Village Earth/CSU Online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development

The Village Earth/CSU Online Certificate Program was founded in 2003 to serve as an online and affordable practitioner-to-practitioner training program for community development workers around the globe. To earn a certificate in sustainable community development, you must complete the required course “Approaches to Community Development” and any three elective courses of your choosing. Each course runs five weeks and requires a minimum of 20 hours of student participation. You may take courses in any order. Each course costs $390.

The courses use the flexibility of online delivery to help you learn through case studies, exercises, and group discussions, providing a complete learning environment. You will learn from, and share experiences with, practitioners working in the field all over the world. These courses give experienced practitioners a fresh perspective and provide novices and volunteers the training they need to be successful working in the field of development.

All courses are offered in partnership with Colorado State University Online.

Browse classes in the VE/CSU Online Certificate Program

Winter I Session

GSLL 1503 – Community Mobilization

This training draws on the theories and methods of Brazilian educator Paulo Friere, whose work has guided some of the most successful development and education programs around the globe, including the Orangi Pilot Project in Bangladesh, The NAAM movement in Burkina Faso, and the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, among others.

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Fall I Session

GSLL 1509 – Development and the Politics of Empowerment

Through a careful investigation of the historical applications of development, we will explore the idea that development is an inherently political process and challenge the claim that any development NGO is apolitical. Additionally, we will strive to identify successful methods of community empowerment through political organization.

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Summer II Session

GSLL 1510 – Community-Based Mapping

This course explores theories, ethics, applications, and methods of community-based mapping and its role in participatory learning and action as well as larger processes of integrated community-based development.

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Summer I Session

GSLL 1524 – Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development

This course will examine entrepreneurship and enterprise generation as a key foundation of the development of both economic and social capital, as well as individual and community empowerment. Its main emphasis will be the exploration of entrepreneurship with an imperative to drive social change and build sustainable ventures.

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Spring II Session

GSLL 1507 – Tourism and Development

This course will explore successful tourism initiatives as well as problematic initiatives. We will critically examine the nature of tourism, its impacts on communities and considerations that must be taken into account in order for a tourism project to have the desired impact of pursuing a local vision for development without destroying.

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Spring II Session

GSLL 1517 – Community-Based Organizing

Taking a practical “hands-on” perspective, this course will explore the theories, tools, styles and challenges of community-based organizing. It will discuss practical strategies for developing community leadership and working with marginalized communities, exploring the ideas and examples from Evo Morales, Paulo Freire, Saul Alinsky, Sub-Comandante Marcos, the Bridge Immigrant Rights experiment and Martin Heidegger.

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Spring I Session

GSLL 1514 – Building Climate Change Resilient Communities

This class will explore key concepts of resilience, vulnerability, adaptive capacity and social capital in the context of community exposure to climate change. We will engage in critical analysis of tools and methods for building resilience to climate change and will look at several case studies from around the world.

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Spring I Session

GSLL 1518 – Community-Based Food Systems

During this five week course, you will learn about various approaches to building community-based food systems and movements for food justice around the world. Together, we will evaluate successful efforts at food system relocalization and the protection of community food resources, as well as the factors that threaten these efforts.

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