Spring 2021

CRP 381M (01555) CRP 386 (01630) 


Community engagement is an art that involves the whole person in a generative relationship with others.  The subjective, intuitive, embodied awareness of the practitioner is critical for effective community engagement practice. So, too, is the practitioner’s awareness of the group or community, not as an object to study, plan, or fix, but as a living evolving relational field.      
This course is a skill-building seminar in the holistic art of community engagement. It involves planning, design thinking, process skills, and dialogue skills.  It involves personal and interpersonal skills:  how to be comfortable in uncertainty and build relationships across difference.  It also involves integral perception—seeing the emergent whole beyond the sum of the parts.  The course is open to students from diverse fields of interest.
Content and Pedagogy

The readings for this course focus on practice stories:  how professionals (designers, planners, and others) have learned the art of community engagement, especially in the context of social and environmental justice issues.  Many of the narratives of community-based change come from cities and regions of the Global South. Course readings draw from P. Wilson, Heart of Community Engagement; B.B. Wilson,  Community-Driven Design; A. Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse; and  M. Sharma, Radical Transformational Leadership.


Most classes include a facilitated conversation about a key case reading.   Following that, the students learn and practice a new tool for engagement, ranging from art and theater to dialogue and collective reflection.


For the term project, students engage in our live community-based action project (details to be announced).  Alternatively, you may opt to design a community engagement strategy or conduct a participatory event for a project of your own.  Another option for the term project is a research paper or case study of community engagement in your particular field of interest.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn to design and facilitate participatory processes
  • Learn and practice user-based design.
  • Understand the dynamics of a complex community context, and how to add value to it.  

Student Evaluation
25% In-class participation in discussions and exercises
25% Designing, facilitating, and evaluating an in-class exercise (with partner)
50% Term project (see above)