Ethics in Community Development Webinar - Co-Editors' Presentation
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Ethics in Community Development Webinar - Co-Editors' Presentation

Ethics in Community Development Special Issue

The Community Development Journal and the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University (UK) held a webinar on 14th February 2023 to launch a special issue of the journal on "Ethics in Community Development".

This recorded presentation by the co-editors, Sarah Banks (Durham University, UK), Pradeep Narayanan (Praxis, India) and Lynda Shevellar (University of Queensland, Australia), discusses the importance of ethics in community development at micro, meso and macro levels. It makes reference to the challenging themes of some of the 11 articles in the special issue, ranging from respecting local norms while tackling conflict in the Lake Chad region, to dilemmas facing community-based practitioners in India, analysing neighbourhood opposition to people with disabilities in Lithuania, and developing community-based ethical contracts in the UK.

CDJ OUP Website:



Ethical Issues in Community Development - Special Issue Event, 14th February 2023

An online event organised by the Community Development Journal with the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University 

Tuesday 14th February, 2023, 9.00 – 10.30 UTC/GMT

The Community Development Journal and Centre for Social Justice and Community Action are pleased to announce an online event to be held on Zoom to launch a special issue of the journal on ‘ethical issues in community development’.

The event will be introduced by special issue co-editors, Sarah Banks (Durham University, UK), Pradeep Narayanan (Praxis, India) and Lynda Shevellar (University of Queensland, Australia). Many of the contributors of the 11 articles will be present, highlighting some of the ethical challenges in community development around the world - from respecting local norms while tackling conflict in the Lake Chad region, to analysing neighbourhood opposition to people with disabilities in Lithuania, and developing community-based ethical contracts in the UK. We will discuss controversial and provocative questions about ethics, politics, power and colonisation in break out groups facilitated by the special issue contributors.

Please register using the link below and circulate details to your networks and colleagues.

Ethical issues in community development Tickets, Tue 14 Feb 2023 at 09:00 | Eventbrite

Art Activism for an Anti-Colonial Future

To mark the publication of his book, Art Activism for an Anti-Colonial Future (SUNY Press), Carlos Garrido Castellano sat down with Helen Carey, director of Fire Station Artists’ Studios in Dublin, to explore some of its themes. Among the topics they reflected upon were the dilemmas associated with the mainstreaming of socially engaged art, socially engaged art as a global phenomenon with different genealogies that defy measurement or easy categorization, the potential for art to be both controlling and transformative, and most of all, the need to understand arts activism as a practice that has long been embedded within anti-colonial praxis.

Audio Version

Art Activism for an Anti-Colonial Future - SUNY Press

Art Activism for an Anti-Colonial Future - Project MUSE (eBook)

Fire Station Artists' Studios

CDJ Editorial Assistant: Call for Applicants

The Community Development Journal (CDJ) is seeking a new part-time Editorial Assistant to support us in the production and promotion of the journal.

This is an hourly-paid role for a self-employed individual. It would be ideal for community practitioners/activists and/or postgraduate/postdoctoral researchers, and will mostly consist of remote-working. The role will be available from August 2022, with the editorial assistant initially contracted for a two-year period.

No previous experience of journal management is required. Training will be provided as necessary.

Essential and Desirable Qualities

We are looking for someone with the following qualities:
• Excellent attention to detail (Essential)
• Excellent English language and grammar skills (Essential)
• Highly organised (Essential)
• Friendly correspondence style (Essential)
• Commitment to social justice, diversity, and environmental sustainability (Essential)
• Familiarity with editorial/publication processes (Desirable)
• Familiarity with the field of community development (Desirable)

Roles and Responsibilities

Working with the Editor(s) to assist in their duties (excluding making decisions on articles):
• Provide administrative oversight to Editor(s) in operation of ScholarOne Manuscripts
• Meet regularly with Editor(s) to discuss the work of the Editorial Team
• Weekly check-in on progress of reviews on ScholarOne Manuscripts, progressing articles through the system
• Prepare articles for double-blind peer review, ensuring that they are appropriately anonymised and liaising with authors where relevant
• If appropriate, support the Editor(s) with the selection of reviewers for articles
• Act as a point of contact for authors and reviewers
• Liaising with authors and the Digital Domain Team on publication of articles in order to aid promotion and dissemination
• Attend meetings as requested, such as with the CDJ Board and Exec
• Other tasks, to be negotiated on an ad-hoc basis. For example, printing or scanning materials, proofreading, support in plagiarism investigations, training colleagues.

