Courses & Units

Working with Communities XBR202


Working with Communities is offered as an intensive unit over six weeks in Winter School. Students should be prepared to spend approximately twice the usual amount of time per week to successfully complete the entire unit over the six-week period.

Face to face tutorials are available.


This second-year unit Working with Communities will give students in a range of conceptual and practical tools to understand the complex idea of community and skills to work effectively with diverse communities in their professional practice. The focus is on (1) understanding the multiple lenses through which community can be understood and constructed (2) how communities respond to change and risks – such as COVID 19 and; (3) the challenges and opportunities of engaging communities in participatory planning and change processes.

Rather than engaging with the multitude disciplines, professions and theoretical frameworks engaged with the idea of community the approach here will be to present a series of propositions about the desired nature of community ( for example that a community is a place or space of security) and then interrogate them through the lens of different ‘ideal types’ of communities ( for example a gated community). This approach is designed to traverse topical aspects of the immense literature on community in a way that engages students and encourages conversation and debate.

The basic typology presented to understand the idea of community is:
(1) Communities have borders (physical or otherwise such as rules of entry on Facebook communities)
(2) Communities have specific ways of organising (such as clans or rituals)
(3) Communities have valued relations (such as trust)

The unit will encourage students to reflect on and analyse their own community(ies) experiences. By using COVID 19 we can zoom in on current issues that have close links to the idea of community – such as the role of online communities or to understand collective panic.
The unit comprises three interlinked modules:

o In search of community: The first module focuses on the concept of ‘community’. It explores the question, ‘What is community?’ This module asks students to reflect on the different communities they identify with and why. The module introduces different types of communities, common myths about communities, and poses key questions that students can use to reflect upon how different communities are defined, organised, and understood.

o Communities and change: The second module focuses on drivers of social change and how communities grapple with change processes, locally and globally. In this module we will focus on Covid 19 as a contemporary change driver in community. In this module we will look at how specific ‘ideal types’ of communities have/could/should/will respond to COVID19.

o Engaging with communities: The third module focuses on approaches, tools and communication strategies for engaging communities with a focus on two contemporary approaches, collective impact and nudging.
In this unit, students will have the opportunity to apply theory to practice via simulated professional practice scenarios (problem-based learning), interactive activities and reflections, and a project in which they apply the concepts learned to analyse how a real-world organisation works with one or more specific communities. Students will also have access to a series of short practitioner video clips in which guest speakers from a range of professional backgrounds illustrate key ideas from the unit with practical examples.


Unit name Working with Communities
Unit code XBR202
Credit points 12.5
College/School College of Sciences and Engineering
Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Discipline UTAS Centre for Rural Health|Agriculture and Food Systems|Regional Partnerships
Coordinator Professor David Adams
Available as an elective? No
Delivered By University of Tasmania


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Unit census dates currently displaying for 2023 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2023 will be available from the 1st October 2022. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

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Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the concept of community and processes of community-based change (Knowledge)
  • Be critically reflective (look, listen, question and reflect) when working with communities and recognise their interactions with local and global contexts and change forces (Global Perspective and Social Responsibility);
  • Appraise and effectively apply a range of approaches and methods to work with diverse communities in tackling issues and facilitating change (Problem-solving skills)
Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2 Domestic Full Fee
not applicable

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

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AssessmentAssignment (20%)|Report (20%)|Report (40%)|Presentation (20%)
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Required readings will be listed in the unit outline prior to the start of classes.

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