Community Development is the work of creating better outcomes for low income and underserved populations and communities. This is done in a variety of ways: affordable housing, community based services and programs, social entrepreneurship, workforce and business development, individual/community wealth and capacity building.
Contemporary community development theory takes a resident-participatory and bottom-up, rather than a bureaucratically administered and top-down, approach to development. ABCD—Asset Based Community Development—strategies identify and maximize the human and physical resources/assets within the community in order to impact complex problems sitting at the intersections of poverty, race, gender and other identities.
Critical theory situates this community development practice within a broader critique of the political, economic, and cultural systems that legitimate and disrupt the systems and structures of poverty, inequality, and marginalization that community development practices aim to ameliorate and/or remedy.
This course provides a unique opportunity for students to integrate social theory and community development practice into a praxis of community development that reflects on the power dynamics being legitimated and disrupted by community development practices.
Students will have an opportunity to grapple with the integration of critical theory and practice by exploring best practices in some area of community development and by participating in a live D.C. community development initiative being spearheaded by the professor.
Students are required to write two short papers 9-10 pages each, exploring community development best practices in a subfield of community development, one paper focused on a professor-assigned topic related to the D.C. initiative referenced above and the other on a topic of the student’s choosing.