We develop interdisciplinary professional leaders committed to promoting healthy, equitable, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable communities and lifestyles through a broad range of social and environmental purposed organizations. We promote integrated environmental and social leadership on nested issues of equity, social justice, the environment, and climate. Our comprehensive approach to education combines aspects of social justice and environmental responsibility; our teaching provides a mix of strong theoretical grounding, community engaged learning, and small classes. We emphasize engaging students in critical and creative thought and practice through a range of core courses and community experiences.

We seek to build stronger community-university partnerships with and among diverse communities, Indigenous peoples, African Nova Scotians, newcomers, and historically white settler communities. We foster civic engagement and mobilize for social and environmental justice in the classroom and community.


The Acadia Community Development Program is a renowned hub of engaged and inspired teaching, scholarship, and community service focused on developing healthy, equitable, environmentally sustainable, vibrant communities. Our graduates are well grounded in community development theory, professional skills and a personalized liberal education that instills key core values that guide ethical decision-making in a complex world. Many of our graduates lead in a variety of challenging community development situations, while others apply their expertise in diverse and demanding organizational settings.

Our core professional values are:

  • Equity and social responsibility
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Civic engagement

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

  • Be engaged learners who take an active role in facilitating their education
  • Be respectful of peers, professors, the university and the surrounding communities
  • Embrace the privilege that higher education affords them and take advantage of opportunities for formal and informal learning
  • Learn about and develop respect for multiple ways of knowing (e.g., Traditional Knowledge)
  • Become aware of intersectional identities, privileges, and positionalities
  • Become savvy in understanding the relationship between local and global context
  • Care about themselves, their personal development, their communities, and the quality of their work
  • Explore and develop their values and view of the world and become motivated and equipped with the knowledge and tools to act accordingly
  • Become engaged with community and the profession as graduates of Community Development

Our graduates will:

  • Apply their education to enhance the quality of life for others through their professional work and civic engagement
  • Support Acadia University as proud and involved alumni
  • Foster professional opportunities for current students and identify meaningful research opportunities
  • Act as ambassadors for prospective students


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.