National Study for Community Development Higher Education

Community development philosophies, epistemologies, and contexts vary widely among post-secondary education programs. Curricula and pedagogical practices have not been compared, contrasted, or debated in any systematic way, and there remains no agreed upon or clearly articulated foundation for community development education. The splintering of the field is compounded by its multidisciplinary nature – because community development is a process, it transcends diverse community contexts, an aspect often not realized when trained in a traditional discipline.

To better understand the current state of community development higher education, the UC Davis Center for Regional Change (CRC) intends to document both undergraduate and graduate community development education programs in the United States. After completing an initial inventory of existing programs, the CRC will complete three phases of research as follows:

  1. Programmatic Survey
  2. Faculty Survey
  3. Program Site Visits

Through this exploratory study, the CRC aims to identify foundational knowledge and skills to advance the impact of community development higher education programs, and subsequently strengthen national communication and knowledge about curriculum development, instructional delivery, and student inclusion in program design.

 Photo Credit: UC Davis Center For Regional Change

Photo Credit: UC Davis Center For Regional Change

Programmatic Survey

The first phase of this research is the distribution of a questionnaire to gather basic information about program structure and demographics. This baseline data will be analyzed and compiled to supplement the existing inventory. The survey will also request names of up to five community development faculty that teach in the program. This will be used to create a faculty sample for the second phase of research.




Faculty Survey

The second phase of research involves the distribution of an online survey to the community development faculty identified in phase one. The faculty survey is designed to gather information regarding program epistemologies, philosophies, structure, and educational practices. Surveys will be analyzed and basic descriptives will be reported.

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Program Site Visits

Once the first two stages of the overall study are complete, an intensive qualitative inquiry will be conducted to supplement the survey data. Members of the research team will immerse themselves in five selected institutions chosen for maximum programmatic variation. The team will spend two to three days at each institution observing classroom instruction, interviewing faculty and students, and collecting instructional artifacts. The goal of this inquiry is to gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the educational practices used in community development higher education. Content analysis, thematic coding, and case studies will be undertaken in the analysis of this phase.