Community Engagement: An Ethical Practice

MEd Interdisciplinary topic for practicing professionals


Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma (4 course program) towards the MEd Interdisciplinary


Fully Online


One year (4 consecutive terms)


Graduate Program Administrator:
Shelley Enderton

Academic Co-coordinators:
Dr. Patricia Danyluk

Dr. Elisa Lacerda-Vandenborn

Program Overview

Premised on the idea that everyday citizens can contribute to the collective wellbeing of societies, the Community Engagement: An Ethical Practice topic offers a community-centred approach for those with an interest in teaching and learning, physical and mental health, child and family services, justice, and non-profit and community organization and private sectors. By introducing students to critical ideas within the scholarship of community engagement, participants will gain an understanding of principles of community-engaged ethics and examine the implications of their positioning within community-based work. This learning will be enhanced through partnering with community on the co-design of a response to a community-identified need.

Program Details

Courses in this program are offered fully online. Courses are held in both an asynchronous environment (D2L) and a synchronous (real-time) environment (Zoom) which allows instructors to virtually meet and talk with students and experience a live exchange of ideas, hear class presentations and do group work with access to a whiteboard. For additional information regarding online delivery, refer to the Online Delivery eLearn website.

Students in this program will:

  • Explore concepts, theories, research, and examples in the area of community engagement through reading, thinking, writing, and critical reflections based on course readings, in-class discussions, and other course activities;
  • Build understandings of the scope and purpose of community engagement;
  • Partner with community members in a broad range of organizations and learning movements targeted toward societal collaboration, reciprocity, and social justice;
  • Apply course readings, discussions, and assignments to their work with and in community;
  • Extend the understanding of adult education and learning beyond the classroom to community; and
  • Create a relational space for students to engage in learning and co-create paths with community for meaningful action.

This program is ideal for those currently employed or planning to work in:

  • Education (teachers, school counsellors, education aids, college instructors)
  • Social services (community workers, parole officers, welfare officers, child protection supervisors, case workers, policy analysts, police officers)
  • Non-profit organizations (refugee support workers, homelessness/shelter support workers)
  • Helping professions (social workers, substance misuse counsellors, psychologists, occupational therapists, youth counselors)
  • Law
  • Medical fields (nurses, nursing assistants, home health aides, registered nurses)

A registration package will be sent to new students after they have been admitted. Registration for the summer term will be available in late winter. Fall and Winter registration opens in the spring. Your Graduate Program Administrator will send more information about registration to you.

Fee details are available through the University Calendar. An explanation of fees is available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies' website.

The University of Calgary offers multiple ways to meet the cost of your education. Please refer to the Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries page to learn more about options available to students. For additional information, please contact Student Financial Support.

Program Schedule & Course Descriptions

  • Program begins each Summer term (refer to the Academic Schedule for specific dates)
  • Outlines are normally available 1-2 weeks prior to the start of term in D2L
  • 3 units per course

Term 1 - Summer

Social Movements and Community Engagement

Social movements can be thought of as collectivities acting with some degree of organization and continuity outside of institutional or organizational channels for the purpose challenging or defending extant authority, whether it is institutionally or culturally based in the group, organization, society, culture or world order of which they are a part of” (Blackwell Companion to Social Movements, p. 11). Students will have the opportunity to compare and contrast historical adult education social movements with that of modern ones. Students will choose a modern social movement to investigate examine how it compares to the characteristics of historical adult education social movements. Through the analysis of social movements students will gain an understanding of the learning and knowledge generating capacities of social movements and why they often begin with community.

This course provides participants with the opportunity to:

  • Examine the connections between adult education, social movements and community engagement
  • Consider the differences between social movements of the past and current social movements
  • Explore a modern social movement of their choice and examine how that movement is connected with community
  • Identify the learning and knowledge generating capacities of specific social movements

Registration info:
EDER 655.21 L04 (#50633)

Term 2 - Fall

Ethics of Community Engagement

Using real-life examples of community-led and based initiatives, this course will explore: conceptual strengths-based and critical positioning perspective frameworks; protocols and relationship building; ethical communal relationality; collaborative approaches to assessment and articulation of objectives; co-designing of tools and instruments; collaborative analysis of results; and community-led and based knowledge mobilization and impact analysis.

This course provides students with the opportunity to:

  • Consider relational and ethical dimensions of community partnership practice and research that enhance capacity, sustainability, and longevity of impact in communities
  • Learn about community-based and community-led frameworks and methodologies
  • Acquire tools for collaborative dialogue and reciprocal practice
  • Open paths for community-engaged practice and research in social change initiatives of their interests, be they in the local, national, and/or global.

Registration info:
EDER 655.20 L03 (#75390)

Term 3 - Winter

Community Engaged Practice

Students will use the knowledge and skills provided in the first half of the course to initiate a relationship with a community or organization that is actively involved in addressing a community/social issue of their interest. This course will serve as the reflective and relational basis for the students’ capstone project proposal. In it, students will:

  • Examine community-engaged scholarship as a pedagogy for change
  • Explore community issues to which they can contribute
  • Build relationships with community
  • Consider and start to position their role in addressing an issue of community concern
  • Create and advance a community of practice
  • Reflect on and contribute to their and peers’ project design
  • Design a community-engaged proposal in partnership with community for the capstone project

Registration info:
EDER 655.22 L04 (#15104)

Term 4 - Spring

Community Engaged Project

Students will respond to a community need through a community-engaged lens, to gain experiences beyond the classroom and will demonstrate their learning through an examination of the outcomes. The final project is presented in partnership with a community member.

In this course students will:

  • Articulate theoretical, practical, and ethical aspects of community engagement
  • Engage in and respond to a specific community need
  • Examine own role, responsibility, and impact from the community’s perspective
  • Consider lessons learned through community partnership and action and how they might inform community engaged practice and scholarship in their area of interest
  • Create greater ties to and in support of a given community

Registration info:
EDER 655.25  L02 (#2230)