Introducing the BA in Community Development

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  • Overview

    The Bachelor of Arts in Community Development [BACD] offered by NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community, in partnership with Providence University College is designed to prepare the student for effective work in Indigenous communities while honouring the values, traditions, and strengths inherent within the individual community. The student who chooses this program is seeking knowledge and skills which will contribute to improving the social, spiritual, political and economic welfare of Indigenous people and the structures that support them.

    The program focuses on the concept of a mutual learning exchange between cultures within and beyond North America. The program is multidisciplinary and strives to develop each co-learner’s heart and mind through the disciplines of Biblical studies (and emerging theologies), social theories, anthropology, missiology, church history, contextualized leadership, and spiritual formation. The program is holistic in scope, seeking to create opportunities for co-learners to gain both knowledge and experience appropriate for the 21st Century. This program maintains the heart of Providence’s mission, the study of the Bible at the core of each academic program.

    NAIITS faculty in partnership with Providence faculty is dedicated to equipping men and women for meaningful engagement within cultural diversity, including global and local cultural contexts. The majority of instructors for the BACD are Indigenous North Americans.

    This unique program provides teaching from an Indigenous worldview as communicated through followers of Jesus, employing an asset-based development model that emphasizes the strength of an individual community. Students, as co-learners, will be immersed in Indigenous perspectives, alternative epistemologies and pedagogies (anthrogogies) designed to assist co-learners in the creation of informed paradigms beyond traditional Western models. Graduates will serve in a variety of ministry roles such as:

    • Anthropologically informed community leaders
    • Trained leaders capable of facilitating sustainable community transformation
    • Biblically informed church leaders in the multi-ethnic/inter-cultural church
    • Inter-cultural ministry personnel
    • Inter-cultural Parachurch leaders
    • Overseas ministry personnel
    • Camp or university campus spiritual directors
  • Details

    The majority of faculty for the program will be provided through NAIITS with Providence Faculty augmenting the program in selected areas. Faculty members are all highly skilled people with both practical and academic prowess with recognized degrees in relevant disciplines. Faculty members have experience as:

    • Anthropologically informed community leaders
    • Specialized practitioners capable of facilitating sustainable change within community contexts and training others to do likewise
    • Biblically informed instructors as graduates of accredited universities and seminaries
    • Church and Parachurch leaders in a variety of denominations
    • A wide range of overseas ministry

    The Curriculum Philosophy

    Providence University College and NAIITS have pursued a relationship with one another as a means of supporting the education of Indigenous peoples in the area of theological education and development. After years of work and planning by

    Native leaders experienced in theology and mission, NAIITS has produced an adult-focused methodology that allows NAIITS, together with Providence, to more effectively serve Indigenous North Americans and other Indigenous peoples admitted to the program.

    While the BACD program has been designed with an Indigenous North American student population in mind, students from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply. In fact, our targets for the degree are as follows: Indigenous North American; other Indigenous peoples; non-Indigenous people working in Indigenous contexts; and students interested in a non-Western approach to education and community development in particular. If you desire an education filled with non-western constructs and learning experiences, this program may be right for you. Admission to the program is determined on a case-by-case basis.

    Program Objectives

    The overall aim of the program is to enable students to:

    • Mature into God's fullness
    • Develop habits and authentic disciplines for thinking and living in Christ's presence
    • Gain a critical and constructive understanding of the anthropological, missiological, spiritual, biblical and theological foundations of the Faith
    • Understand the mission of Creator in the world and one’s place in it
    • Understand Self and relate more effectively to others created in God's image and called into diverse community and ministry
    • Function as leaders who are being transformed themselves, and are therefore healthy and effective instruments of transformation.

    BACD Delivery

    Formal campus residency is not required for this program. The degree is offered in a flexible cohort group experience with a hybrid education format of online and face-to-face learning. Cohort students come to an approved site (held each year in conjunction with the NAIITS Symposium) for a two to three week face-to-face intensive in the summer, with online courses in the fall and spring over a period of three years. A learning community is created for the transfer of information, exchange of ideas, critical-thinking development through discussions and papers posted and read online, and acquired wisdom through sharing professional experiences
  • Course Framework
    Biblical Studies (15 credits)

    OT 501 Hebrew Scripture Foundations      
    Knowing how the Scriptures speak about community, how they present and promote particular values of community, and what examples of community appear in the various genres of the Scriptures is critical to any program focused through the lens of a biblically informed worldview. This course will seek to discover the ways in which community is presented in the Hebrew Scriptures beginning with its expression in the Trinity of God, then uncovering its expressions and ideas evident within several genres of the Scripture.

