Interdisciplinary European Master's degree course

“Community Development, Neighbourhood Management and Local Economy”
Master in Community Development (MACD)
Inter disciplinary European Master’s degree course
MACD Info English Version

1. General aims of the course

Firstly, to disseminate the idea of ‘Community Development’ as a philosophical concept and as something, which can be practically applied as a means to facilitate a democratic strategy, which supports sustainable development. Secondly, to train qualified experts to be capable of implementing planned social changes in their localities in a way that requires and implies responsibility in a global context. The course participants will have a shared identification with those aims.

In order to cope with the demands and achieve the goals of a course like this, those teaching on it, and indeed the students on the course too, will have to be of a critical disposition and be able to reflect closely on what they are doing and how they are doing it. Moreover, they will be capable of consciously choosing those theoretical and methodical approaches needed for that social, ecological and economical development required by a community, which is to be democratically organised and truly participatory.

2. Theoretical Position

The community’s development has to be democratic. This in turn means that civil society has to be strengthened in a way that ensures it functions as an independent (a “third sector”) political and cultural entity, as an entity that corrects and complements those deficiencies and failures that are invariably to be found in state structures and the market economy. The main prerequisites for a sustainable development which has implications both locally and globally is a cultivation of those social-cultural and social-economical factors that are already there and, more especially, integrating those individuals and groups who are suffering from deprivation and lack of opportunities, while forming the ecological and social foundations that facilitate the needs of the community as a whole.

In line with the research that we have carried out the factors for local and regional development that we might promote would include providing those who are directly affected by any changes with the relevant expertise and get them involved in the process that is taking place. The willingness to adopt the attitude required to put these factors into practice has to be supported by a particular ethical approach to research along with selecting a combination of methods, which initiate and accompany such a democratic development.

Crucial importance in comprehending local and regional development processes is part and parcel of being able to apply those methodologies which facilitate an understanding of how to cultivate an approach that is orientated towards a detailed consideration of the living environment. The point of departure is not looking at the environment in isolation but rather at looking at how people behave within that environment. This, of course, means that it is all about looking at the day-to-day experiences of individuals or specific groups as a social-cultural reality that is determined by how those individuals or specific groups operate as conscious beings in society.

Community Development

This participation by local people in the development of their own local and regional areas is known as Community Development. Community Development is all about looking at the potential and the problems of a local area and the people working and living inside that area. Moreover, there will be an attempt to formulate synergetic and specific answers for the array of complex questions that those people might be confronted with.

These are the most important factors for consideration when introducing and accompanying those processes that are needed for a planned change. Furthermore, when taking those factors into account the conclusion is quickly reached that the implementation of those processes can only be effective if those circumstances and needs that are peculiar to people in their own particular locality and in their extended living environment are taken into consideration. When models for eco-social development are being discussed, Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the “social room” is of particular relevance and importance for people, who have problems when it comes to articulating themselves. This theory can be used to explain the structural depth of those social structures that affect everyone while simultaneously offering various options on how they can conduct their lives.

Our reference point here is that type of theoretical understanding which gives a central place to the concept of “common”, as it is understood in a community of people who are cooperating and who, through that cooperation, are protecting themselves against any possibility of their being exploited. Originally, an exact interpretation of those terms and definitions could be found in forms of “horizontal societies”, for example, collectivisation, which means the could, therefore, be found in economic and social cooperatives which implement common utilisation of the land and economic activity in order to secure the livelihoods of everyone in the community. The aims of this Community Development are:
• The strengthening of civil society and the promotion of autarkic self help and organisation groups
• The promotion and cultivation of social capital to guarantee an integrated society
• Measures to ensure long term utilisation and the protection and maintenance of natural resources
• Construction and cultivation of network structures and cooperative infrastructure for the benefit of the local economy
• Decentralising and democratising both the existing political and administrative structures and creating openings for those operating within the alternative/new civil societies
• The creation of a social economic base that is orientated towards caring for and securing employment for the local population.

