What is community development?

According to Child Family Community Australia, Community development is a process where agencies encourage community members to identify and take collective action on significant issues. Here, community members consider Community workers to be experts in their lives and communities, hence valuing their services and community knowledge and wisdom.

The United Nations defines community development as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.

Research shows that Community development is rooted in the belief that all individuals should have access to health, wealth, justice, wellbeing, and opportunity. It’s noteworthy that the notion of community development owes a great deal to the efforts of colonial administrators.


Hence Community Development can be summarized by the following concepts:

  1. Reflection-action cycle, you do a specific action upon reflection or thorough analysis of any given community facing or confronting a particular situation. Then you reflect upon the action taken on its effect and consequences.
  2. Whether in knowledge or skills, people’s empowerment in a community capacitates them to act upon their own volition.
  3. Awareness building makes people wise and participative in their community for the common good and welfare.


The essence of community development is in:

the values that underpin it such as –

  • Trust (including respect)
  • Mutuality
  • Integrity
  • Promoting agency: empowerment & enhancing capacity

and the approach such as –

  • Co-ownership
  • Equity
  • Shared values
  • Enhancing capacity through the intentional development of opportunity
  • Collaboration


What is involved in community development?

It is a vague term, but it has a particular meaning within the government and city planning fields. It is a set of strategies to improve the overall well-being, emphasizing equal citizen access to housing, parks, employment, public services, etc. Specific programs that have been used to achieve this end have included the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), New Markets Tax Credits, Community Development Corporations (CDCs), redevelopment programs, and Model Cities (going back to the 1960s). It is essentially an effort to pool community resources to upgrade community conditions, resulting in broad benefits.

Applied community Development involves creating a community that meets the needs of people. You have to consider a community with many people like your family and children. A community with a diverse population might develop places, libraries, and community centers that cater to those who may need help adapting, speaking the language, and learning skills for jobs. Communities with many seniors might create shuttle services and home help services to meet their needs. A society that has deteriorated and been crime-infested needs to be revamped and given assets for pride, comfort, enjoyment, and safety for the residents.

What are the principles of community development?


Community Participation

Everybody has a valuable contribution to make, and community members may join in at any level. Volunteers and community members are vital to this decision-making, analysis, provision, involvement, and direction setting at all applied community development practice levels.

Community Ownership

Participants are actively engaged in decision-making and have ownership of the activities. It is a process of self-determination, awareness, and collective action.


A process that encourages individuals to meet their needs and aspirations in a self-aware and informed way takes advantage of their skills, experience, and potential. Change and growth occur through informing and empowering individuals and communities.

Lifelong Learning

Learning is incorporated into community development actions, supporting and building people’s abilities, knowledge, skills, and endurance. Additionally, they create the health, wellbeing, and connection of individuals and their families via formal and informal education, occupation, and self-development pathways.



The diverse contributions that people make are valued, no matter what their background or varying abilities. Individual and local needs are acknowledged and addressed, often through informal interaction. Identifying these needs and issues through a range of methods is instrumental to informing the planning and development of activities and programs.

Access and Money

Programs are accessible and welcoming. They promote a fairer distribution of economic power and resources between individuals by enhancing their communities’ social, ecological, economic, and cultural infrastructures.

Social Action

Internal and external factors affecting the local community are examined, and connections between people, organizations, groups, and districts are transformed through collective actions.


It can also be considered in the context of social movements. For example, we are advocating for changes in shared social values.



In fulfilling group and individual requirements, applied community growth professionals act together with, or on behalf of, members.



Linking, forming alliances, cooperating, and working together with people, agencies, authorities, and companies are crucial, together with the interaction between informal and formal procedures to achieve connections within the regional communities.

Self Help

Individuals are encouraged to come together in a caring team environment to share knowledge and information. They also share abilities and lifestyle experiences so that every member can achieve their targets.


Culturally Safe and Affirming

Cultural Diversity is a strength the requires mutual understanding and respect. Cultural practices, language, and values differ but can be a powerful unifying force. Community Development provides a safe cultural space to affirm diverse groups’ positive characteristics and identify common goals and universal human aspirations.

Builds Community Capacity and Resilience

Personal resilience is interdependent with social stability. Community Development builds relationships between people and helps resolve conflicts by making understanding and accepting of differences. Community Development raises the capacity of a community to support those most disadvantaged. This capacity-building outcome is also referred to as “Social Capital.”

Community Development supports socially conscious democracy.

It engages community members in the democratic process. It values the perspective of every citizen. It helps them make informed decisions and seeks to educate them in inspirational and efficient ways.

Community Development builds healthy, sustainable communities.

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion states that the prerequisites for health in a community are peace, shelter, enough food, adequate income to support individuals and families, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice, and equity.

Community Development is ubiquitous and builds adaptive strategies.

Applied community development is a process and an outcome that manages the inevitable and unexpected consequences of change. A community may be bound by geography or shared goals and ideas geographically dispersed across the globe and traverse cultural and national boundaries.

Societal leadership is fostered from within the community.

A Community Development practitioner does not direct it. Instead, a core principle of Community development is a commitment to participatory planning.

Action orientated research

Community Development requires constant research and should be evidence-based on both Qualitative and Quantitative data.

Community Development builds shared identity and belonging.

We all want to belong to a group that accepts us and values our contribution.

What are the obstacles to community development?

Applied Community development is based on human rights, equality, social justice, diversity, and respect. Community stories are based on self-determination, where people and communities have the right to make their own decisions and choices. The barriers in community development are:

1) Lack of communication

2) Lack of public participation

3) Lack of competency-based Leadership

4) Lack of infrastructure

5) No initial funding

6) Waste dumping

7) Lack of short-term funding

8) Lack of ongoing funding

9) Lack of stakeholder participation.

For the community’s development, the people living in any society must understand their responsibility and collectively overcome these obstacles. There are others obstacles to development like Conception of time, Political context, Colonial legacy, Socioculture heritage, Sociopolitical organization. These obstacles create hurdles for the development of any community.


Applied Community development- Scope and Career Opportunities


As the world is changing, we need to change with it. For those who’d like to pursue a career in community development, the scope is endless Gain the knowledge, experience, and leadership skills required to succeed in careers in government and nonprofit organizations with a master’s in community development.

Some of the skills you will learn with a masters in community development

How to Grow an organization

Monitoring & Evaluating Programs 

Sustainable Nature Use

Researching Social Change 

21st Century Communications


Top Community Development Courses offered by institutions

  1. Masters in Applied Community Development By Future Generations University

The master’s program is flexible to fit you, allowing you to focus your degree around your interests and career goals. You can be full-time and finish in 20 months, or you can spread out the degree over three or four years to fit your work and personal life.

  1. Master in Community Development and Social Innovation By Keystone master studies

Starting from the UN sustainable development goals, this master’s program in Community Development and Social Innovation offers a platform for learning about cooperation and leading for change.

  1. Master’s in Community Development From University Of Victoria

Designed with working professionals in mind, the Master of Arts in Community Development (MACD) will build and develop your capacity to become a successful leader in the civil society and social economy, whether you work or volunteer in the nonprofit sector either locally or internationally

  1. Community Development and Action (M.Ed.) From Peabody College

The Master’s degree in community development and action is a two-year graduate program. It is through the Department of Human and Organizational Development. It attracts students from around the world committed to learning how to create positive, community-level change.