Community development, as with all professions, needs to ensure that the ways in which we look at the world and the ways in which IACD members seek to support communities is as up to date as possible. IACD’s Training, Publications and Professional Development Committee, chaired by John Stansfield, includes practitioners and community development trainers  with years of experience in this field. Community development practitioners, agency managers, trainers, funders and policy advisers want continuing professional development support. IACD is expanding this area of its support for members.

In 2016 we published a new global definition of community development to ensure some clarity across the world that we are all talking about the same thing. But further that the profession itself stated clearly that we see community development as  “a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes human rights, equality and social justice, participative democracy and sustainable development, through the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, whether these be of locality, identity or interest, in urban or rural settings. 

Practitioners of community development need to ensure that they are skilled at viewing the community where they are working holistically, recognising the interdependence, interconnections and relationships between various resources in a community, be they human, social, political, cultural, financial, natural or built.

To be skilled at the organisation, education and empowerment of people within their communities, requires underpinning and up to date knowledge about theories of community development, education and organisation, political, economic and social sciences, ecology, humanities and indigenous knowledge and a tool kit of skills for community educating and organising.


In 2015 IACD launched the findings of an international survey that attempted to map qualifying/graduate courses around the world which ‘claimed’ in their course publicity to be teaching community development. Over 1000 such programmes were identified. The findings of the mapping study were announced at two well attended sessions – at the 50th anniversary conference of the Community Development Journal in Europe and at the US Community Development Society Kentucky conference in the USA.

One of the follow ons from this work has included the link up between IACD, the American CDS and the New Zealand ACDA to launch the Global Community Development Exchange repository of teaching and learning resources. This on-line resource bank includes CD education course curricula outlines. Still at an early stage of development, GCDEX which was only launched in late 2016 is a rich source for resources for CD educators and students. Another outcome from the Kentucky event, has been the success of Kentucky University in securing c $750k to review CD education degree programs in the US. This two year action research program will include the networking of CD educators across America. (You can find more information about GCDEX and the University of Kentucky initiative on the News Pages of this website)

Over the past forty years, since IACD first hosted an international clearing house for CD training programs, a number of national initiatives at networking CD trainers have developed, notably in Scotland and Ireland. And in the recent past EU funding has enabled networking and partnerships between CD education providers across Europe. However a sustained international forum that can network and support existing and new CD education and professional qualifying training programmes globally has not occurred. This is in stark contrast to the much more effective international networking in Social Work education through the International Association of Schools of Social Work.

With the successful launch of GCDEX, the US initiative and others, is the time is now right for IACD to establish a global forum or CoP (community of practice) for departments and individual educators teaching professional community development? Such a forum could for example:
-develop and promote excellence in community development education, research and scholarship globally.
-create and maintain a dynamic community of practice of CD educators and their programmes.
-support and facilitate participation in mutual exchanges of information and expertise.
-represent CD education at the international level.

IACD Training Committee members have recently begun to discuss this idea and will be considering how to take it forward at the forthcoming Training Committee meeting in early October, with the proposal of launching a global forum for CD educators at the World Community Development Conference in Ireland in 2018.

We welcome feedback on this idea from members teaching CD around the world. Please send your thoughts to Charlie McConnell. Charlie is leading IACD’s current work on developing international standards for CD.

Following adoption of the IACD global definition of community development at the 2016 AGM, the IACD Training and Professional Development Committee established a joint project team in partnership with the Community Learning and Development Standards Council Scotland. This project team has now produced a Draft Guidance document that the Training Committee is putting out for member consultation.

Full IACD members will receive the full document this week. You can however find the document here IACD 2017 Draft Standards Guidance

The Training Committee wishes to have members’ feedback on the Draft Guidance over the next three months. Is this Guidance helpful for explaining your practice? Could it be used to inform community development posts job descriptions? Could it be used as a framework for the design of professional community development training?

