As a community development major, you’ll learn about poverty alleviation—how to help others in a way that’s helpful and not hurtful. Throughout your coursework, you’ll learn about environmental stewardship, creation care, and the effect of current events on the world. Your studies and interactions with faculty will teach you how to build stronger and more resilient communities.
You’ll learn from guest speakers. You’ll interact directly and electronically with community development professionals. You’ll discuss videos and articles on topics and issues in the field. And you’ll make an impact by working directly with organizations.
What can I do with a degree in community development from Dordt University?
Majoring in community development opens a variety of career opportunities. You can pursue a job in community education, public services, or social services. Majors also complete an internship with an organization focused on the type of community development they’re most interested in. Our students have interned for organizations such as World Renew, Christian Reformed World Missions, Habitat for Humanity, and World Relief.
Building Inspectors check the requirements, quality, and general safety of buildings.
City Planners perform a variety of tasks that overall help develop and manage their city.
Program Officers perform all the tasks that fall under overseeing and managing an organization's programs, budgets, projects, and development.
Community Development Major
You will develop expertise in a specific area by selecting from among several areas of specialization as well as building on our foundational core program. You will learn from guest speakers, interact directly and electronically with community development professionals, discuss videos and articles on topics and issues in the field, and work with organizations. As a community development major, you will choose two areas of specialization. A minor requires you to choose one area of specialization. Most minors can choose an area of specialization that relates closely to their major.
You will overall learn how to help others in a way that’s helpful and not hurtful. Environmental stewardship, creation care, and the effect of current events on the world are all topics that will come about in your coursework.
You'll learn and interact with guest speakers, community development professionals, and discuss different videos and articles on topics and issues in the filed. You will work directly with organizations which will allow you to make an immediate impact.
To learn more, you can also view the program strengths and learning outcomes for this program.
- Belief systems and culture
- Business and economics
- Communication and digital media production
- Community education
- Facilities and infrastructure
- Food systems
- Natural resources and the environment
- Public and environmental health
- Politics and social policy
Students looking to get a degree in community development will take a variety of courses from the community development sociology, theology, and social work programs. In addition, students will either complete an internship or a semester long cross-cultural experience approved by the community development program leader. Students will also choose a concentration.
- Community Development Seminar I: An introduction to the community development discipline with an emphasis on current events and a holistic understanding of the discipline. The class will meet in one three hour laboratory block and integrate guest speakers, discussion and analysis, field trips, and interaction (direct or electronic) with community development professionals. Graded on a pass/no record basis.
- Communities and the Environment: An introduction to contemporary environmental studies and creation care, with emphasis on class discussion of relationships between human population and resource use in light of biblical teaching about environmental stewardship. Particular attention is given to the biotic and ecological dimensions of creation stewardship and planetary distress.
- Field and Laboratory Investigations in Environmental Studies: A field and laboratory exploration of fundamental issues, concepts, and techniques of contemporary environmental studies with a biological and ecological focus. Includes visits to sites of natural history and stewardship interest both locally and regionally. Also includes an introduction to important technological tools in environmental studies and analysis of physical and biotic parameters of the environment. Required for students majoring or minoring in Environmental Studies or Community Development.
- Helping Communities Flourish: Christians are called to love their neighbors and can do so by working to strengthen communities in North America and throughout the world. In this course we will examine community development strategies and practices (historical and current) used in domestic, international, urban, and rural settings. Our goal will be to identify those that fit well with a Christian view of the world and are likely to help communities flourish in the long term. We will also explore how these practices and strategies can be successfully implemented.
- Community Development Seminar II: Christians are called to love their neighbors and can do so by working to strengthen communities in North America and throughout the world. In this course we will examine community development strategies and practices (historical and current) used in domestic, international, urban, and rural settings. Our goal will be to identify those that fit well with a Christian view of the world and are likely to help communities flourish in the long term. We will also explore how these practices and strategies can be successfully implemented.
- Community Development and the Kingdom of God: An exploration of the opportunities community development professionals have to live as kingdom citizens. This course will build on the framework established in Community Development 201, extending the theoretical and practical concepts and examining how they relate to our calling as Christians to work toward restoration and shalom in urban, rural, domestic, and international settings.
- Professional Conference Attendance: Participation in a professional community development conference. Examples include the ECHO conference and the International Development Conference at Calvin University. Pre-conference and post-conference activities and assignments will be utilized to help participants prepare for, and process, the experience.
- Sociology and Social Justice: Includes an examination of culture, socialization, social structure, group behavior, and inequalities (of class, race, and gender), as well as identifying and analyzing the pressing problems in our world that requires an understanding of social change that occurs through collective action and social movements. Through an exploration of predominant sociological theories, students are able to contrast those with a biblical worldview that challenges them to articulate how a reformed Christian understanding of creation (and norms) sin, redemption, and consummation may be used to positively affect social interaction, organizations, and institutions.
- Vulnerable Populations: A historical and contemporary analysis of groups considered vulnerable by economic and social standards in American society. Causes, consequences, and implications for society are examined from a biblical view of humankind with an emphasis on social work practice.
- Diversity and Inequality: Students examine the historical and contemporary factors related to diversity and inequality in North America and increase their appreciation for the contributions of diverse groups in culturally-pluralistic societies. The course assumes that human diversity is created good and explores how to discern that goodness after the Fall. Students assess their own biases in light of course material and increase their sensitivity to diversity.
- Christian Ethics: What does it mean to pursue the good life and how do we so as faithful disciples of Christ? What do we owe to God, neighbor, stranger, and enemy? Answers to these questions are more difficult to come by than we might expect – or hope. We live in a world rife with sin, corruption, and moral disagreement. Even faithful Christians can arrive at profoundly different moral judgments about life in the church and the world. This course aims to equip students with theological and ethical tools that they can use to reflect critically on what it means to live faithfully in contemporary society.
- Christian Mind and Heart: In conversation with great thinkers of the past, we will discuss the biblical foundation for Reformed thinking, the responsibility of humans to fulfill our mission as image-bearers in God’s world, and the development of a Reformed world and life view for actual Christian thinking and living. Students will explore significant issues of Christian life through personal and group projects that engage particular aspects of their major studies or life vision.
- Church, State, and Social Welfare: This course examines the question of which societal sphere is responsible for protecting vulnerable people. The course will follow the historical path of development of the modern social welfare institution, with a particular focus on the Progressive Era and the birth of social work and public administration. Students will examine structure, development, and contemporary response through discussion, research and varied readings on the biblical call to care for our neighbor, charity, social justice, and the normative role of the state and the church. Students will wrestle with this fundamental question: “How must I, acting alone, or in combination with others, behave towards vulnerable people?”
- Community Development Internship: Provides community development majors and minors with an opportunity to learn from professionals in the community development field, to apply the insights, skills, and principles they have learned in their coursework, and to serve a community in a meaningful way. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing; permission of internship coordinator.
Community Development Minor
Every community faces challenges. If you’re the kind of person who wants to work with them to overcome those challenges, consider a minor in community development. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to help communities flourish and experience the beauty and joy of God and His creation.Learn More
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