Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics, level one of the Foundations of Practice in Community Development program, provides an introduction to the seven core competencies that focuses on the ability to understand community of place, the nature of public issues, the dynamics and interdependencies of the various segments of the community, and the basics of community development work. Open to all individuals working in a community context this course is offered as an entry level course in community development. No prior knowledge or experience is required.
Dates and Topics
[Note: The class topics are firm but the exact order of the topics may change]
Week 1. - Introduction to Community (Steve Jeanetta, University of Missouri Extension)
Want to know more about the principles of doing good community development work? Here is the starting line. Covering the dynamics of community life, this introduction helps you discover some of the key characteristics of a community that can facilitate (or impede) the development of effective community-improvement programs.
Week 2 - Community Demographics (Don Albrecht, Western Rural Development Center)
Doing quality community development work is pretty difficult if you lack a sound understanding of the current and emerging features of your community and its population. What are the population, economic, and social conditions and trends in your community? This session will provide you with valuable guidelines on ways to create useful data-based profiles of your community.
Week 3 - Community Situational Analysis (Lori Garkovich, University of Kentucky)
Every community has challenges that impede its ability to become stronger and more vibrant. But, taking the time to truly understand the mix of issues impacting the well-being of a community is crucial. Learn how to engage community members and groups in a systematic, step-by-step process for uncovering high priority issues and taking action.
Week 4 - Community Economics (Stephan Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development)
Money comes and goes, but knowing who is bringing it in, how it is being invested, and how it is leaving the community is important to supporting a vibrant economy. Learn about the many facets of a community's economic complexion in this session.
Week 5 - Community Power Dynamics (Dan Kahl, Kansas State University Extension)
Knowing the visible and "behind the scenes" leaders in a community is crucial to any effort by a group to promote and advance key community development activities. Find out about the important layers of leadership in your community and a straightforward manner for identifying the various leadership roles that individuals play.
Week 6 - Mapping Community Assets (Stacey McCullough, University of Arkansas Extension)
Sound community development work depends on helping citizens understand that every community has something that can be described as an asset. Too often communities spend so much time focused on the resources that they lack that they fail to appreciate the opportunities and advantages they do have. This session will introduce participants to asset mapping and introduce how this tool can help in a community development context.
Week 7 - Community Development Process (Deborah Tootle, Iowa State University Extension)
Several approaches can facilitate the ability of communities to get things done. Learn about some valuable tools and procedures – both past and present – that can offer a valuable roadmap on how to pursue good community development work.
About this course
This course makes use of the latest in distance learning technology. The class consists of seven, 90-minute presentations and discussion on fundamental community development topics. These webinar presentations are offered in real time on Thursday's (see above for dates). Each of these presentations will be recorded and the recordings will be available on the course website along with supplemental resources.
The course website is housed in Moodle - Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment - and will host a threaded discussion that provides participants the opportunity to share experiences, get to know each other, ask questions, and engage in deeper conversation.
In order to maximize your learning experience, you should have access to a computer with an Internet connection (preferably a high-speed connection that does not rely on a wireless connection). All audio will be provided via a teleconference bridge so access to a telephone is also recommended.
The week prior to the start of the course, you will receive an e-mail with detailed instructions on how to access both the WebEx classroom and the Moodle website.
If you are planning to take the class as part of a group, you can share a connection for the weekly presentations, but you will need a way to project your computer screen and speakers to enhance the sound.
If you have any questions about this course or would like to discuss connection options, contact either of the course facilitators below:
The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development and the North Central program leaders implemented Understanding Communities and Their Dynamics using distance education technology in Fall 2005. Beginning with the Fall 2009 training, the program became a national effort, offered jointly by all four Regional Rural Development Centers as a professional development opportunity for Extension professionals who work in a community context. Since 2011 the course has been offered through the following eXtension Communities of Practice - Entrepreneurs and Their Communities and Enhancing Rural Capacity.