These initiatives and approaches, which might be termed “bottom up” strategies, can be found in programmes that support economic and social initiatives and in “alternative” employment strategies in local and regional development programmes for deprived urban and rural areas. Moreover, they might be found as a component part of programmes for supporting and in development cooperation programmes.

Neighbourhood Management

We should understand the introduction of learning processes, participative planning, the cultivation, opening up and development of new resources and the restructuring and balancing of power structures so that the community as a whole benefits, as an on-going operative concept in the political and social spheres.

The activities, listed above, required for this concept have a corrective and coordinating function. They take place in the gap, which exists between existing political and economic structures and the more extended living environment. In order for those activities to be practically applied a comprehensive understanding of the individuals and groups involved is necessary. However, that is not all and knowledge of the basic existing conditions, the structures inside the community, is needed along with the ability to activate, communicate, moderate and establish the proper connections. Moreover, it is also important for those who are involved in implementing the new processes to recognise any structural barriers such as the unfair distribution of resources and the concentration of too much power in too few hands and then to introduce procedures and processes to address those barriers.

We should, therefore, be wary of the concept of a “neutral” mediator, who supposedly operates in the intermediary area between existing social and political structures and the extended living environment or, at least, we should adopt a critical stance vis-à-vis those who defend and represent the concept as it is understood in “city district orientated work”.

Local Economy

Our interest is geared not only towards traditional commercial economic activity in the localities and regions but also towards the variety of existing and possible alternative economic models and activity. It is not only about employment in the traditional sense but also about social plurality and sensible employment and the utilisation of our resources both human and material.

Therefore, along with utilising commercial and economic activity to meet the needs of local and regional markets, it is important to recognise that this activity has to be synergised and promoted in a way that is conducive to people’s real needs. Economic activity, as it is generally understood in the West, is only one part of the social economy. There are a number of other factors which we have to take into consideration; These are linked to the plurality of “alternative” economic activity that is in fact possible, for instance, informal economies, subsistence economies and other economies that are geared to local markets, cooperatives and micro businesses, the social economy in the “third”, non-profit making, sector and those initiatives which we might see as belonging to a solidarity economy. These “alternatives” are still insufficiently known in the German speaking countries. Nevertheless, it is in precisely this broad spectrum of local and regional economic models that we can see potential for genuine sustainable development.

In discussing the social economy it should be remembered that this is an area, which covers a myriad of initiatives to facilitate the implementation of a civil society that is based on addressing the economic needs of the community as a whole. Co-operatives, charitable trusts, communal factories, multi-stakeholder-structures, various alternative occupational fields that can be found in the informal economy, welfare organisations, savings and credit institutions, fair- ethical investment and trade organisations are just some of the initiatives being referred to. With trade organisations in particular we might, according to a number of experts, find a poignant, suitable and sustainable answer to many of the central questions, which our society is confronted with.

Publications and research in this area, which is still unknown to many Social Scientists in the German speaking countries, is being undertaken in the faculty responsible for the academic discipline “Community Development, Neighbourhood Management and Local Economy”, which has, for some time now, been the subject of a great deal of interest from students in all faculties.

3. Normative Orientation

“Sustainability” has, at least since the ‘Conference for the Environment and Development’, which took place in Rio in 1992, been considered as a framework for a global development perspective which seeks to link ecological, economical, social and cultural factors together. The concept of “sustainability” represents a development that looks to satisfy the needs of this generation, while also ensuring that the needs of coming generations everywhere can be satisfied. This means that societies have to organise their social relationships and their economic systems in such away that they don’t, literally, feed on people in the poorer global south, while destroying the planet’s bio-diversity.