Key Dates

Deadline for applications: 5pm on 3rd July 2022.
Interviews will be held online: w/c 18th July 2022.
Work to commence as soon as possible, ideally in August 2022

Full role and job description: CDJ Editorial Assistant Role Specification

Call For Papers - Community Development and Health Equity

Special issue of the Community Development Journal

Special issue editors:
Thara Raj, UK
Jennie Popay, Lancaster University, UK
Rebecca Mead, Lancaster University, UK
Aylish MacKenzie, UK

Scope, relevance and significance of the proposed theme:
Around the world inequalities in life expectancy, in chronic conditions and in wellbeing are widening. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these inequalities more visible and exacerbated them. In all countries, actions by communities of interest and place have been central to the pandemic response. In the future community development and/or empowerment approaches have a key role to play in supporting more effective community action to ensure that the recovery process addresses the social inequalities driving health inequalities. However, if these benefits are to be maximised the theory and praxis of contemporary community development and empowerment approaches in the health field need to be opened up to challenge and debate.

The WHO’s commission on social determinants of health, contributed to a hugely influential international public health research and practice movement for greater health equity. Community approaches are prominent in this movement, but they are dominated by an assets-based model that is increasingly restricted to an inward gaze on community psychosocial capacities and proximal neighbourhood conditions. Recovery from COVID-19 will continue unequally across the globe, following the same fault lines that create and sustain existing inequities in health outcomes, unless the recovery process reduces social inequalities. If community development is to contribute to this we need to utilise a more radical body of knowledge and practice. This might include drawing on approaches from beyond the community development field that incorporate related forms of community action, social participation, empowerment and activism.

When reflecting on the pandemic, we can critique the missed opportunity for an inclusive community development approach to decision-making which could have lessened the wider impacts of COVID-19. It has been commonly recognised that the crisis management approach has led to severe decline in mental, social and, physical health and we need to explore how communities of interest and/or place can begin to heal. This special issue intends to interrogate how in the future as countries recover from the pandemic community development and related approaches can contribute to greater social and health equity by involving communities in the decisions that affect their lives.

The goal of this special issue of the Community Development Journal is therefore to bring together contributions from researchers and practitioners from around the world exploring the potential for community development and similar approaches to achieving greater health equity. Contributions can focus on theory and/or practice grounded in community based approaches that foreground an outward gaze on political and social transformation for greater social and health equity.

We seek submissions of papers that are critical in nature and which can demonstrate learning that can be applied across different geographies locally, nationally and internationally. Papers do not need to be about Covid-19. Papers can be theoretical and/or empirical and should present original work that has not previously been published. Papers with case studies are welcome.

A focus on the structural inequalities that drive health inequalities will be central to all contribution. Topics that could be covered include (but are not limited to):
- Power and community development
- Radical assets-based approaches to community development
- Community approaches in contemporary policy
- Co-production, alliances, coalitions and partnerships
- Ethical considerations
- Critique of lifestyle-based approaches within community development

Potential contributors should send an abstract of up to 500 words with a title, an outline of the rationale, scope and content of the article to arnithararaj [AT] yahoo [DOT] com by 26th May 2022 with the subject heading CDJSpecialIssue23.

The name of the author(s) should be supplied, including full contact details.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Special Issue team, and potential contributors notified by 30 June 2022.

Full articles
Shortlisted authors will be invited to submit their first full version by 30th November 2022. Submissions should follow the journal’s style guidelines, which can be found here:

If your abstract is shortlisted, this does not guarantee publication of the article in the special issue. Submissions will be refereed in the usual way, which means some may be rejected and some may require revisions. We will endeavour to place all accepted articles in the special issue, but if this is full, then some articles may be placed in another issue of the journal. Decision for inclusion will fall to the editors of this special issue. Translation into English of the manuscript should be taken care of by the author.

Papers should be between 5,000 and 7,000 words and should not exceed 7,000 words.

