Asset-Based and Citizen-led Development

Asset-Based and Citizen-led Development

On campus class cancelled for 2020. Check back for our online offerings.

This course is built on lessons learned from communities around the world that are driving their own development and are engaged in equitable partnerships with outside institutions. Rather than starting with needs and deficits, an Asset-Based Citizen-led Development (ABCD) approach helps communities to identify and build upon strengths and assets. This course will introduce participants to principles, methods and tools that feed directly into community development initiatives designed to stimulate and support citizen-led efforts.

During this course, you will:

  • differentiate between needs-based and asset-based approaches to development on a personal and professional level;
  • practice participatory tools and methods for uncovering community assets and strengths in the classroom and in a nearby community;
  • share international examples of communities that have successfully driven their own development and sustained positive change over time;
  • experience first-hand practical examples of ABCD in action in local communities;
  • challenge and problematize the role of outside institutions in responding to citizen-led development;
  • explore how asset-based and rights-based approaches can be integrated to challenge power dynamics at the community level and between communities and institutions; and
  • unpack and respond to the critiques of asset-based approaches.

Who should take the program?

This course is intended for change-makers of any age or sector who are questioning the relevance of externally-driven projects and programs based predominantly on needs and deficits. Participants who take this course want to be exposed to, and jointly contribute to, practical alternatives that start with community strengths. This includes government agencies, NGOs, universities, grant-making organizations, and community-builders.

Classroom Methods

The course will include a variety of participatory and experiential learning methods by which participants will share their experiences and deepen their learnings. These will include lecture presentations, small group discussions, role-plays and simulation exercises, video/written case studies, guest speakers, and skill-building exercises. Participants will benefit from visits to local field sites to engage practitioners and dialogue with stakeholders. All presentations and instructional materials will be in English.


A mix of institutional and private donors who share Coady Institute’s vision of community-based, citizen-led change subsidize the institute’s educational programs. As possible, Coady will provide qualifying candidates with a partial bursary to assist with course fees. However, all participants will be responsible for fees payable of at least $2,250 CAD, as well as travel and other costs. Fees are payable prior to the start of the selected course.

Full Bursaries of $2,250 towards costs are available from the Centre for Employment Innovation for eligible applicants from Nova Scotia. This includes applicants working for (or in a Board Director position in) a program or agency engaged in employment services delivery (priority is given to Nova Scotia Works centres) as well as those engaged in social innovation activities to alleviate poverty, strengthen livelihoods and create more equitable employment and entrepreneurial opportunities with and for systemically oppressed groups, including African Nova Scotians, People of African Descent, First Nations, Indigenous Peoples, and persons with disability.


Coady International Institute does not accept third party applications. Individuals need to submit their application via Coady’s website and should use caution when approached by those offering services to complete the application and admissions process.