This story is sponsored by Humber College.
When you think of community development, concepts like human rights, social justice and inclusion often come to mind – it’s about working for people, not for profit. Those working in the field are employed by local councils, government departments, non-profit organizations and the health and education sectors.
In addition to building the capacity for change, careers in community development offer job security, excellent pay, and benefits. It is a fulfilling path for people who are passionate about leading projects and advocating for those who face obstacles that prevent them from leading productive lives.
“Community development is important because we all want to live in a safe and healthy environment,” says Linda Hill, program coordinator and professor in the Bachelor of Community Development. study programme at Humber College. “The primary goal is social justice for all, and it’s a way of being in the world that builds a community’s social capital and capacity for greatness. It’s about understanding the root causes of problems and trying to find real solutions with those most affected.
For example, community workers might find themselves faced with the problem of hunger in low-income neighborhoods. Instead of building food banks as a quick fix, they prefer to understand the root causes of hunger and address those specific factors.
Humber’s Bachelor of Community Development program, within the Faculty of Community and Social Services, offers a unique blend of theory and practical experience. Throughout their four-year course, students learn to work in communities and support different groups of people as they address challenges that impact their quality of life.
Hill started her career as a social worker, but after realizing that many of the problems people faced were the result of poorly constructed systems, she changed direction.
In 1995, she started an agency in the Etobicoke area of Toronto, for seniors with physical and mental health issues who were eligible for nursing home care but wanted to live independently in their own homes.
“It was a new concept of long-term care storage that valued people’s resilience and their right to make decisions that impact their lives,” she shares. “He confronted ageist views and formed ways of support and interdependence to care for each other. My supportive housing agency allowed frail seniors to age in place and created a strong sense of belonging.
Determined to change the long-term care system in Ontario, Hill completed her graduate degree in community development at the University of Toronto. After completing the intensive program, she began consulting with community groups seeking funding to develop innovative social programs. She also began teaching at the college level, which eventually led to a full-time position at Humber, working with students eager to change the world in small and big ways.
“I enjoy teaching skills-based classes like interpersonal communication, group dynamics, and leadership; mainly because I see students grow and change through these classes,” she says. “They become better communicators, group facilitators and leaders. It’s gratifying to see the transformation taking place. Community foundation courses are also dear to my heart because I can talk about my passion and embrace the values and theories of the practice.
The Bachelor of Community Development program also includes 420 hours of field experience. This provides students with the opportunity to hone their skills while making connections with others in the industry. Students have the option of collaborating on an applied community development project with their peers or working directly with established community partners.
“It’s amazing to see students take all the knowledge and skills they’ve learned throughout the degree and apply them to a real-life project that impacts organizations and the industry. I am always impressed by the caliber of the projects and I am really happy to know that my students will soon be my colleagues as community workers,” she shares.
By the end of the program, graduates will have a solid understanding of how the world is organized and will feel comfortable speaking out against social inequalities. They will also have knowledge of counseling, sociology, psychology, organizational structures, social movements, and advanced community development issues.
“Community workers use their skills to help facilitate groups and move programs forward while understanding that they are not the experts. Community members are the experts and their lived experience is what guides the work,” says Hill. “It’s about people coming together to solve real problems with the common goal of positively changing the world.”
Read more about Humber College in NOW Magazine here.