    NT 501 New Testament Foundations      
    Continuing the exploration of the biblical values and praxis of community, this course will seek to understand how community is presented in the New Testament Scriptures with a particular focus on how community is both similarly and differently referenced in the pages of the New Testament as compared with the Hebrew Scriptures. Finally, the course will seek to understand the nature of community in the early church and its implications, if any, on our thinking about the holistic development of community within the Kingdom of God.

    OT 502 Hebrew Scripture Community Models
    A general introduction to the historical, sociological and theological context in which the Hebrew Scriptures came into existence, this course will provide the student with an understanding of the major emphases of the texts with a focus on their presentation of the nature of community models and concepts. In addition, the student will be introduced to themes of community life and praxis in the Hebrew Scriptures that find parallels in what has been coined by some as the “Old Testament of Native North America.” The course will use community understandings, models and paradigms as a basis for comparison.

    NT 502 New Testament Community Models  
    While familiarizing students with the content and structure, distinctive theology, and introductory matters (e.g., date, authorship, occasion) of the four NT gospels and the book of Acts, this course will focus its energies on exploring the nature of community as described in the NT. Attention will be given to understandings of community present within the text and its historical context. The course provides students with a solid grasp of the NT canon with attention given to understanding the nature of community, its transitions and changes from a strictly Hebraic construct as found within the Jewish community, and projections made for its future development.

    ID 640 Studies in a Holistic Gospel
    The environment in which the Christian community exists has changed radically in the past number of decades – physically, socially, economically, politically, and culturally. The comfortable dualism between body and soul by which much of Christian mission operated in the past (saving souls only) has not only proven inadequate but damaging, as in the case of many First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. This course allows participants to explore the old and develop the new in the world of Christian mission. The courses focus through the lens of hands-on discovery and experience – both instructor and student – to provide a more robust understanding of the nature of the gospel.

    Theological Studies (6 credits)

    TH 501 Christian Faith and the Theology of Community
    This course is an exercise in theological reflection ordered around the concept of community. It will examine the Christian doctrines of creation, fall, and redemption identifying God’s ultimate purpose in the world as being the establishment of community. The course has two major foci. It examines, on the one hand, the work of the triune God in creation, preservation, and redemption; and on the other, the place of humanity within the created and redeemed order. Other issues that are examined include: evil and the fall in their spiritual and cosmic dimensions, ecology and the cultural mandate, etc. As with TH 601, the course will include understandings of the nature and origins of community as portrayed within Indigenous myth, cosmologies and spiritual perspectives.

    TH 711 Christianity, Culture and Community
    This course is a critical examination of different attitudes toward culture and community adopted by the Church throughout history. The texts of representative theorists of culture and community such as Richard Niebuhr, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Stanley Hauerwas, and Jacques Ellul are assessed in light of biblical patterns and the requirements of a postmodern paradigm. Practical questions such as the relationship between the sacred and the secular, the role of art, the place of work and leisure, and the significance of political engagement will receive particular attention in juxtaposition with Indigenous perspectives in each area. This course also seeks to develop an integrated model of God, humanity and culture focusing on current debates and their bearing on Christian mission and community.


    SH610 Ethics in Intercultural Context     
    An intercultural, contextual introduction to central issues in Christian ethics, with attention given to the way in which moral reflection interacts with philosophy and culture. The course explores biblical theological foundations for ethics, the role of Scripture and Jesus’ example in ethical formulation; and deals with major contemporary topics including gender, sexuality, marriage, euthanasia, war, bioethics, wealth and poverty.

