C101 Community Worker Program Introduction

Launched in 1975, the Community Worker Program of George Brown College was created as a response to mounting requests for individuals trained in social and political analysis, program leadership and community advocacy, support and development. Rooted in principles of anti-oppression, social justice and community empowerment, the program emphasizes the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to work with a diversity of largely marginalized and urban-centred communities, in ways that are responsive to their multiple and changing needs.

One of the few programs of its kind in North America, the Community Worker Program prepares students to work in solidarity with communities, from a rights-based and empowerment approach, toward lasting social change. Students are taught to understand and analyse the historical, social, political, economic and systemic ways in which current issues, needs and injustices have developed and continue to be experienced by Canada’s many marginalized communities.  The program’s multi-level approach to community work (individual, community, civil society, governmental and global) enables graduates to work in a variety of different roles (community organizer, group facilitator, popular educator, program manager, advocate, etc.) and in a number of different settings, i.e. issue-based organizations, resident/tenant associations, community centres, self-help organizations, advocacy groups and in the many social service agencies found throughout our multicultural city.

The two-year (four semester) diploma program offers students a theoretical and practical education in the field of community work. Noted hallmarks of the program include an integration of university-level academic components, emphasis on self-reflective practice, critical social analysis, group facilitation and mediation skills, working with diversity and a strong international component. The program is further enriched through its partnership with the Sahkitcheway (Aboriginal) Student Centre. Courses are divided into four core areas of instruction; Community Work Theory & Practice, Social & Political Analysis, Interpersonal, Group Skills & Counselling, and Field Work. In the Second, Third and Fourth semesters, students spend two days per week in supervised field placements.  By the end of the program, students are expected to have completed two different field placements, a 200-hour placement in their second semester and a 400-hour placement over the third and fourth semesters. First year students may apply for one of our international placements to either Cuba or Jamaica.

Modeled on popular education and learner-centred techniques, the program’s tradition of participatory learning is seen in the integration of theory and practice with classroom dialogue where students are encouraged to share their ideas, insights and experience. A wide variety of innovative instruction techniques also reflect a program curriculum that is cross-cultural, anti-oppressive and critically engaging. The Faculty has, collectively, over 100 years of experience working and teaching within fields of community development, adult basic education, community service, advocacy, activism, and international development.

In keeping with a tradition of attracting diverse, talented and dedicated student populations, the Community Worker Program requires a high level of maturity, personal and social responsibility and a commitment to principles of social justice, diversity and community work. Students must be prepared to examine their own behaviour and ideas critically and must be able to work with others, across all differences, in a respectful and supportive manner.

Graduates of the Community Worker Program are often employed by both social service agencies and civil society organizations, including co-operatives, community centres and advocacy groups. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to apply for a professional designation with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Those wishing to further their education, may fast-track into programs offered by York University and the University of Algoma with which the Community Worker Program has articulation agreements.

Trained in skills ranging from individual counselling to group facilitation and mediation, from community organizing and international development to policy analysis and program development, Community Worker students are well-equipped to work with one of the world’s most diverse populations, across a range of issues, in times of mounting social crises. As it approaches its 40th anniversary, the Community Worker Program is proud to continue a long tradition of graduating Community Workers who are committed to principles of social justice, anti-oppression and the vision of a more just society.

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