This non-credit Community-Engaged Learning Seminar for doctoral students brings together 25 doctoral students from across the university. You will discuss community-engaged learning and work on a collaborative research project with a community organization.

Doctoral students preparing for faculty positions will be able to enrich their teaching, research and professional service through community engagement. Doctoral students who plan to pursue non-academic positions can develop new skills and networks.

Program eligibility

University of Toronto doctoral students from all departments and programs are eligible to apply.

Students interested in community engagement who have not previously participated in any form of community placement (e.g. a previous program-related practicum or internship) are especially encouraged to apply.

How the program works

In 7 seminars over the course of the academic year, you will discuss community-engaged learning literature and your experiences in the field, undertake reflective exercises, and benefit from professional development activities. This will enhance your knowledge of and practice in:

  • community-engaged learning (based in service-learning pedagogy and including experiential education theory)
  • reflection and assessment in community-engaged work
  • social justice, ethics, power and privilege in community-engaged learning and scholarship
  • strategies for incorporating community engagement into academic and non-academic career and personal development

Seminar participants are expected to:

  • attend all seven seminars (and complete all required readings)
  • work in teams of three or four on a collaborative project with a community organization
  • complete two written reflections (750 words each) and one draft syllabus

The collaborative project will require 40 hours of work over the course of the academic year. Students will be able to rank which project they would like to contribute to once the seminar has begun.

Seminar schedule

All seminar sessions will be held once a month on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

  • September 23, 2020
  • October 21, 2020
  • November 18, 2020
  • January 13, 2021
  • February 10, 2021
  • March 10, 2021
  • April 7, 2021

Seminars will feature discussions of seminar readings, experiential learning activities and guest speakers.

Seminar topics may include:

  • the pedagogical foundations of community-engaged learning
  • reflective writing assignments and assessment
  • equity and ethics in community-engaged learning
  • asset-based community development
  • community-based and participatory action research

Once you have successfully completed the seminar and project, you will receive 4 Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) credits from the School of Graduate Studies, as well as Co-Curricular Record recognition.

Program registration

The deadline to apply for the 2020-2021 Community-Engaged Learning Seminar is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020.

To apply, complete the Community-Engaged Learning Seminar Application Form.

Successful applicants will be notified by May 11, 2020.

Considerations & exceptions

Read about projects from previous years.

Community Arts Programming

Centre for Community Learning and Development

The students who are placed with this project will be working to support CCL&D’s community arts programming, which involves community arts programs for residents, community gallery space, a series of artist interviews and creative cultural arts pop-up events in the community. This opportunity will be collaborative, creative and social justice-oriented. Student responsibilities and tasks will include organizing, programming and promoting community arts events, contributing to grant-writing to support community arts programs, and contributing new ideas and effort to the creation, renewal or continuation of CCL&D’s community arts initiatives.

Capacity Building For Grassroots Youth-Led Initiatives

For Youth Initiative

Each student placed with FYI will be matched to one grassroots youth-led initiative in order to provide mentorship, support and capacity-building opportunities to the initiative’s leaders. The youth-led initiatives/organizations will articulate their needs, priorities and goals and placed students will share their related expertise and skills with the youth. The placed students are likely to be supporting project management implementation in different communities, which might include some administrative support, workshop facilitation or assistance around outreach.

​Social and Economic Development Initiatives

Scadding Court Community Centre

Scadding Court will meet with students at the outset of the learning opportunity to match students to an initiative that requires assistance and that matches their interest. Students will have the opportunity to engage in projects within the continuum of programs, supports and services that Scadding Court Community Centre offers, including social development through children, youth seniors and family programming, as well as the depth of economic development through micro-entrepreneurship opportunities provided through Business Out of the Box, Scadding Court Urban Kitchen, Scadding Court Urban Markets and other emerging initiatives. All of Scadding Court’s work involves both a micro and macro perspective to ensure that local needs are met while structural, systemic challenges are addressed. Students will have the opportunity to conduct academic and community-based research to further develop one of these programs and/or initiatives.

​“Theory of Change” Program Reviews

St. Stephen’s Community House

The project would consist of assisting SSCH to gather data for the ‘Theory of Change’ program reviews. The organization undertook program reviews from a population needs perspective rather than a program evaluation perspective. Students would be required to complete literature reviews / data gathering / interviews and focus groups / mapping of participants and services / neighbourhood analysis based on census data for our upcoming reviews. Students can participate with staff in forming our theory of change at a series of workshops and then gathering data to support long-range planning. For example, in our theory of change for children we expect that an outcome we desire for disadvantaged children is to be ready for school (kindergarten) and we need to review literature and find measurable indicators on school-readiness that we can apply in our work.

​Knowledge Mobilization Initiatives

Toronto Youth Food Policy Council 

Students will be working to support the activities of the Food By Ward initiative, which is led in partnership with the Toronto Food Policy Council, under the Toronto Food Strategy Team. Students will be helping to analyze and identify the best ways to share and disseminate data collected through this project into communities. They will also be helping to systematically list and assess the opportunities to implement the Food By Ward resource guide into communities, improving community access as part of a broader strategy to address food security and equity issues.

​Resident Consultation

The Children’s Book Bank

This project involves consulting residents in order to better understand barriers to use of The Children's Book Bank. Though Toronto is cited as having one of the best educated populations, child poverty in the city rates are high, currently hovering at nearly 40%. We know that strong literacy skills are a predictor of employment success and active civic engagement. At its storefront and through its community partnerships, the Children's Book Bank provides over 5,000 free books per month to families and their children in low income communities throughout the city.  That said, one of our organizational goals is to increase visits to our storefront, located on 350 Berkeley Street, so that more caregivers and their children access the safe and enjoyable reading environment that's been created for them. We would like students to conduct surveys in the surrounding neighborhoods to understand better if people in these communities have heard of the Book Bank and have visited our storefront to take advantage of our literacy activities. And if they haven't why not? These surveys could be done at street level or in community, neighborhood or health centres in the surrounding areas.

Contact us

If you have questions or want more information, contact Catie Thompson at