The report is print ready should you wish to print it off to share with colleagues. We would ask that IACD members share and disseminate the document widely across your networks and encourage group debate with your professional colleagues and indeed with the communities with which you may be working. We are very keen to encourage wide discussion amongst those engaged in community development across the world.
In reading and commenting on the document, you may wish to consider the following questions to stimulate discussion (but please don’t be constrained by them):
How well do the standards fit with and reflect your work?
What if anything is missing in relation to aspects of practice?
How might you use the standards to support your own practice development?
What would help you use them in your work?
How might the standards inform the professional training of community development students e.g in terms of course design and content?
How might the standards inform the continuing professional development of community development practitioners, as we define them in the document, to prepare them for the changing challenges in your country?
We very much look forward to hearing back from you. Please send your comments marked Community Development Standards to Charlie McConnell at



Further background:

Research by IACD has identified several hundred graduate level training programmes which include Community Development as a part of the undergraduate degree[2]. Some were specialist Community Development degrees; others link community development with other disciplines such as Health, Economic Development, Social Work, Rural Development or International Development. This research did not look in detail at what these degrees taught nor tried to assess their quality, but the fact they exist and are marketed as providing education and training to enable students to enter a career in Community Development indicates that practice is taking place in many countries across the developing and developed world.

IACD does not have information has to the size of this workforce internationally, but anecdotal evidence from the members attending the IACD/CDS workshops and generally from IACD members around the world, indicates that since the financial crash in 2008 and subsequent public sector cuts there has been a significant fall in the number of community development practitioners employed directly by public bodies, such as local government. In addition reduction in public expenditure has also influenced the funding available for non-governmental organisations working nationally and internationally to employ community development type posts. That said a very rough guesstimate of the international professional community development workforce would run into many tens of thousands.

The adoption of the SDGs by the U.N. presents a huge opportunity for Community Developers to demonstrate how to build the capacities of communities to engage in the SDG agenda, whether that be strengthening the resilience of communities to deal with climate change, to health promotion, poverty reduction and lifelong education.
In 2016 the Board of IACD approved the 2016-20 Strategic Plan. This included the following strategic priority – To advocate for the discipline and the methods of Community Development. This has been taking taken forward in the Association’s work plan, working with national partners.

The fact that different national CD networks and agencies have produced National Occupational Standards and Codes is a tremendous starting point. Over the past two decades or more work has been undertaken in different countries to agree the competences required for practice and thereby what knowledge, skills and values practitioners should have. The National Standards and Codes that we identified however have generally emerged in developed countries and primarily for work within those countries. IACD is not aware of National Occupational Standards or Codes of Ethics having been devised for Community Development practice in developing countries, although some may exist. Also all of the Standards that we have identified pre-date the adoption of the SDGs and need to be adapted in light of that.

Further reading:


In February 2017 we ran two workshops at the 2017 international IACD/ACDA conference in New Zealand. Below is the result of the combined brainstorming.


  • Organising
  • Able to instil trust
  • Resilience and ability to sit with and manage change
  • Educational (formal and informal)
  • Able to engage and connect easily
  • Able to work with diverse communities, ideally with indigenous languages and awareness of culture of people you are working with (e.g. dress codes)
  • Good written and oral communication – ability to build a case and write a report. Ability to turn technical language into Plain English (language)
  • Listening and questioning
  • Small ‘p’ political
  • Facilitation
  • Group work
  • Project management and business planning
  • Administrative
  • Use of ICT and media
  • Problem solving
  • Networking
  • Strategic thinking, seeing things holistically
  • Managing conflict and ability to mediate
  • Being passionate
  • Being transparent but also able to keep things confidential as appropriate
  • Self-reflection and emotional intelligence
  • Awareness of need for continuous learning
  • Research and analysis
  • Confidence
  • Leadership
  • Fundraising
  • Tenacious
  • Flexible
  • Ability to work bottom up and top down when necessary
  • Advocacy
  • Networking
  • Negotiating
  • Political
  • Awareness of one’s own power and ability to influence
  • Ability to take the lead when necessary to help with group decision-making
  • Ability to assist community to take the lead and to know when to step back
  • Self care
  • Energy
  • Empathy