Time Scale:
26th May 2022: 500 word abstract/proposal outline due
30th June 2022: Abstracts reviewed and potential authors notified
30th November 2022: First full version of paper to be submitted
1st December 2022 to 28th April 2023: Review process
Final publication – TBC

Territorial Stigmatisation In Theory and Practice

Themed Section: Territorial Stigmatisation in Theory and Practice, and its Implications for Community Development

Volume 56, Issue 2 of the CDJ includes our fourth ‘Themed Section’, and it focuses on ‘Territorial Stigmatisation’. ‘Themed Sections’ provide readers with an entrée to evolving fields of study and highlight the ‘state of the art’ with respect to the associated academic research and theory.  As a way of extending the discussion about ‘Territorial Stigmatisation’, we are publishing these online interviews with authors who have contributed to the ‘Themed Section’.  These recorded conversations provide viewers with an opportunity to meet the authors and to get a flavour of the articles.  Please feel welcome to link back to the articles themselves.

#1 CDJ – Online Interviews – Territorial Stigmatisation Rasmus Birk & Mia Fallov

Rasmus H Birk and Mia Arp Fallov talk with Rosie Meade about the content of their article, about Denmark’s infamous ‘Ghetto List’ and about the interstitiality or ‘in-betweenness’ of community work in Denmark and its place within the wider architecture of the welfare state.

Their article is available at: Between a rock and a hard place: State-led territorial stigmatization, informal care practices and the interstitiality of local community workers in Denmark

#1 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Rasmus Birk & Mia Fallov Audio Version

#2 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation – Alice Butler-Warke

Alice Butler-Warke talks with Rosie Meade about her research on Toxteth, Wacquant’s influence on scholarship about territorial stigma and the value of the concept ‘place based stigma’ for acknowledging the temporal and spatial diversity of stigma.

Her article is available at: There’s a time and a place: temporal aspects of place-based stigma

#2 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Alice Butler-Warke Audio Version

#3 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Marcelo Lopes de Souza

Marcelo Lopes de Souza in conversation with Rosie Meade about the concept of the ‘sacrifice zones’; the significance of the conjunction ‘environment–territory–place’ for understanding the distinct and interrelated dimensions of spatialized inequality and exploitation; the intersections of state and capital, and their implications for community development; the status of community development in Brazil; and some reflections on Paulo Freire’s legacy.

His article is available here: ‘Sacrifice zone’: The environment–territory–place of disposable lives

#3 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Marcelo Lopes de Souza Audio Version

#4 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Martin Power

Martin Power in dialogue with Rosie Meade about the research he and his colleagues have undertaken in Limerick city; the value of ‘territorial stigmatisation’ as a concept and what it reveals about symbolic power; the impacts of territorial stigma on working class communities in Limerick; the diverse forms that community resistance takes; and the limits and possibilities of resistance in contexts of structural inequality and oppression.

Martin co-authored his CDJ article with his University of Limerick colleagues, Amanda Haynes and Eoin Devereux. It can be accessed from here: Indelible stain: territorial stigmatization and the limits of resistance

#4 CDJ Online Interviews Territorial Stigmatisation Martin Power Audio Version

CDJ Thinkery 2019 - Community Organising for Social Action

Discussions at the CDJ Thinkery 2019 in London, UK

The CDJ held a Thinkery on the theme of "Community Organising for Social Action" in London, UK in from the 3rd - 5th July, 2019. This event was attended by 57 academics, practitioners and researchers to examine the commonalities around community practice, challenge ourselves through critical debate, and build alliances at a local, national and international level to support collective action and movement building in the field.

This page serves as a hub for the reports generated post event, resources from the event, and multimedia outputs from the Thinkery to disseminate our main findings.

Community Organising for Social Action: Report on Discussions and Critical Debates from the CDJ Thinkery, 3-5 July 2019

Reflections on ‘community organizing for social action’, CDJ Thinkery, July 2019

CDJ Thinkery 2019 Presentations Playlist (YouTube)

Discussions and reflections video from the CDJ Thinkery 2019

Prioritising Competing M&E Needs and Demands in an Adaptive Programme: 7 Takeaways

In this blog post, Gloria Sikustahili, Julie Adkins, Japhet Makongo & Simon Milligan discuss seven key lessons about effective monitoring and evaluation from their experiences of implementing a 'iterative programming and adaptive management' approach in the Institutions for Inclusive Development programme in Tanzania.

