Leadership for Citizen-Led Development


In response to the ongoing COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic, many countries are currently in various states of lockdown and all of us are being encouraged by local, national, and global health authorities to significantly change our personal and organizational behaviours in response to the pandemic. Coady Institute has concluded that in current circumstances, the most responsible and prudent decision is to cancel or postpone all institute courses scheduled for our Antigonish campus from May to mid-August this year. Leadership for Citizen-Led Development, originally scheduled from April 2020 to February 2021, has now been cancelled. Those who have been accepted to the course have been notified, should you have additional questions please contact your student service representative.

Leadership for Citizen-Led Development

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In a globalized world, citizenship is rooted not in narrow, legalistic definitions of nationality but in the rights and responsibilities of local residents to determine effectively and collectively the futures of their communities through social mobilization, active engagement, and accountable governance. Leadership for Citizen-Led Development brings together a diverse cohort of learners and leaders committed to fostering social, economic, and political change processes that are citizen-led and community-driven. Through a blend of classroom, community, and on-line engagement, the course builds on participants’ lived experience and knowledge and enhanced through the lens of critical reflection. The participant-focused, participatory approach to education is learner-centered, asset-based, and holds the potential for both personal growth and societal transformation.

The program structure comprises three distinct elements over a ten-month period:

  • a one month pre-residential phase in which the participants undertake some initial readings and frame a proposed change initiative that will engage stakeholders in making change happen in their communities and organizations;
  • a three month residential phase at Coady Institute, on the campus of St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada, in which the full cohort of participants will be exposed to a range of strategies and skills required for launching new change processes and/or supporting and strengthening those change processes that are already underway. Participants will share and learn from their own diverse experiences in seeing change through to a successful conclusion, while observing firsthand how similar processes play out in Atlantic Canada;
  • a five month post-residential phase in which participants are supported by Institute staff and associates as they undertake their individual change initiatives (in their home country) and reflect upon the interplay between practice and learning. (This portion is done in participants’ home country)

 Personal benefits

  • enhanced understanding of key concepts and approaches for successful citizen-led development;
  • strengthened capacities in providing leadership to community-based change initiatives; and
  • deepened appreciation of the values underlying a people-centred, asset-based approach to addressing the global challenges of our time.

Participants will be familiar with concepts and approaches related to:

  • the role of leadership in citizen-led change processes;
  • change, power, systems, gender, globalization, sustainability and resilience;
  • social, economic and political change processes, with a focus on those that are citizen-led, community-driven and transformative;
  • the dynamics (challenges and opportunities) of governance, politics, and accountability at community-level and beyond;
  • the role of organizations, partnerships, networks, alliances and movements in making change happen.

Participants will have strengthened knowledge and skills related to:

  • facilitating and leading change in organizations, communities, and beyond;
  • strategic and tactical analysis of issues related to accountable democracies, inclusive economies, and resilient communities;
  • applying values and lenses (including equity, inclusion, participation and transparency) to their approaches, leadership and other activities;
  • adult and popular education, reflective practice and action research; and
  • community organizing, facilitation and group dynamics.

Participants will have successfully:

  • engaged in a diverse, intercultural peer-to-peer learning environment;
  • reflected on their own practices, motivations and attitudes towards their work, leadership and vision of the world;
  • planned, implemented, and evaluated change initiatives that address issues of inclusive economies, community resilience, and accountable democracies; and
  • formed a global cohort of change leaders supportive of one another’s work and learning.

Criteria for admission

  • a track record (at least 5 years experience) in community, social or economic development with a demonstrated leadership role that exhibits a commitment to and passion for citizen-led change processes;
  • a responsible position in a credible development organization (civil society organization, community-based organization, donor/philanthropic agency, research institution, social movements, social enterprise, etc.);
  • a minimum of college level education;
  • evidence of critical thinking, innovation and creative problem-solving related to development issues;
  • a proposed change initiative;
  • capacity to cover course fees and travel costs; and
  • strong oral and written English language.

One or another of these requirements may be waived in recognition of unique circumstances and exceptional candidates.

Who should take the program?

The course is ideal for development leaders and change makers engaged in designing, enabling, and driving change processes in communities and organizations.

The total cost of the 10-month program is $14,000 CAD. This covers all tuition, accommodations and meals, local (Canadian) travel and health insurance costs. Partial bursaries are available to eligible candidates with a maximum value of $10,000 CAD. Individual participants and/or their sponsoring organizations will be responsible for at least $4,000 CAD in fees, to be paid prior to the launch of the program. Travel and visa costs are also the responsibility of the applicant.


Please note that 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.



Access to the internet is required for the online portion of this course. You will need a computer, reliable internet access (high speed is best), speakers and microphone.