national policies affect a community’s objectives. Find out why it’s important to always keep your own context in mind.

Getting the buy-in of a community is important if the initiative is to succeed. This course will teach you about how to engage communities at different levels using a variety of techniques. Learn how to use the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach to identify the strengths of a community and create an inventory of the community’s capacities.

Find out how to set the outcomes of a community-based initiative and understand the difference between negative and positive impact.

Finally, the course will teach you how to balance the requirements of financial donors to the community development program with the objectives and welfare of the community itself. You’ll learn how to conduct a stakeholder map and find out how to manage expectations and conflict.

Community Development: Text
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