  • Community development theory and history nationally and internationally
  • National and international policies as they impact/relate to CD
  • Different understanding of community – interest, place, identity
  • Sustainable development, especially the SDGs
  • Local knowledge
  • Urban and rural planning and participative planning
  • Structural theories of causes of poverty/disadvantage/inequality
  • Project management and business planning
  • Fundraising and where to get money and resources
  • Politics and public policy
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Ecology


  • Being open minded
  • Respect for difference
  • Social justice
  • Environmental justice
  • Political justice
  • Human rights
  • Equal rights Anti-discrimination – gender/race/ability etc.
  • Sensitivity to different cultures and cultural norms
  • Not being neutral – being e.g. on the side of the poor and disadvantaged
  • Dedication
  • Professionalism
  • Accountability of decisions
  • Respect
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Compassionate
  • Reliability
  • Humility
  • Kindness

It may be that you already have similar lists/ statements in your country that we are not aware of. Please send these to marked CD Standards. If you are interested in participating via Livestream in the consultation workshop, please let us know before the end of February.


Our priority from 2016-20 will be to provide learning support to assist members to engage with and understand the SDG agenda. 

The new SDG agenda presents challenge and opportunity for professionals working in community development. For too long perhaps some community developers have equated their work with social development programmes, or with somewhat small scale local economic development. Whilst others in our field have engaged more in environmental education and protection. We must bring these insights together if we are to help communities make real world connections between the social, the economic and the environmental. Indeed one should add to that the political and the cultural development role that community development practitioners can play

The Training, Publications and Professional Development Committee is currently designing an on-line blended learning IACD certificated programme. More news will be posted about this programme in March 2017.

In addition, the Training and Professional Development Committee is also responsible for:

  • overseeing the development of the Global Community Development Exchange (see this page on the website). This is a global repository of teaching and learning resources for those working, teaching or studying to work in, community development;
  • the development of international occupational standards for work in community development. You can find out more about this initiative on the Policy Positions page of this website;
  • overseeing the publication of IACD’s Practice Insights magazine and any other IACD publications.



Despite cuts in some areas of public expenditure in the United States, professional community development degree programs continue to increase in the United States. But some critics assert that the field is fragmented and disjointed. The University of Kentucky Department of Community and Leadership Development in 2017 received a $740,000 (U.S.) three year grant to address this fragmentation. The research will address 7 major objectives:

1) Conduct a national study of the status quo of graduate and undergraduate programs in community development;

2) Build a network of community development educators by convening a national conference that focuses on innovative curriculum educational practices, student development and professional development needs.

3) Convene a summit of diverse community education leaders to develop a national agenda for community development education

4) Build institutional capacity to support community development education by creating a virtual community of practice to share educational research, practices, resources and community engagement techniques.

5) Develop a special issue of Community Development that focuses on pedagogical theories and philosophies, disseminate innovation, best practices and future trends.

6) Encourage instructional and programmatic innovation within community development education through mini-grant system established for graduate and undergraduate educators,.

7) Enhance cultural compétence among community development education faculty; heightening instructors’ abilities to create inclusive educational environments for increased diverse student participation.

Several IACD members are closely involved in the project team, including Cari Patterson, former IACD Secretary General, Ron Hustedde, former Vice President and past Community Development Society President.  Bryan Hains the current president of the American Community Development Society is the lead investigator on the initiative. (see picture)

This study is the largest research and development program in community development education for many years, and IACD will be supporting it fully. The timing of the study links well with the Association’s parallel work on developing international standards for community development education and practice. Ron Hustedde, the lead instigator behind the project is a member of the IACD Training and Professional Development committee and has been briefing the committee since the early days of the project design.