Looking at Canadian Community Development: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Theory

Sponsored by University of Ottawa Press

Recorded on 06/08/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 132

Theory is not a hard-and-fast rule. It’s a fluid practice, something that warps and bends due to new information, context, and the situation it’s being applied to.

Sarah Todd, of Carleton University, believes that one of the dangers of applying theory to community work is clinging so tightly to a belief that it drowns out that community’s needs. When privileged, university-educated outsiders enter highly marginalized communities, they must recognize that “one always has to be open to the possibility that your theory may be wrong and it may not work, and that you have to create the openness and the humility for the community to tell you that and for you to hear that and pivot and change in your practice.”

In this second episode, Todd explains how her book, Canadian Perspectives on Community Development, seeks to explore the many types of community development theory, the flexibility of each, and how theory can connect a practitioner to the larger goal of community work. “Is what you’re doing actually creating more equality, or is it just making people settle down and live with the conditions of inequality that they’re becoming accustomed to? It lets us ask those critical questions of the work that we’re doing.”


About the guest:

Sarah Todd
Professor and Director of the School of Social Work
Carleton University


Enjoy the episode? Listen to the rest of the series: