Communities flourish when people have opportunities to identify their gifts, develop them, and put them to use in God’s kingdom. That’s the starting point for the new community development major at Dordt College.
“We are not in the business of making carbon copies of our own communities. Rather, we’re supporting the development of fruitful, resilient, sustainable systems that respect and build on the gifts, relationships, goals, and resources of real people,” says Dr. Jeff Ploegstra, professor of biology.
Community development is usually associated with helping people in need, and many Christians want to help those who are hungry or suffering. But even though alleviating hunger and providing housing are urgent needs, they are usually best addressed by seeing the big picture. Otherwise helping has the potential to be more hurtful than helpful.
“If such programs are not carefully thought out, they can create dependency, remove markets, eliminate jobs, damage the social structure of a community, or undermine the natural resources on which they depend,” says Dr. Robert De Haan, professor of environmental studies.
“Community development is for people who like complex challenges,” says Ploegstra. “Communities are deep, multifaceted, dynamic systems with unique physical, economic, political, and social environments.”
Dordt’s program will help you understand these complex issues and give you the specific knowledge and skills you’ll need to begin working as soon as you graduate.