The main obstacles to sustainable development are poverty and a shortage of the basic supplies and necessities required. According to Kaus Töpfer, the ex-UNEP director, it is this lack of basics, which is the major factor in poisoning the environment. A concept which has “sustainability” as its main premise is always looking to answer why resources are scarce, how possible “alternative” technologies might be developed and implemented, how we can best utilise recyclable goods and, indeed, how our planet, our “global society”, can become fairer and more just. Therefore, even those apparently objective arguments that we are confronted with are only valid if they are evaluated from an ethical standpoint.

It is essential that civil society be strengthened if there is to be sustainable development, as this means the people’s ability to organise independently and to cope with the challenges in local and regional units is guaranteed. This requires the introduction of learning models and processes, which are aimed at activating and cultivating the organisational competence of as many people as possible while furnishing them with the necessary skills to carry this competence into the future in order to shape and modify the local community in harmony with a “global responsibility”.

The Community’s Economy The local community’s development should automatically answer any questions regarding the logic of a socially integrative economy by serving to maintain the community’s ability to evolve in the social, cultural, ecological and economic spheres. In doing this the community, in its role as a “real community”, which serves the “common good”, the “commonwealth”, defines the goals, coordination principals and limits that are implied by a social economic system such as this. In the planning of a community-orientated economy the following are inherent:
• The indivisible unity between utilisation, production and distribution of the natural resources
• “Common Goods”, which guarantees access to vital resources independent of how powerful the other actors on the marketplace are
• The creation and cultivation social-cultural living conditions in the form of horizontal social structures that are voluntary and based on association

Not only the concept and aims but also the reality of a community economy are diametrically opposed to a system where capital is dominant. This is because in a community economy it is not capital but rather those things that are important in securing peoples’ livelihoods that are crucial. Of course, this in turn means that a society where self-interest, that is a to say a society that is in fact based on “selfishness” and competitiveness, has as its alternative a society which has the common good, or commonwealth, solidarity and cooperation as its guiding principals or indeed as its raison d’être. In the community economy, economic activity is to be viewed from a perspective where the being in society, society itself and the biosphere are what is important.

Our understanding and concept of an economy for the common good, in other words a “community economy”, exists and has always existed in the dominant economy’s shadow and at the moment it is experiencing something of a global renaissance. Unsurprisingly, in the ongoing international debate, these initiatives are being seen as offering an alternative to, or at least complementary structures for, a neo-liberalism, which is increasingly proving itself to be at the centre of many of the economic problems, which we are faced with. In spite of those initiatives and models being structured differently, having developed differently and having very different roots, they do have a number of things in common.

In order to understand the potential that these initiatives possess for our work on the community, or commonwealth, and how they help us understand the “new” theoretical basis for our work, we have to go beyond the confines and adaptations of those discussions on the social economy, social policy and the local economy that have been the norm in the German speaking countries up until now.

4. The course structure

This course provides the students with the tools and skills to tackle the relevant theories, while acquiring and applying those methods and instruments when researching the development of local and regional areas.

Academic discourse, how societies evolve and develop, concepts for a global society and, in particular, innovative solutions in the context of civil society, will all be investigated.

A lot of areas that this course covers will, in the German speaking countries, break new ground. Both teachers and students will consciously be looking at and shaping what is a highly relevant area for our society. The structure of the course ensures that all of the modules provide possibilities for the students to focus on a particular area, while accommodating new societal trends and discourse methods.

Combining the course with the experience that students already have

Where it is possible we look to establish a link between the theories that students learn and methodological practices that they acquire on the course and the professional know-how that they might have picked up during their working lives.

Those questions, which the course participants have been confronted with during their professional careers can be processed within the framework offered by our research institutes, available and future dissertations and studies as well as through the development of our pilot projects..

All of these undertakings will result not only in concrete links being established to the ongoing development that is taking place in the practical context but also to model situations within which the group can learn together.