    Community Engagement (Leadership and Ministry) (24 credits)

    MD 504 Theory and Praxis in Development (Global Mission Survey) – History and Method
    Our study will begin with a brief examination of historic relief and development theories, sighting in on a more careful examination of post WWII models and their evolution through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s toward the Transformational Development models of the 1990s and beyond. The continued emphasis on Modernization and Westernization in contemporary practice will create a frame around a discussion of alternate ideas for community health and well-being. While not intended as a strict comparative of methodology, the cost/benefit between asset and deficit based methods will emerge for the student as we examine the biblical and theological issues each raises when each is applied to human systems and communities.

    MD 507 Contextualized Leadership
    This course will engage the student in a variety of discussions on leadership – in the family, community, Indigenous church, and wider society. Special emphasis will be on exploring the praxis of decolonization and growing edge of re-traditionalization as a means of understanding contemporary Indigenous leadership models used in each of these social contexts. Contemporary understandings and tools will be employed to provide the student with a thorough grasp of the nature of culturally rooted leadership models.

    MD 508 Cross-cultural Discipleship
    The religious dimension of a culture provides its people with conceptions of reality and the means for maintaining the force and relevance of those conceptions. Features of a culture’s repertoire such as story, scripture, rites of passage, pilgrimages, worship traditions, social organizations, and other symbolic activities shape the worldview of its people. The cross-cultural study of religion examines the religious dimension of culture with a view to understanding its nature and function. The course assumes that religiousness is a universal aspect of human identity. It also assumes the tools and results of religious studies offer much to Christian discipling. Based on these assumptions, the course explores the relevance of some of the non-verbal forms typical of human religion for the process of discipling.

    ID 530 Cultures and Change
    No experience of Christianity has been more culturally damaging than that experienced by Indigenous peoples. Through process of decolonization and indigenization this course will examine how Indigenous people live a biblically informed Christian faith in the context of Indigenous cultures. Cultures and Change is designed to give perspectives and tools for interpreting and guiding a cultural system towards deep change. Insights from various disciplines, such as anthropology, social psychology, and organizational science, stimulate the exegesis of culture in fresh ways. Jesus as a change master in a complex cultural system is the model for guiding effective and lasting change.

    NA 501 Intercultural Communication
    This course explores the dynamics of cross-cultural communication with community issues as the instructional context. It presents communication theory in the light of both sociology and anthropology to indicate ways that cross-cultural communication can present theories of change and transformation with less cultural interference in message transmission. Using community transformation paradigms and concerns as the investigative framework, the course will assist students in becoming familiar with and capable of managing cross-cultural communication theory and methodologies in an effective way.

    ID 535 Asset-based Development I
    This course is an introduction to asset-based planning and design as a human and organizational capacity-building approach that seeks to locate, underscore, and emphasize, in a selective way, the life-giving forces and successes within an organization, group, or community. As the title implies, Level I is for those who are intrigued by a different way of dealing with life in communities and organizations, and would like to explore in an introductory fashion, the skills of community development facilitation at a basic depth for practitioners. Several tools used in asset-based planning and development will be carefully examined with a view to developing proficiency in both their theory and practice. Finally, each student will propose, design and implement a practical project using the tools of asset-based development.

    ID 635 Asset-based Development II
    Level II advances the participant’s skills so that they have good capacity in both understanding and implementation in various kinds of community need. This is the capacity builder level and is deigned to increase student competence in community and organizational facilitation and facilitation of community planning using asset-based tools. While also providing the basis for continued personal growth in asset-based skills, Level II also uses the practicum undertaken at the end of Level I to create the framework for certification with the NAIITS community of certified practitioners.

    SH 620 Creation and Transformation
    The centre of Christian theology is Jesus Christ who unites Creator and creation. This course, therefore, will focus on thinking through the scriptural and ecclesiastical traditions concerning the person and work of Christ in transforming creation. This will provide the basis for a discussion about the implication of Christology for the transformation of the creation community. Thus, the course will seek to engage the ideas represented by the councils, the creeds of past theologians, and then move to examine the theological praxis that resulted in a colonial and post-colonial context—all this in hopes of the learner developing a shared praxis based upon a renewed Indigenous creation-centered theology.

