NEW495Y1: Community Engaged Learning: Critical and Creative Perspectives on the Non-Profit Sector

Wednesday 6-9 pm.  WI 2008   Instructor: Chris Ramsaroop

About the course:

  • Students work for 5-7 hours per week throughout the academic year on the tasks and projects assigned by their placement supervisor. The work might involve general program assistance, event organizing, preparation of documents, tutoring, service provision or participating in community activities.
  • The 2-3 hour seminars meet weekly for much of the first term and then less regularly, according to the program of workshops and speakers. The seminars are spaces for: peer-learning, experience-sharing  and problem-solving; hearing from community-based speakers about their experiences; talks on topics related to community engagement and social justice; discussion of scholarly articles and other materials on different aspects of community engagement; workshops on skills and practices for community engagement;  and facilitated collective reflection activities.
  • The syllabus includes: an overview of the social purpose sector and some of the issues faced;  frameworks of social change; and different forms of community engagement and social justice work. It takes up questions and themes that emerge from students’ experiences in their placements (so the syllabus can vary year by year depending on students and placements).
  • Assignments include most importantly, regular, written reflections and in-class small-group discussions that grapple with the practical, organisational, ethical and social justice issues that come up for students and allow for thinking that might lead to ethical, personal and career development. There will also be a one or two blog posts, a collaborative designing and delivery of a workshop for the class, an end-of-year symposium presentation, and a final paper where significant learning from the whole year is synthesized and highlighted.

Available Placements

Below Placements are now full:

  • Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) – Butterfly is a grassroots and community-led organization supporting and advocating for the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. It is founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights. Butterfly advocates for justice for Asian and migrant sex workers and for their safety and dignity.
  • The Public Service Alliance of Canada – is a labour union representing nearly 230,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada and in locations around the world. The PSAC placement student will work with Union Organizers, Regional Representatives, and the Education Officer to support workers’ rights campaigns through organizing, education and enforcing union contracts.

  • The Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts – initiates and supports the creation and production of art that engages diverse artists and workers at the intersection of art, social justice and labour. This opportunity is for a student interested in labour justice and the role of cultural programming in community building and social action.

  • Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNCTO) is an organization of Chinese Canadians in the City of Toronto that promotes equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation, and respect for diversity. Current priorities are outreaching to the marginalized Chinese Canadian community, building up community capacity, creating intergenerational spaces, and continuing advocacy work on anti-racism. 

  • Food Chain Workers Alliance – A coalition of worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food, organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. The placement opportunity provides support to the popular education and research programs with food workers.

  • Injured Workers Action for Justice – A diverse group of injured workers who have been fighting for fair compensation and respect from the WSIB (Workplace & Safety Insurance Board) for all workers in Ontario since 2010. The student will work with the Community Organizer at IAVGO Community Legal Clinic and the IWA4J group members to develop and promote membership-driven initiatives that advance the rights of injured workers.

  • The Ontario Health Coalition – a non-profit public interest coalition. Our mission is to protect and improve our public health care system. We fight cuts and privatization and we advocate for improvements to public health care in the public interest. The student placement involves assissting in our health care advocacy work to protect and improve public health care in Ontario.

  • Mining Injustice Solidarity Network – MISN is a grassroots activist group that organizes to draw attention to and resist the negligent practices of Canadian mining companies, in solidarity with impacted communities around the world. This is an opportunity for a student interested in supporting climate justice, Indigenous solidarity, and anti-extractivism to gain skills and experience in grassroots activism and community organizing.      

  • The Ontario Clean Air Alliance – is a small ENGO working for a shift to a renewable electricity future. We do energy policy and analysis, lobby governments, and build public support for a renewable energy system that precludes fossil fuels and nuclear power.     

  • The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) – The umbrella organization for immigrant and refugee-serving agencies in Ontario. OCASI champions equity and human rights for im/migrants and refugees through advocacy, collective action, collaborative planning, research, capacity building, and information and knowledge transfer. This placement is a learning opportunity for a student interested in social justice history in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector using an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework, and advocacy in an umbrella organization.