• Theoretically based practical analysis: In Module part 2 the participants process an analysis of the competence that they have acquired during their practical training and write down their findings.
• Communication, Activation, Mediation: In Module part 3 the participants will acquire the competence needed to actively plan and develop a model for a community for the common good and they will then test this module during the course to see if it is practically viable.
• Socially orientated research: In the Module part 5 “Research Workshops” the participants will acquire the methodological tools to work on developments in the social sphere and to use their own practical knowledge to ask and answer the relevant questions.
• The development of community economy projects: An integral component part of Module part 4 is the conception and planning of a project or business according to criteria found in a community economy.

Modular conceived course

The course is conceived and planned as a modular, interdisciplinary course. It is particularly important to integrate and combine social scientific theories and methods with the theories and methods used in any of the following; the study of economics, town and regional development, social and economic geography, and emancipator community work.

The detailed, specialist, and interrelated information, which the student will get from the course, will furnish him or her with the knowledge to act appropriately when looking for integrated solutions to local and regional problems and to the challenges posed by sustainable development.

Module Part 1
Academic access to area of research and the sphere of activity

Tackling those questions that have to be answered regarding sustainable local development means that we have to ask questions vis-à-vis the current forms of socialisation that we have in the global society. If this isn’t done there might be a tendency to be satisfied with a shortened, inadequate, version of those concepts that are relevant when we are studying the community. One of the things emphasised in Module part 1 is the critical scrutinising of how the neoclassical economic model is just accepted without any real analysing being done. Looking at that phenomena would, of course, also mean that there would be a theoretical examination of those concepts, which are relevant when facilitating the implementation of a type of social economy that is distinguished by the practice of an economic activity and which emphasises ecological and social factors. Furthermore, there will be a scrutinising of social networking concepts and their implication along with a close look at some of the relevant theories which might be found in the political sciences, economic and social geography and housing- social-planning,

The theories in Module 1 will also determine the theories and methodology that will be adopted in Modules 2-5.

Prof. Dr. habil. Susanne Elsen (Head of Module Part 1 and scientific director of the Master)
Prof. Dr. Adelheid Biesecker
Prof. Dr. Dr. habil. Bernd Hamm

Module Part 2
Political and legal aspects, economic and social structures and the motivators in the community

Discussion on the development of cities and regions in the era of digital capitalism is at the core of this module part. In particular the problem areas and increasing importance of local and regional operational structures as well as the different fields, stakeholders, and framework conditions for sustainable solutions, will be looked at.

Opportunities and restrictions, integration and social exclusion as well as a fairer distribution of resources are topics, which our enquiries have to cover.

Different aspects of European policy on social affairs, economics, housing and employment will be looked at.

Examples to be considered will not only be based on case studies within Europe but will also draw on the participants’ and the teachers’ experiences as well as new developments in other regions of the globe.

Prof. Dr. Tilo Klöck (Head of Module Part 2)
Prof. Dr. Michael Krummacher
Dr. Annegret Boos-Krüger

Module Part 3
Communication, mobilisation, Self-help und Self-organisation in the community

In this part of the module concepts, strategies and methods to facilitate democratisation and decentralisation are imparted and examined. This will also mean that the students will be provided with the necessary information and the required motivational and communication skills. The aim here is to look at ways to achieve a fairer distribution and better balance of power in society through promoting self-help and democratic self-organisation, especially for groups which find themselves socially discriminated against.

A special interest will be taken in looking at the importance of social movements in effecting social change and there will be a close look at traditional societies and current trends to support emancipator initiatives in education and social work.

Prof. Dr. Günter Rausch (Head of Module Part 3)
Prof. Dr. Sabine Stoevesand

Module Part 4
Organisation of projects and enterprises that cater to the needs of the community

This part of the module will process and test the relevant areas of responsibility for the development of concrete social-economic solutions, while also scrutinising and examining the organisation required to look after the community’s needs.

The emphasis is on the realisation of cooperative, linked and rotating economic initiatives. Productive self-help-groups, co-operatives, socially motivated business enterprises, multi stakeholder companies ecological-social units and a complementary and alternative currency are all especially important when it comes to the organisation of the community.

