HADM 315
Health and Community Development (OCW_Rev. C4)


HADM 315
Health and Community Development (OCW_Rev. C4)

Health Administration 315

Course Information


Welcome to Health Administration 315: Health and Community Development, a course where you will experience theory and practice combined as praxis. The intent behind our course design is to model participatory action research methods in the application and integration of community development (CD) principles into primary health care and related contexts of human and community services.

This course is a revised version of a course originally created for Athabasca University’s Certificate in Health Development Administration[1]. This current revision of HADM 315 was prompted by a desire on the part of the course coordinator to make the reading material and the course more readily accessible to the global community. Hence, this version of the course was created using Open Education Resources supported by funding from the Alberta Innovation and Advanced Education's Campus Alberta Open Educational Resources Initiative (ABOER).

This Course Information contains essential information about the course design, the course materials, and the procedures you should follow to complete the course successfully. Read this section through carefully before you begin your study of the course units. Be sure to contact your tutor if you have any questions about the course itself or how to proceed with your studies.

In HADM 315: Health and Community Development, you will have opportunities to achieve general educational outcomes at the breadth and depth required at the senior level of university studies (critical thinking, writing, ethics and research methods), in addition to learning specific course content related to health and community development.

We have integrated readings, videos, and activities that will enable you to experience CD in action, with grounding in local, national, and global issues, and the reality of people's communities and lived experiences. Our CD process embodied working in partnership with multicultural community experts in community development. You will be introduced to these individuals and groups as they describe their work and the different approaches employed with their communities of interest. We follow the inception, growth, and evolution of one of our community partners to show the human side of community development – the faces and hearts of it.

Reflecting on the readings, forum discussions, and on your experiences with and in communities, forms a significant component of this course. The practice of self-reflection is linked to learning from significant life experiences (Argyris & Schön, 1974). As a professional, you are expected to continually expand your knowledge by learning from experience; as a reflective practitioner, you are expected to use this knowledge from reflection to make improvements to your work (Schön, 1983, 1987).

Reflection and reflective practice (the ability to learn effectively from one’s experience and to identify learning needs) have become increasingly critical in developing and maintaining competence in educational programs for health professionals. From our many years of teaching health professionals, we have seen that reflective journaling can enhance student reflection, facilitate their critical thought, and help them express their feelings. Students also tend to become more focused in their thinking and writing.

Reflection is important for practitioners and leaders alike, both in health and community development, and in the broader fields of health and health administration. William Hatcher (2014) reminds us that, historically, great leaders have always possessed the ability to reflect on their decisions, and this reflection is critical to public and community administration. He wrote:

Successful communities are those that learn from experience and can adapt to changing environments. … [T]he adaption is guided by self-reflective leaders. Having managers competent in reflective practice will help communities engage in the ongoing process of developing a vision, implementing that vision and readjusting the vision. This process is one of learning from experience. By practicing self-reflection, managers will help direct their communities toward experiential learning. (Hatcher, 2014, para. 9)

The use of reflective journaling and online forum discussions throughout the course is meant to help you take an active approach to learning, and to identify your needs for further learning. These activities can help you clarify your personal beliefs, attitudes, and values in the context of the professional culture of community development. You are invited to use these tools to facilitate your development as a professional who is self-aware, and therefore able to engage in self-monitoring and self-regulation as a practitioner in communities or elsewhere.

How you meet the learning outcomes for the course, the pace that you set, and the degree to which you become engaged is up to you. However, for praxis to occur, it is important that you complete the activities that have you share your learning with others, and learn from what they share in turn. Learning how to build and strengthen relationships is important for your own learning, and effective relationship-building is an essential skill in any community development work.

You will be learning from community development practitioners as you go through the course. In particular, we will be following the birth, development, growth, and vision of two community organizations with whom we have worked in close collaboration for this course: Four Worlds Centre for Development Learning, and the Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative (MCHB). Learning from their work, we gain a clear sense of how Community Development (CD) can evolve over time. All of the teaching and learning experiences in this course are guided by principles that resonate with our values and beliefs about human dignity and relationships, democratic process, shared abundance, and a genuine love for people.


[1] The Certificate in Health Development Administration was developed collaboratively through a partnership agreement between Athabasca University, the Yellowhead Tribal Council (YTC), and Health Canada’s Medical Services Branch (MSB). In April 1986, Health and Welfare Canada's Medical Services Branch (the department responsible for First Nation and Inuit peoples’ health services) introduced the Health Program Transfer Policy. The rationale for the policy was to decentralize the resources to each First Nation’s reserve across Canada (approximately 630 in number) in order for all reserves to have the ability to design, deliver, and administer community health care programs to meet their community health care needs. In Alberta, the Yellowhead Tribal Council (YTC) (which includes the Alexander, Alexis Nakota Sioux, Enoch Cree #440, O’Chiese, and Sunchild First Nations) assumed the responsibility for providing economic, social, and educational support services to First Nation member bands. Health Administration 315: Health and Community Development was one of the courses in the program.

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