“In all our communities there are special people who give the place heart and soul. They are the community members who contribute their time, ideas and energy in big and small ways to reach out to each other and to create a better world,” says Capilano U instructor, Kathy Coyne.

It’s people like these, who want to bring positive change to their neighbourhoods, that Capilano U’s new two-year Community Leadership and Social Change diploma program aims to mentor and support.

“We expect the class to be a vibrant inter-generational group of changemakers,” says Kathy. “What they’ll all have in common is experience as community volunteers and the desire to make a difference.”

Equipped with a deeper understanding of community development, leadership, facilitation and project management, students will potentially become leaders and facilitators in their communities and in the non-profit sector, in positions ranging from program coordinators and fundraisers to volunteer coordinators and settlement workers.

Kathy says experiential learning is a key aspect of the program. In first year, students will do a three-credit service learning experience where they get credit for volunteering with a community organization. In second year, students take on a leadership role in a real world community project, applying their newly acquired skills to a particular sector like literacy, food security or health promotion. This might take the form of working with a community organization to develop a community kitchen for vulnerable seniors. Or it could mean getting involved as an environmental activist, exploring issues in depth and designing community engagement processes with community partners to raise awareness of specific environmental issues.

“It’s about fostering collaboration and dialogue, building capacity, and bringing real change to communities from the grass roots,” says Kathy. “I’m so excited to get all these amazing people in one room. I know the positive energy and creative ideas will be flowing. One of the most important benefits of the program will be the relationships students form with each other and with people from all sectors, cultures and walks of life.”

The Community Leadership & Social Change program starts this September. Applications are currently being accepted.

Submitted by Marketing & Communications