Spring 2022

CRP 381M.2 (01305) CRP 386 (01354) 


This course is a skill-building seminar in the holistic art of community engagement. It is open to students from diverse fields of interest—no prerequisites. The course introduces process skills, dialogue skills, and design thinking. It fosters personal and interpersonal skills for effective community engagement: how to be comfortable in uncertainty and build relationships across difference. It also develops integral perception—seeing the emergent whole beyond the sum of the parts. Instructive cases are examined in diverse contexts, especially the global south.


Students are introduced to Action Research, a methodology of collaborative inquiry that integrates these skills. Action Research is a participatory approach to community engagement that empowers the participants to become the protagonists of change. The planner, designer, or change agent fosters a mutual learning process WITH the community as partners in collaborative action, rather than as a public or client that needs to be informed and convinced. Mastery of this powerful approach allows you, the practitioner, to discern when and how to offer your expertise so as to foster community
initiative, trust, and collaboration.


The practitioner’s awareness of self and the social field is fundamental to effective community engagement. 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. Students in this course learn the art of community engagement through practice stories, dialogue and reflection, skill building, and a final project.


Learning Objectives

  • Gain a basic ability to design and facilitate participatory processes
  • Understand how to apply the fundamentals of user-based design.
  • Know what action research is, when to use it, and how to frame an action research project.
  • Learn how to add value to a complex and dynamic community context
  • Above all, to become a reflective practitioner, aware of self and system in action