Global definition of Community Development

05th August 2016

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On 26th July 2016 the International Association of Community Development (IACD) released a statement on their Facebook page calling for the widespread adoption of a global definition for community development:

“Community development is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes participative democracy, sustainable development, rights, economic opportunity, equality and social justice, through the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity or interest, in urban and rural settings"

This sits very well with the current UK Community Development Values & National Occupational Standards (CD-NOS) which were agreed and published in March 2015. As stated in the introduction to the CD-NOS guidance, adhering to these standards will support:

  • Community development workers and community activists
  • Individuals and organisations adopting a community development approach in their work
  • Employers of community development practitioners
  • Community development education and training providers
  • Funders of programmes and projects
  • Development and delivery of strategic plans
  • Evaluation of community development practice

I believe that together as practitioners and organisations (all who are working with communities in the UK) - by adhering to values and standards such as these - we can ensure our collective impact on poverty, racism and social exclusion is realised in a way that empowers, enables and encourages lasting participation. I think you'll agree that this transformative approach is the only sustainable way.

We at The Four Corners of the Land are happy to adopt the IACD proposed global definition for community development, what about you?

And, how are you or your organisation using the CD-NOS to improve your own community development / engagement practice here in the UK?

Feel free to share in the comments thread below, or why not consider using The Four Corners Connected to catalogue your efforts in realtime from now into the future?

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Previous comments

E.L. Beck

Posted 07th August 2016

The problem with this definition is that it assumes there are “experts” (professionals and academicians) who can “educate” members of a community. Thus, the definition immediately becomes hierarchical, encourages a top-down approach, and presumes the necessity of instructing community members on how to manage the very community in which the members have been embedded some, much, or all of their lives.

There is nothing here to suggest to professional or academicians that they should approach communities with more than just a sheen of humility, to encourage them to live within the community - even if just a short time, to interact with community members to get to know their lives and the life of the community, and to listen more than speak.

The community should be educating the “experts,” not the converse.