    Specialized Ministry Electives (12 Credits)

    ID 500 Perspectives from Cultural Anthropology
    Cultural Anthropology is the study of the immense variety in human cultures. In this class we will begin our journey together by traveling through some historical anthropological theory. There are important trajectories that anthropology has taken that have been helpful and hurtful, particularly to Indigenous peoples globally. However, as in all things cultural or otherwise, change will occur. Culture is not static, and neither is anthropology. It has grown and changed, it has interacted with other disciplines in an interdisciplinary manner, it has contributed to great heights of learning and great lows of oppression, and it has critiqued itself and learned from its mistakes. Although there is much more to learn via anthropology as a discipline, particularly when it comes to inviting other worldviews to contribute to the shaping of anthropological theory and practice, it has something important to offer us, both as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

    ID 501 Anthropology of Leadership
    This course will have students examine leadership, organizational and change theory and the skills required for leaders to lead organizations and communities in the context of changing demographics and increasing diversity. As societies become increasingly ‘globalized’ and diverse, there is significant provincial, national, and international awareness in organizations about the impact that this change has on leadership. This course will also introduce students to the historic and evolving concepts of and the relationship between diversity, culture and leadership. The emerging practice of diversity as central to leadership theory and practice, the holistic nature of diversity, social justice within a diverse society, and the role it has in contributing to effective and appropriate leadership in the midst of rapid change will be explored to gain an informed understanding.

    ID 520 Colonization and Decolonization
    This class will look at the critiques made by Indigenous and postcolonial scholars of the methodological approaches used in the humanities and social sciences for their complicity in colonialism. We will then look at attempts to “decolonize” methodology and construct Indigenous and postcolonial methodological approaches to society and community. The class will focus on methodological approaches in anthropology, sociology, literature, religious studies, and history. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own philosophical and methodological approaches to decolonization informed by the readings in the class.

    ID 600 Social Construction of Identity
    This course critically examines the social construction of ethnicity and identity within First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as well as the implications for broader community social responses to those identities. Students will study the myths and realities surrounding the development of racial, ethnic and cultural categories in North America; and learn how social, political, and economic forces have shaped the experiences of different ethnic groups. Students will also be introduced to the concepts of socialization, social interaction, identity formation and self-fashioning; the social construction of class, gender and race, age, deviance, and other social phenomena. This comparison will include an invitation for students to explore their own unique ethnic heritage.

    ID 530 Family and Social Systems
    Indigenous family contexts have dramatically changed over the course of the centuries since contact. Family systems—including parenting, intergenerational roles and relationships as well as governance and provision for need—have come under significant stress. Proposed remedies over the 20th and into the 21st centuries have attempted to accommodate what constituted traditional ways within often equally invasive new ways. This course examines the impact of cultural and social forces upon the family system including major systems theories, strategies, and techniques of engaging family and family relationship in the context of shifting dynamics and demographics. Issues of family and inter-generational conflict as well as the ethical considerations of intervention are also examined.

    ID 525 Christianity and Culture
    This course is an interdisciplinary exploration of the interpenetration of Christianity and the cultures in which it finds expression. As such it will combine aspects of biblical studies, theological discourse, cultural studies, and explore historical and contemporary models. The ultimate goal of the course is to have the student realize that Christianity in all its varieties will always exist within particular cultural grids—either intentionally or unintentionally—both embracing and reacting to various cultural influences, shaping and being shaped by the world it finds itself in. The student will be challenged to combine cultural exegesis and theological reflection both within and outside of the church and so contribute to the ongoing contextualization of the Christian faith.

    ID 510 Indigenous Survey
    This course provides the student with an opportunity to pursue an interest that they might have in a particular discipline related to indigenous peoples. It is a directed study with the final syllabus for reading and assignments negotiated between the student and the faculty member overseeing the course. The course is expected to expand the students depth and breadth of knowledge in the particular area selected, but is also expected to provide an opportunity for the student to integrate said knowledge within the overall program. Student will select one area:
    • Indigenous History
    • Indigenous Philosophy
    • Indigenous Religious Contexts

    Elective Studies (6 credits)

    MD 600 Indigenous Readings in Mission
    This course will introduce the contemporary Native North American (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) contexts of ministry and mission via several teaching paradigms including: worldview; concepts of spirituality; issues in culture and faith; re-traditionalization, and ministry as community development. Moving beyond the notion of multiculturalism, the course will engage these paradigms from an intercultural vantage point, offering a perspective framed by the historic issues characterizing colonial mission in Canada. This will include an introduction to the histories, cultures, religious beliefs and practices of Native North American peoples and the impact of colonization including evangelistic endeavours amongst them by various Christian denominations and missions.