  • The University of Toronto Community Radio Inc (CIUT-FM) – CIUT-FM is creating an opportunity for a student passionate about the role of empowering cultures and communities in Toronto to create and share content by podcast and broadcast. This is an opportunity for students who are keen to deepen their understanding of the role of culture expression, content creation and storytelling in community building. This opportunity will provide a better understanding of how community media supports diverse communities.

  • Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) is a charitable, non-profit, community-based organization located in Toronto, Canada. We provide safer sex education and services to the East and Southeast Asian communities and support services to persons living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+  communities. An opportunity for a student passionate about health justice and sexual health, mobile populations, and migration, to gain skills and experience in sexual health and HIV prevention program. The student will work side by side with the Asian Migrant Farm Workers’ Project Coordinator to learn about AMFW health and work conditions and see rural Ontario. 

  • Food Secure Canada – FSC works to amplify the power of diverse voices to transform the food system through dialogue, advocacy and capacity building. Our vision is of a just, healthy and sustainable food system, honouring our relationship to the earth and each other. This is a chance for a student who is passionate about food and who wants to make a sustained difference through public policy.

  • Fred Victor (Front Street location) – Fred Victor is a not-for-profit, multi-service community-based organization that has assisted people living on low incomes in Toronto for close to 120 years. Fred Victor works in partnership with people from diverse backgrounds who face poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, addictions, and/or social isolation to address their needs and hopes and advocate for a more equitable society. This is an opportunity for a student who is passionate about the role of culture in building community, specifically Employment & Training Services, to gain skills and experience in a diverse team of caring professionals.

  • Fred Victor (Kingston Rd. location) – Fred Victor is a not-for-profit, multi-service community-based organization that has assisted people living on low incomes in Toronto for close to 120 years. Fred Victor works in partnership with people from diverse backgrounds who face poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, addictions, and/or social isolation to address their needs and hopes and advocate for a more equitable society. One of Fred Victor’s new locations, Kingston Housing has significantly opened possibilities for extending additional housing units in their Scarborough location. The student will assist and support staff, family, other caregivers, medical and other multi-disciplinary providers.

Click here to see examples of placement opportunities (currently inactive) from previous years

How to Apply

To ensure that your application is not misdirected,  please follow these instructions exactly.

  1. Compile the following two items into one single file:

(a)  a covering letter, indicating your interest and background relevant to the specific position; and

(b)  your resume.

  1. NAME the file like this: “Placement name – your name” (e.g.  Helpline – Yingxi Gao,  or Global Commons – Sally Bowles)
  2. Send the one file as an email attachment to the CEL Coordinator at The subject line of the email should be Course code, Placement name, your name,   (e.g. NEW495, Sketch, Petra Marcova).

If you apply to more than one positions, submit separate applications (different emails and attachments) for each of the different positions. 

If you have questions, please contact:

NEW497Y Independent Community Engaged Research Seminar

(Please note that NEW497 has been cancelled this year. It will be offered at a later date. Stay tuned for more details)

About the course:

  • Students will work  for 5-7 hours per week  on the research projects being undertaken by their host organisation.  The kind of research will vary according to the organizations’ needs; they may include surveys, interviews, focus groups, archival research, internet or records research, program evaluation or arts-based research.
  • A 2-3 hour seminar will meet weekly for much of the Fall term, and then less frequently, depending on programming. The seminar provides a space where students check-in about their progress, share ideas and advice about how to manage challenges they encounter, learn from guest speakers and discuss course materials (articles, videos, toolkits). Each student’s research process will be supported by the course instructor, site supervisors, workshops on research methods, and peer-learning.
  • The syllbus includes some background about the social purpose sector, foundations of community-based research, the specific value and applications of community research, the ethical issues in community-engaged research, key methodologies and methods, and case studies of community-based research projects.
  • Assignments might include reflective writing, a research journal, a blog post, a report to be given to the organization, and a presentation on the research in an end-of-year symposium at New College.

Click here to see examples of placements (currently inactive) from previous years