The Doctoral Seminar on Community-Engaged Learning brings 25 doctoral students from across the University together remotely to discuss community-engaged learning as a form of community-university engagement.
Through community engagement, doctoral students who are preparing for faculty positions can enrich their teaching, research and professional service skills. Doctoral students who plan to pursue non-academic positions can develop new skills and networks.
In addition to monthly seminar meetings, a key component of the program will involve a collaborative research project with fellow seminar participants and a community partner.
The program will be facilitated by staff at the Centre for Community Partnerships and will feature faculty and community partners as guest speakers.
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
Seminar participants are expected to:
- Attend all 7 seminars remotely and complete all required readings
- Work remotely in teams on a collaborative project with a community organization
- Complete two written reflections (750 words each) and one draft syllabus
There may also be an optional opportunity to mentor undergraduates who are working on community-engaged learning projects over the February reading week.
In 7 seminars over the course of the academic year, a multidisciplinary cohort of students will discuss the scholarship of community-engaged learning, reflect on their experiences in the field and benefit from professional development activities to enhance their knowledge and practice.
Research project details
Students will be working in interdisciplinary teams of 3 or 4 on a research project proposed by a community partner. This project will require 30-40 hours of work. Students will rank which project they would like to contribute to once the seminar has begun. Participants will learn experientially about project management, community-engaged research methodologies, and knowledge translation and exchange.
Apply to join the seminar by June 30, 2021.
Successful applicants will be notified by August 3.
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.
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 neighbourhoods 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, neighbourhood or health centres in the surrounding areas.