    MD 610 Emerging Theologies in Global Context
    This course is an introduction to emergent and emerging theology. It is a focused effort to assess the nature of global theological influences and trends, with specific attention to ways in which local culture(s), philosophies, and context(s) impact theological development. The course will utilize a biblical-theological methodology as the exegetical fulcrum through which an analysis of these trends will be made and an understanding of their contribution to the growing body of theological work will be undertaken.

    NA 601 Narrative Theology
    Contemporary approaches to narrative theology within Western theological method – at least narrative biblical theology – are often still bound up in a study of the grammar and historicity of the text as opposed to a consideration of the nature of a collected narrative and its formational effect within a given community. Since storytelling/narrative is endemic to Indigenous community formation and understanding, this course will examine Indigenous storytelling method, content, genre, and collation with a view to understanding its importance in theology, formation of spiritual identity, and the continuity of community life. Of particular importance will be the application of Indigenous understandings of story to biblical theological development.

    SP 510 Spirituality: Behaviour and Being
    This course is an introduction to what has commonly been referred to as First Nations or Native spirituality. It will also serve as an introduction to the concepts of human spirituality in the context of the created order of God. The topic will be discussed from within the milieu of those who follow the way of Jesus. The focus of the course is to introduce the student to the ways in which First Nations peoples participate as followers of Jesus in a manner that is authentic to their own spiritual understandings. This course will also discuss the appropriation of what has been perceived to be Native spirituality by non-Native people, as well as a brief focus on what can be learned from Native understandings of the spiritual.

    SP 600 Spiritual Theology and Diversity
    This course addresses some very foundational questions – often unasked – concerning spirituality. Is the fluid, organic spirituality, expressed by Native North American people, different from the more packaged ‘religion-as-spirituality’ that seems to typify the experience and thinking for people of a Western cultural mindset? Or, is each of them simply a different expression of the common spiritual essence formed within humanity in the first days of creation? These are important questions speaking to core issues – at least of Native North American life. They reflect difference in perspective which requires us to think differently about Christian faith and life as it might be embraced within their identity as given by God. Using readings and personal stories, the course focuses on exploring the mystery of the spiritual and its application to human growth and development.

    MD 501 Missio Dei/Missio Ecclesia
    The outcome of colonial Christianity is evident all around us. And yet, it would appear, we still have not learned. History is still seldom hearkened to when it comes to understanding the future of the generations to come. Yet, historically, the Church appears either eschatologically focused or fully fixated on the present. It’s as if the future will correct all the problems wrought in the past or that the past has nothing to do with the present. The missio Dei, understood through Indigenous lenses, suggests an alternate approach. This course will examine the missio Dei in light of historic understandings of a more ecclesiocentric mission and in light of Indigenous perspective.

    MD 560 Indigenous Economics
    This course introduces various theories and forms of praxis within the Canadian context of Indigenous community economic development, setting it within both historical and contemporary contexts. The work of the course is designed to utilize economic issues in Indigenous Canada as its focal lens. Issues covered will include: the impact of governance options on Indigenous economics; Indigenous rights and title – economic perspectives; rationale and economic roots of income differentials between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; and economic failures and successes within Indigenous community contexts.

    Spiritual Life-ways (12 Credits)

    The following four themes will be the means of focus for personal health and well-being and count as one credit each per semester (three semesters minimum) taken for a total of 12 credits. Couples will be expected to participate in the learning experience together.
    1. SL 100 - Practicing God's Presence in the Margins
      • Spiritual Life Development
      • Spirituality / Religiosity
    2. SL 200 - Mentoring - Individual, Small Group, Couple (as required)
      • Assigned Mentor(s)
    3. SL 300 - Colonization / Decolonization
      • Discussion on the Need to Engage with Indigenous Thought and Perspective
    4. SL 400 - Vocation of Ministry - Developing a Healthy Native Lifestyle
      • Systems Dynamics in Family, Church, Organizations and Society
      • Inenimowin (Recovery From Abuse Training Workshop)
      • Howayenheoh – Men’s Mentoring
      • Through the Pain – Suicide Prevention/Intervention
      • Marriage/Family
      • Understanding Community
  • Scholarship Applications
    Scholarship Application

    While not guaranteed, NAIITS attempts to offer a tuition-directed scholarship for the MA program(s), which is made available through the generosity of faculty and friends. If you believe you might qualify for the scholarship, you are encouraged to apply according to the following guidelines.

