Diploma in Development Leadership

July 22 - November 29, 2019 Application deadline: November 30, 2018

Our chaotic global context holds both danger and opportunity for how people and communities envision, mobilize, and organize for a more just and sustainable world. It demands creative, collaborative, and dynamic leadership within organizations, communities, and society-at-large. Coady's flagship Diploma in Development Leadership is designed for change leaders passionate about creating positive change in their communities. Each summer, the institute welcomes a diverse cohort of practitioners and activists from around the world who represent a wide cross-section of civil society, public and private groups, and organizations. Together they learn innovative skills and approaches for leadership in sustainable, citizen-led development.

The diploma program strengthens participants' capacity to confront the complex issues they face and to propose pragmatic strategies for change. In the classroom, participants build and draw upon a critical and reflective social change framework to enhance their leadership competencies and their abilities to motivate and support people to create a better world. The program is deeply rooted in a community-driven, adult education approach drawing upon more than 50 years of practical experience while being informed by the issues, challenges, and experiences of today's world.

Throughout the program, a collaborative relationship is fostered among facilitators and participants to draw out lessons and insights from rich and diverse experiences. This sharing and co-creation of knowledge is a cornerstone to the program. Graduates leave with greater understanding, confidence, and stronger leadership skills joining a global network of committed Coady graduates.

The diploma program comprises foundational courses in the dynamics of change, leadership, and adult education as seen through the lens of an asset-based, citizen led approach to development. Elective courses address themes and skill areas relevant for community development practitioners. The program includes visits to local communities and organizations engaged in a range of innovative development activities, as well as space and opportunity for more individualised research and reflection on a specific change issue of immediate concern.

Personal Benefits

By the end of this course, participants can expect to be able to:

  • apply the critical lens of asset-based, community driven and citizen led development to a diverse range of development challenges;
  • apply the required combination of strategic analysis and tactical / practical skills to these challenges; and
  • provide more effective transformative leadership in support of citizen-led processes for change.


Over the five month program, a wide range of learning methods are used with an emphasis on participatory and experiential learning that builds on the lived experiences of both participants and facilitators. Methods used include classroom presentations, case study analysis, simulation exercises, role plays, field-based practice of tools, and small group discussions. Students have access to the Coady's excellent library collection and its experienced staff in support of individualized research and study initiatives.

Who should take the program?

The diploma program is designed for change leaders applying community-based approaches to drive an agenda of change that addresses contemporary challenges and opportunities. Prospective participants likely work in a leadership position within civil society or community-based organizations, NGOs, social movements, educational institutions, community and private enterprises, and government agencies.