The Department of Community Development at Acadia University works to develop healthy, socially-just and sustainable communities and lifestyles.  We develop professional leaders who are creative problem-solvers and insightful thinkers. 


The Department of Community Development at Acadia University is a renowned hub of engaged and inspired teaching, scholarship and community service focused on developing healthy, socially-just and sustainable lifestyles and vibrant communities.  Our graduates are well grounded in community development theory, professional skills and a personalized liberal education that instils key core values that guide ethical decision-making in a complex world.  Our graduates lead in diverse and demanding community development contexts and human service settings.

Our core professional values are:

  • Community wellness
  • Social justice
  • Active healthy lifestyles
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Environmental stewardship

All are actualized through civic engagement.

While earning a degree in Community Development, our students will: 

  • be engaged learners with a thirst for knowledge, who take an active role in facilitating their education,
  • be respectful of peers, professors, the university, and the community,
  • embrace the privilege that higher education affords to them and take advantage of all opportunities for formal and informal learning,
  • care about themselves, their personal development, and the quality of their work,
  • learn to care about other people and embrace diversity,
  • explore and develop their values and view of the world and become motivated and armed with the knowledge and tools to act accordingly,
  • gain an in-depth appreciation for the role and meaning of community development in society,
  • gain an in-depth knowledge of, appreciation for and connection to the service professions for which community development is foundational,
  • become engaged with the community and the profession



The Department of Community Development has gone through major changes in the past decades.  Originally it was the Department of Physical Education and Recreation. The program, as it is today, would not have been possible without the help of the five founders:  Donald Wells, Elizabeth Vermeulen, Robert Vespaziani, Gilbert Chapman and David Joos.

The journey to today's program began in the fall of 1890 when a new gymnasium was built at Acadia.  In 1910, an introductory and required course in physical education was formed.  From 1911 until 1914 all first year students were required to take the Physical Training course as a requirement for a Bachelor of Arts degree.  During World War One the course was removed but returned in 1921.  At this time all first and second year students were required to take this course for the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.

In the early 1920's the Department of Physical Education was formed within the Faculty of Arts.  In September 1969 the name was changed to the Department of Physical Education and Recreation which offered a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Physical Education.  In June 1974 the Department changed its name to the School of Recreation and Physical Education.  Also that year Senate approved the establishment of a master's degree in Recreation.  In 1997 the School changed its existing name of the School of Recreation Management and Kinesiology

In 2008 the name of the Recreation Management program was expanded to be "Recreation Management and Community Development.

In 2013 we  shifted to offering a Bachelor in Community Development degree and in 2014 we became the Department of Community Development, separating from the School of Kinesiology administratively. This was due to a number of interconnected factors:

  • A broadening and shift in the profession such that recreation management is now viewed within the broader field of community development and community services in higher level professional roles.
  • A recognition that many of our graduates were qualified for and moving into broader community development positions after graduation.
  • The priority that the program places on community engagement and community development, which is reflected in the course offerings and in faculty expertise.

In 2016 we moved to our new home at 24 Highland Ave.