Community-Engaged Learning Seminar for Doctoral Students

The Community-Engaged Learning Seminar for doctoral students will bring together 25 doctoral students across the University to discuss community-engaged learning as a form of community-university engagement. In addition to seminar meetings, a key component of the program will involve a collaborative project with fellow seminar participants and a community partner.

This program is open to all doctoral students at the University of Toronto interested in contributing to the efforts of a community organization and learning from their colleagues and community partners. Doctoral students preparing for faculty positions can 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 through community engagement.

If you would like to be added to our communications list for future community-engaged learning programming for graduate students please email Susanne Burkhardt.

The Centre for Community Partnerships provides meaningful opportunities for community engagement for students at the University of Toronto in order to both contribute to community initiatives and provide opportunities for student learning outside the classroom. Additional information about the Centre and its programs is available at

Past projects:  See a selection of the projects from previous years


Seminar Details What you will learn
Requirements Expectations of participants
Seminar Schedule Dates and times
Recognition GPS and CCR credits upon completion
Qualifications Who is eligible to apply
Application Registration is now closed
Contact Contact Jennifer Esmail at with any questions
Project Examples Examples of projects from previous years

Seminar Details

In 7 seminars over the course of the academic year, a multidisciplinary cohort of students will discuss the literature of community-engaged learning and their experiences in the field, undertake reflective exercises, and benefit from professional development activities to enhance their knowledge and practice in the following areas:

  • 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 7 seminars and complete all required readings.
  • Work in teams of three or four on a collaborative project with a community organization. (This project is intended to 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.)
  • Complete two written reflections (750 words each) and one draft syllabus.

Seminar Schedule

Seminar sessions will be held once a month on Tuesdays from 4 - 6 p.m.

  • September 19, 2017
  • October 17, 2017
  • November 14, 2017
  • January 16, 2018
  • February 13, 2018
  • March 13, 2018
  • April 10, 2018

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 the seminar and project have been successfully completed, seminar participants will receive 4 Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) credits from the School of Graduate Studies, as well as a credit on their Co-Curricular Record (


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 (eg. practicum or internship) are especially encouraged to apply.


Registration is now closed.


Please contact Susanne Burkhardt, Coordinator of Academic Initiatives at the Centre for Community Partnerships with any questions. 

A selection of 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.

Evaluation of the “Access Model of Care”

Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services

Access Alliance adopts the “Access Model of Care” as its foundation for program planning and service delivery and is currently planning to evaluate this model for its efficiency and impact. The students working on this project will contribute to the evaluation of the Access Model, and depending on student interest and ability, will contribute to areas including: literature reviews and environmental scans, designing an evaluation framework, collecting information from stakeholders, and preparing and presenting an evaluation report.

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 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.