Dr. Burghard Flieger (in charge)
Prof. Dr. Markus Jüster
Prof. Dr. Dr. habil. Hans. H. Münkner
Iris Beuerle, first degree in microeconomics and Master in Community Development

Module Part 5
Research workshops and own research centre

This part of the module refers to and accredits importance to the conception and realisation of that type of local area and regional development, which is based on research. The emphasis is on accessing research methods, which look at social surroundings and the living environment.

The workshop character of this part of the module is needed to support the didactic construction required for the theory-praxis integration. The workshop means that stimulated and real tests can accompany the theoretical knowledge, which the students are acquiring.

The students formulate a thesis statement, which they then follow up in a research project under the tutelage of an academic mentor. There is then an evaluation at the end of the fourth semester in the form of a research report.

Prof. Dr. Cordula Kropp (Head of Module)
Dr. Detlev Sträter

Course design

The length of the course will normally be six semesters.
The course consists of the following components:
• Intensive seminars (on campus programme)
• Research workshops (on campus programme)
• Monitored self-study
• Self-study
• Supervised research praxis
• Supervised project work
• Processing of academic dissertations and other academic work

5. Accreditation, certification

The course has 120 European Credit Points (highest level of Master Programs in Europe)
It was accredited in accordance with the guidelines set down at the German Cultural Minister Conference in 2004 and accorded the status of a degree course at German institutions of higher education.
It has been reaccredited for the winter semester 2010/2011.
The advisory council in Austria for universities of Applied Scienc (“österreichische Fachhochschulrat”) accredited 120 credit points to the Master’s degree course in 2005.
In a European context, the agency for quality control for courses in the field of Social Studies (ENQASP) approved the course in 2005.

6. Network of course providers

Academics from various institutions of higher education in Germany and Austria as well as recognised authorities from the praxis, teaching and research in various areas of sustainable local and regional development have come together to implement this “European course”. It is this getting together of authorities from different fields, some with more practical and some with more theoretical knowledge, that has made it possible to provide this challenging and ambitious course at the University of applied Sciences, Munich.

7. Who is this Master’s degree aimed at?

The Master’s degree course in “Community Development, Neighbourhood Management and the Local Economy” is aimed at students who want a practical and theoretical qualification in “sustainable local and regional development” which also has its emphasis on social-cultural and social-economic factors.

This course will be of particular interests to those who have a qualification in Social Work, Educational Science, Health Science, Town and Regional Development, Social Geography, Tourism Management, Political-, Cultural- and Economic Science. This Master’s degree covers different disciplines. It is not only what the students get from their teachers and the content of the course but also the students who offer each other a different perspective through a variety of academic disciplines and relevant experience. This, of course, enhances the common learning experience for the students who are mainly from the German speaking countries and regions of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the South Tyrol.

At the start of this course the students are between 26 and 53 years old, which of course means that they have a wide spectrum of experiences and qualifications. The formal qualifications that the students possess vary from a B.A degree or Diploma from a University of Applied Sciences to a Doctorate degree.

Prerequisite for taking part

One year practical work experience after the first degree (at least a B.A.) is required for admission.
Admission is based on a written application and an interview to see if the student is suitable.
A maximum of 25 students will be granted a place on the course and the course will be offered every three years.

8. Spheres of activity and research fields for graduates

Experts in local development are needed in politics, economics, and in civil-society. Those experts are, therefore, to be found employed in the areas such as development cooperation, as political consultants and in neighbourhood management. However, we might put some emphasis on the fact that they are invariably to be found in the construction and organisation of the “third sector”. Graduates from our course might expect to find employment in community work and neighbourhood management, in urban and rural development, communal politics, employment policy, promotion of economic development, in housing economics and integration. Moreover, they might employed in the networking of those groups in this “third sector, which are operating against a background of deindustrialisation and demographic and, of course, we will see them lending support both to groups and individuals who are starting up cooperatives and micro-enterprises, while getting actively involved in initiatives to promote and support the local economy.