    $100 per credit hour taken per award period deemed eligible to a maximum lifetime
    award of $5000.

    Requirements for Consideration

    1. Scholarship awards are directed primarily toward Native North American, then other Indigenous peoples – in that order. Non-Indigenous students may apply and be considered, but will not be guaranteed.

    2. Scholarships will be awarded solely at the discretion of NAIITS faculty and/or administration, which may make other awards as deemed appropriate.

    3. Students must be enrolled or accepted into one of the NAIITS degree programs.

    4. Students must be enrolled full time in two consecutive semesters for the year in which the scholarship is being awarded. Full-time status for degree programs is considered reached at 6 hours per semester.

    5. Students must reapply for scholarships each year. NOTE: Subsequent withdrawal from courses to below the above level, or failure to complete courses in the semester for which the award is given will disqualify the applicant from reapplying for one full year.

    6. Applications must be received by March 1st to be considered for the April 30th awards and by July 1st to be considered for the August 30th awards respectively.

    7. Students who are applying for other student aid in their country of residence must complete and file required documents personally – they will not be filed by NAIITS.

    NOTE: Successful applicants are not prevented from applying for scholarships from other sources of funding.

    Download the Scholarship Application form here
  • Apply Now

    We are excited about your interest in studying in the NAIITS/Providence University College program. You may contact the Admissions Office of either NAIITS or Providence if you have any questions or concerns.
    Completed Paper Application:
    1. Pictures of Applicant (2)
    2. Admission Essay Answers
      1. In 300-500 words, relate your spiritual pilgrimage, assessing strengths and weaknesses.Describe your journey as a follower of Jesus.
        • If Jesus is not part of your journey, please explain other spiritual commitments that may affect your ability to study in this program.
        • Indicate how your relationship with Jesus affects your personal conduct and lifestyle.In 300-500 words, briefly describe your present vocation of ministry, highlighting your key ministry-related (a) problems, (b) areas of interest, (c) and long-term goals.
      2. In 200-300 words, describe why you are pursuing an advanced degree and what you hope to gain.
      3. Describe briefly any business, professional or other significant vocational experience that might help us in assessing your application.
    3. Non-refundable Application Fee
      • Domestic Applications - $50.00 CDN
        Note: to qualify as a domestic applicant you must be a Canadian citizen, Canadian Permanent resident or US Citizen
      • International Applications - $150 CDN
    Additional items needed to complete your application:
    1. Medical Form
    2. References (3)
      • Supervisor/Professional Reference
      • Personal Reference
      • Tribal/Community Reference
        Reference forms need to be completed and signed by your chosen referee. Forms should be mailed to NAIITS or included in your application package in separate envelopes with the referee signature on the sealed flap.
    3. School Transcripts
      • High School Transcripts
      • Post-Secondary Transcripts
    Your application, fee(s), and all supporting materials must be sent directly to

    NAIITS Admissions
    PO Box 181
    Carlisle, ON L0R 1H0, Canada.

    or Emailed to:

    1. In addition to the stated enrolment target of Indigenous students and those working, or seeking to work within Indigenous contexts, NAIITS /PROVIDENCE reserves the right to select students on the basis of academic performance and professional qualifications.
    2. In general it is the policy of both NAIITS and PROVIDENCE in the admission of students not to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, sex, nationality or ethnic origin. However, as a means of providing a focused effort to address the lack of Indigenous peoples in this field, NAIITS /PROVIDENCE reserves the right to limit applicants of non-Native North American and other Indigenous descent.
    3. All questions must be answered, with the exception of those marked “optional.”
    4. An interview will be required of applicants as part of the admission process.
    5. Application materials become the property of NAIITS and Providence University College and are not returned and will not be transferred to another institution.