Community Development Stream
The adult educator may call himself or herself an agricultural extension agent, a health worker, a community organizer, a literacy teacher or any number of titles. It is not the title but the purpose of assisting women and men to realize themselves through the acquisition of skills and knowledge which identifies the authentic adult educator.
— J. Roby Kidd
Beginning in October 2005, the Department of Adult Education, in collaboration with the Coady International Institute offers a new community development stream in the existing Master of Adult Education Program. The stream provides community development practitioners with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the ways in which adult education methods and principles can be applied as the means for community development and change at the local, regional, national or international level. Maintaining a vibrant democratic society rests on two assumptions--that citizens have the capacity to learn and dialogue about their society, and that they have skills and conditions for participation.
This stream enables practitioners to deepen their understanding of the ways in which adult education methods and principles can be applied in community development as well as the ways in which community development creates spaces for individual and collective learning. Individuals often learn through their informal involvement in "communities of practice." Students are provided with guidance in defining a professional and academic area of focus within community development in a Northern or Southern setting. Focus can be on traditional communities bound by location, or on communities of culture and practice that can cross borders.
Research areas that students in the community development stream have explored include:
- Community-driven peace education and nonviolent conflict resolution methods
- Needs assessment for an adult education and community development centre in an Indigenous community in Nova Scotia.
- Informal leadership in community-driven development
Other areas of specialization include, but are not limited to:
- Participatory action research
- Participatory project planning and development
- Community based natural resource management
- Health promotion
- Community leadership and capacity building
- Citizenship learning
The community development stream is an out-growth of a long standing StFX tradition which combines adult education and community development. The Antigonish Movement, a program of community self-reliance, began on the StFX University campus. Today the Extension Department carries out the earlier work within a broader mission in Northeast Nova Scotia, and the Coady International Institute extends the principles of adult education to community development leaders from countries all over the globe.
Reflective Practice Stream
"The nature of our actions corresponds to or connects with the nature of our understanding. Critical understandings lead us to critical action."
P. Freire. (1973). Education for critical consciousness. London, UK: Bloomsbury, p. 44.
Adults have a rich repertoire of experience that they can tap as a source for learning. The more adults are aware of and able to systematically reflect on their wealth of experiences at work, play, and service, the more they learn and can apply these learnings in a myriad of ways. Frequently cited as a component of “best practice” in disciplines ranging from health, urban planning, law, to business, reflective practice: alerts us to problems; grounds our actions in accurate information; fosters trust in our own experiences and those of learners; helps us uncover more effective and informed responses to situations and challenges, and justifies the use of diverse teaching and training methods. Reflective practice is therefore an integral, ongoing component of the Master of Adult Education program because it is the foundation for effective self-directed learning.
The Reflective Practice Stream aims to foster more critically reflective learning in professionals who work in a range of contexts and settings such as:
• Community colleges (ESL teachers, Early Childhood Educators, Dental Hygienists, etc.)
• Health (Nursing, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapy, Physician, Dietitian, etc.)
• International and community development
• Management and Human Resources
• Literacy organizations
• Legal aid, police trainers, and correctional services
• Programs for youth, immigrants, the elderly, people with intellectual or physical differences.
Students in the Reflective Practice Stream are invited to explore a range of areas within the field of adult education ranging from transformative learning, organizational learning and adult development, to social justice education, feminist approaches, and environmental education. Research topics that students in the reflective practice stream have investigated include:
Example one: Examining the learning journey of three nurses in community practice.
Example two: Workplace learning: Critical reflection on teaching managers
Example three: Community college pedagogy: A course revisited.
For further inquiries contact the Adult Education Department.