The approaches adopted in Community Development can be found in those economic, employment and social programmes that are intended to promote local and regional development or in those programmes, for instance, LEED, LEADER, “The Social City” and EQUAL, that are intended to facilitate the social and economic integration in Europe of certain underprivileged minority ethnic groups as well as cooperation in the field of development.

Up until now, a total fifteen of the graduates from this course are working as lecturers, either full-time or on a part-time basis, as the increasing demand for people working in the area of social development is also reflected in the teaching profession.
As this goes to print, four of the graduates have, until now, started on a doctoral dissertation.

2006 – 2010 Graduate prize winners

The excellent performance by graduates on the Master’s degree “Community Development, Neighbourhood Management and the Local Economy”, as pioneers on an academically based study on the professional development of local and regional economies, has not gone unnoticed.

Six graduates and students from the Master degree courses were awarded prizes in the years 2006 to 2010:

Sabine Gruber, Vienna and Angelika Tschanen-Hauser, Zurich in 2006, Frank Schmitz, Saarbrücken in 2008 and Iris Beuerle, Hamburg and Stefan Arlanch, Feldkirch in 2010 received the prize for graduate excellence at the University of applied Sciences, Munich (“Hochschule München”) from the university’s friend’s circle.

Likewise in 2008 Dr. Martin Geser from Bregenzerwald, won the DAAD’s prize for the foreign student who most excelled at University of applied Sciences, Munich (“Hochschule München”).

Annual Expert Conference

Academics, graduates and students from the Master’s course organise regular conferences and congresses in order to discuss the relevant questions on the social-cultural and social-economic development of the community.
These conferences take place as a rule in November, there is a great deal of interest in them, and they should facilitate specialist contributions to the further advancement of Community-Development.

Internal publications

This course covers a complex trans-disciplinary area in social development, which has, until now, been insufficiently researched in the German speaking regions.
During the Master’s degree course we publish our own research reports, which address the areas of “Best Practice Models” and theoretical contributions in the area Community Development.

Structured access to doctorate

Graduates from the “M.A. CD” will be offered an introduction and initiation in the doctorate programme, through those already qualified to undertake the PhD. Moreover, they will also be given the opportunity to access an inter-disciplinary PhD, which will be continually monitored and supervised by the student’s doctoral advisor.

Alumni organisation

In 2007 an alumni for the “M.A. CD” came into being as an association to cultivate and facilitate networking and cooperation between current students and graduates from the course, while simultaneously promoting a healthy academic exchange in the German speaking regions of Europe.
Contact and information:

Location of course

That part of the course where the student has to be physically present will take place mainly in the institute in Gauting close to Munich.
The facilities offered there are excellent and provide an optimal environment for studying. The participants can also reserve very reasonably priced board and accommodation. Gauting is very easy to reach by the “ S-Bahn” from Pasing in the west of Munich.

Course fees

Our association of higher education institutions finds it appropriate to set a “community economy” fee for this Master’s degree course; this means contenting ourselves with a fee that covers our costs but won’t engender a profit. Academics, who will be teaching and supervising on the course, are not looking for any special remuneration, which means that the course fees can, to a large extent, be invested in the students. For instance, in their publications, in the conferences they will attend, in study trips that they will take and in inviting guest lecturers from outside the university.
The fee for the course will be 1,000€ per semester and this can be paid in instalments. The costs can, as the course constitutes a form of further education and training, be set off against tax.

Scientific Director:

Prof. Dr. Susanne Elsen
University of applied Sciences
Am Stadtpark 20
D – 81243 München
Fon: ++49 89 12652300

Application and Information:

Marga Mitterhuber (Coordinator)
Raiffeisenweg 12
D- 86923 Finning

Fon/Fax: ++49 8806 95094

Course Offerings

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