We’ve all been there. We’ve drowned in the weight of programme documentation; the need to capture everything, to report everything, to be seen to be held accountable for all our actions or inactions. Yet on other occasions we’ve all sighed with exasperation that the programme we’re tasked with supporting has very little to help us understand what’s happened along the way, and why decisions were made.

So how do we strike the right balance? Whose needs are we meeting? And how do we better negotiate and prioritise the needs of different documentation users?

The DFID and IrishAid-funded Institutions for Inclusive Development programme in Tanzania – a “test tube baby” on iterative programming and adaptive management – explores new ways of tackling wicked problems in a variety of areas, such as solid waste management, inclusive education, and menstrual health. As a programme designed to be agile and opportunistic, it needs to have fast feedback loops so that staff and partners can make informed decisions about if and how to adjust strategy and tactics during implementation. It must also be accountable for its performance and generate lessons about how change occurs.

So, as the programme enters its final months of implementation, what lessons have we learned about M&E in an adaptive programme in terms of what, when and how to document and for whom? Here are our seven takeaways:

  1. All parties benefit when genuine attempt is made to understand not only the programme theory of change, but also the basis for certain actions during the adaptive process. It pays to build rapport with donors and reviewers; to understand their interests, needs, concerns and motivations. While this might not necessarily lead to fewer requests, it can lead to more streamlined responses; responses that ‘tick the box’ first time around. Annual reviewers and mid-term evaluators also need to understand the interests of implementers and the programme managers rather than focusing only on donors’ interests. This means reviewers should take time to understand the programme’s journey to date and future trajectory, while balancing the interests of both parties is a necessity. All too often we, as human beings, find ourselves believing certain things of our partners, be they donors, reviewers, implementers, partner agencies or others. We can project our own insecurities, values, beliefs, assumptions and prejudices onto others, and can react negatively when faced with “another silly demand for yet more documentation”.
  1. Utilisation is key and this needs to shape decision-making about what and when to document, and for whom. Documentation efforts should be clear-headed and purposeful. In much the same way as Michael Patton champions Utilization-Focused Evaluation, programmes should adopt a similar principle, i.e. that the need to document should be judged on its likely usefulness to its intended users, including donors, reviewers, managers, implementers and partners. Without agreement and clarity about purpose, intended user and relative costs, programmes end up documenting for documentation’s sake. But with actions come consequences. Excessive time spent ‘feeding the beast’ is time spent away from working towards an intended outcome.
  1. Documentation needs and demands need to be negotiated and balanced: there is an ever-present risk of prioritising the documentation needs of funders and reviewers at the expense of managers and implementers, and doing so can be counterproductive. Don’t get us wrong: we aren’t saying there is a binary choice between the needs of funders and reviewers on the one hand, and implementers on the other. Yet, the reality is that those working hands on, at the front line, make decisions in real time and do so against a backdrop of uncertainty and incomplete or implicit understanding. By contrast, managers and implementers are often involved in slower, more structured processes. This meeting of two related, yet different realities creates an environment in which different needs, expectations and demands must be successfully navigated, even negotiated. Senior managers, such as team leaders, often find themselves acting as a buffer or intermediary with the donor. Inevitably, unclear, excessive or competing expectations about what must be documented creates uncertainty, bias and inefficiencies. All information users – donors, reviewers, implementers and partners – should think through what must be documented and reported, from what might be documented and reported and from what they would like to see rather than love to see documented and reported in an ideal world (thanks to outcome mapping for this prompt). As a general rule of thumb, key information should be synthesised and summarised as headlines. Brevity in documentation forces clarity of thought and aids the production of ‘formal’ reporting (annual & semi-annual reports, case studies, and even blogs!) when required.
  1. To aid programme performance, donors must make choices and recognise the consequences of their signals. We acknowledge that all parties (funders, managers and implementers) require a certain level of documentation for accountability and sense-making purposes. OK, let’s get the “Yeah, obviously” observation out of the way first. Programmes have many constituencies or stakeholders, not least the donor agencies, and each party have their own needs and interests in documentation. Of course, where programmes are under-performing, close scrutiny is expected and necessary. However, staff within donor agencies hold positions of power. General queries or requests for information can be construed as demands – demands that often require the time-consuming compilation of documentation without a clear rationale and can result in airbrushed content which overlooks the messy realities. Unfiltered lists of questions, requests and comments from a variety of donor staff to a report, for example, can tie up implementers as they seek to make sense of, justify and explain, resulting in a ping pong to and fro which might have better resolved out over a cup of coffee. A confident programme with confident, capable and experienced staff can push back but this takes time and trust, and neither come over night. 
  1. Reflection and documentation are two related, important, yet different things. I4ID, like many agile programmes, is built on experimentation. Staff value reflection but the process must be shaped by a desire to improve performance. To borrow from Graham Teskey’s recent blog post, purposeful reflection allows implementers to reach a decision about specific workstreams (i.e. this is what we are going to do from here); which  means that implementers will necessarily prioritise capture of what they need to know to move forward, building on tacit knowledge and shared understanding. And, that reflection-and-capture need not translate to extensive documentation. Yet, challenges arise when donors and reviewers seek to make sense of often messy realities, a number of months after the event. This can lead to a situation in which events and decisions are fully documented not because it is valuable to implementation but to cover off possible future need and demands. The answer? Understanding, keeping line of sight on what matters, and accepting ‘good enough’. The most successful staff capture-and-reflection platforms are those founded on real-time discussion and action. Early efforts in I4ID to document key events on a weekly basis using a Word-based template and again on a monthly basis using an Excel-based dashboard stagnated within 12 months. By contrast, those platforms that thrived at I4ID - the Monday morning meetings, staff WhatsApp groups, and the Quarterly Strategic Reviews by the programme team, donors and some invitees – were founded on real-time exchange of reflections and ideas. This suggests that staff respond more favourably to live, interactive platforms, not an impersonal capture and storage. These platforms should be well organised and managed to avoid biases and defensiveness.
  1. Synthesis occurs most readily where discussions are well structured. Discussion is great, yet it must lead to something. For that to occur, use should be made of three key questions in key events (e.g. weekly meetings, strategic reviews) and associated minutes: What? So what? Now what? For example, what has happened in the operating environment over the last month, what programme effects have we seen, and what lessons have we learned about how change occurs? So, what does that mean for us and specifically, if/how our programme can best support the reform agenda? Now what should be done and by whom, not least before we next meet? Objective discussions require good facilitation to avoid bias and defensive reactions. 
  1. Donors should consolidate and localise oversight functions wherever possible. The decision to have multiple levels of oversight – the donor agencies themselves, the annual reviewers appointed by the donors to verify the claims made by a programme, and the external evaluators appointed by the donors to capture lessons identified by the programme – creates a living organism that has many needs and expectations. Sometimes these are aligned, other times not. So, it is right to ask, at what point can oversight functions (e.g. an external Results and Challenge team that produces annual reviews, and a separate external Mid-Term and End-of-Programme-Evaluation team) be consolidated or streamlined? Donors should ensure that local institutions are included in the evaluation and reviewer teams to get local perspective on the process and results, build capacity to local stakeholders and promote adaptive programming locally.   

The Community Development Potential: Connecting Ourselves with Wider Change

Jim Cowan writes for the CDJ Blog on his latest book, The Britain Potential, and how community development thinking can adapt to incorporate wider concepts from social and political thinking.

In my book The Britain Potential, I draw on a number of analytical and practice frameworks from writers outside community development whose ideas are drawn from social psychology, political philosophy, and social constructionism. I have found such ideas can also help bring out, what I have called `the community development potential`. Community development, with its decades long track record of integrity, is all the stronger, in my opinion, for critically embodying frameworks that can connect it with much wider change. Let me explain.

For over 40 years I have worked with people living on housing estates, families seeking support, black and white people working together with shared anti-racist aims, and people with disabilities.

Doing community development every day, decade after decade, in these communities, I saw how the country works from the ground up, through the eyes of all the people I was working with. I knew the work I was doing with communities was always saying something much bigger. But how to find that bigger story? And if you find it, does it then shed any new light on community development? Does it help bring out `the community development potential`?

When I retired in 2012 I finally had the time to write the book that had been sitting inside me for years. People kept asking me what I was writing. I found myself replying, “Britain is a country with huge potential, but it is not realising that potential by a long way.” Not one person disagreed! Now that the book has been published, still no one has disagreed. Britain`s potential has definitely been held back. Community development is very much part of the process ofrealising this potential (along with many other interventions, initiatives and developments).

By exploring the idea of `potential`, I found a framework that does, I think, shed new light on community development. It comes from the work of Ken Wilber, a writer who has drawn from psychology, other academic disciples, as well as many strands of spiritual practice and writing outside academia. He has colour coded the stages of consciousness that he regards humanity as having been through and is moving into.  He is not talking about the actual mechanics whereby brain matter generates consciousness (the stuff of cognitive and neuro science). Rather he is talking about what colours and creates very specific states of awareness of oneself in relation to the world. In his words:

…there are indeed higher and lower (or more or less evolved and aware) structures of consciousness, and we, as individuals and societies, can grow to higher levels in progressive stages or waves of development.”

In my opinion, these colour coded form of consciousness offer those training community workers, as well as workers in the field, a valuable tool. They can become part of the deeply reflexive, ongoing, continual effort at the 360 degree personal development and autonomy necessary to do the work professionally.

Here is a diagram of Wilber`s colour coded consciousnesses

Wilber`s amber consciousness is about ethnocentric and controlling rules, norms, and forms of leadership like organised religion or institutions. But historically these kinds of structures enabled effort on a large scale, often stable and enduring. From its initial concept there was something of the amber about the welfare state.

Orange defines the shift from medieval to enlightenment thinking. This is leadership based on reason aiming for universals. It is critical of dogma and is responsive to change. But it is a materialistic kind of rationality. Inner life is disconnected. Today this is very much the world of science, technology, business and the market thinking of government.

What Wilber calls green consciousness is a pluralistic, non-directive leadership very able to spot problems but not at all good at coming up with solutions. The search for consensus can be endless! Green has powered civil rights, environmental movements and feminism.

Wilber characterises this heady mix of amber, orange and green as very much powering an increasingly polarised public culture. What amber, orange and green have in common is that they think they are the right way to view the world.  He rates amber and orange as being in the majority in the population (maybe 65%) and green as `the leading edge` at around 25%.

A quantum leap on from these forms of consciousnesses is teal which is present in between 5-10% of the population and destined, he believes, (because of the limitations of the other consciousnesses), to be a future leading edge. Teal is ultra-humanistic leadership with strong holistic problem-solving capabilities. It takes deliberate ongoing personal effort to develop and sustain teal. That teal is real and operating in the world is evidenced in, for example the ground breaking research on organisations by Frederic Laloux, as well as my book (Cowan 2019).

To flesh this out in ways that start to shed new light on community development, I say this about teal coloured consciousness in my book:

“The ego is not in the driving seat. There is a quest for wholeness, bringing together the ego and deeper parts of the self. A more expansive, embracing self is there. Teal is not fearful and needing to control. Problems become challenges. How can we grow from engaging with this problem? There is a healthy development of self and concern and interest in others. Teals develop themselves inwardly, spiritually. But they are able to connect this with complex realities. Life is always teaching us about ourselves and the world.  Teal has thinking and rationality, teal has doing, and it also has being the person I can be. Teal will tap into all kinds of knowing from analytics to the wisdom to be found through emotion and intuition”.

This gives us another take on community development`s objective of empowering others to be in control. Unlike the other forms of consciousness, which think they are right, teal understands these other forms of consciousness and can work with them. It is a particularly subtle form of leadership which holds the space, for example, for community activists to take those early steps, and then more steps with more people and so on.

Jim Cowan`s book The Britain Potential is available via Via the website, subscribers can get the first chapter as a taster, which some university lecturers are beginning to use to run a project with students.


Wilber, K and others. (2008). Integral Life Practice. Integral Books. Pg 74

Laloux, F. (2014). Reinventing Organizations. Nelson Parker.

Cowan, J. (2019). The Britain Potential. Arena Books. 2019. Pg 27