Principles of Good Local

Learn the Principles and Strategies of Good Local



November 2021

Next Course Starts

4 Weeks

 (16 hours Total)​

Time Commitment

US $249.00


Encourage greater community engagement in your project or program?

Achieve more sustainable outcomes, that continue even after the project funding ends, because community members and local leaders are committed to the project?

Learn simple strategies and tools that you can apply in your own work, to help make this happen?

If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place.

About This Course

A common presumption is that if a project has good technical design, then good local development outcomes will follow. But the reality is: designing a program that is technically sound is only half of the equation. The other half is designing your program to fit the local context.

The Principles of Good Local Development online e-course breaks down the core principles, strategies, tools—and mindset—to help you do this.

It begins with challenging how we ‘see’ local development:

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

Analyse the top-down and bottom-up elements to your, and other organisations', work - and trace the factors leading to this situation.

Recognise charity-based versus justice-based approaches in your sector, and develop strategies to working in greater solidarity with community members.

Understand the real contributing factors to the problem of community dependency, how this intersects with the saviour complex, and how to address these issues in your own work.

Measure the extent to which you and your organisation share power with community members, and develop a strategy to open up your project to greater community involvement.

Understand the importance of customary/traditional law & religious and cultural norms, and engage effectively with these systems as part of your basic operating environment.

Reach beyond the local leadership, to engage more deeply with other sectors of the community in a manner that is legitimate and effective.

About Your Instructor

Key Features

User-Friendly Site, Structure and Materials.

This course is designed to be as accessible as possible. While everything I teach is based on a strong theoretical framework, the lessons are simple, and focused on practical application. The site is designed to make it as easy as possible to navigate, access materials, and keep track of where you are up to—so you can focus on learning.

Work At Your Own

Although the live course goes for 4 weeks, you will have access for 6 months. This allows you to try out what you learn, return and dip back into different sections of the course as you reflect on how the principles, tools and strategies apply in your work and community context.

Access To The Course Convener.

You get all of the benefits of working with the Founder & Director of Bridging Peoples, Dr. Deborah Cummins – giving her BEST teachings, tools, strategies and advice – without having to pay hefty consultant fees or enrol in a University course!

Access to the Community.

 Perhaps most importantly, you get access to a community of like-minded professionals. People who, like you, want to really make a difference in people’s lives through their work. And who are prepared to step up, challenge themselves to think differently about their work, and try something new.


Who Should Take This Course

This course is for anyone wanting to learn the fundamental principles of doing good local development. It’s designed for all levels; except for ability to work in English and a working internet connection, there are no pre-requisites to taking this course.

If you’re new to development work, the course will take you step-by-step through the concepts and tools to give you a solid grounding in the field. If you’re more experienced, the course will allow you to expand (and sometimes reframe) your experiences, gain new tools and frameworks to improve your work processes, identify the most important factors shaping your work at the local level, and ultimately share decision-making power more effectively with communities.

Course Outline

Module 1

Why is project failure so common? In this lesson, you will learn some of the more common pitfalls of local development, and the need to shift perspective from being project-driven to engaging with local factors that shape project success, or failure, on the ground.

  Video Lesson (13 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 2

What do we mean when we talk about top-down and bottom-up development? In this lesson, you will learn some of the key differences between top-down and bottomup development, and the factors that pull project design towards the top-down approach—even if bottom-up is more effective.

  Video Lesson (11 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 3

Why does international aid and development common reflect the top-down approach? In this lesson, you’ll learn some of the history of aid and development, and the possibility of finding a path that goes between top-down and bottom-up approaches, to respond effectively to local development needs.

  Video Lesson (12 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 4

What is the difference between taking a charity-based approach, and a justice-based approach to aid and development? In this lesson, you’ll learn about the importance of sharing decision-making power, and shifting mindset from engaging in charity to working collaboratively and in solidarity with people.

  Video Lesson (17 minutes)
   Quiz (5 minutes)
   Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 5

How do you know if you’re sharing power effectively? In this lesson, you’ll be introduced to an important tool: the spectrum of power sharing. You’ll learn the different steps, and how to identify where you and your organisation sit on this spectrum.

  Video Lesson (15 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 6

What can we do about community dependency? In this lesson, you’ll learn about community dependency, how it relates to the (white) saviour complex, and how to identify these issues in your own work. You’ll also learn the most important element to addressing issues of community dependency.

  Video Lesson (14 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 7

What do we mean by worldview, and why is this important for aid and development? In this lesson, you’ll learn about the importance of customary, traditional, and/or religious governance across the world, and what happens when Westernised systems of aid and development are imposed in communities that have their own systems, structures and laws. You’ll also learn how to identify and engage with this as part of your work.

  Video Lesson (14 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Module 8

How do we move beyond broad notions of ‘international best practice’, to effectively engaging with people’s lived experience? In this lesson, you’ll learn a framework that will help you to understand and engage with the local context, and strategically draw these insights into your program design, implementation and/or M&E work.

  Video Lesson (14 minutes)
  Quiz (5 minutes)
  Reflection Sheet (1 hour)
  Group Discussion (45 minutes)

Enrol now!

US $ 249

Per student

US $ 224

Group discount for 3
or more students

Join us to receive

Access to our 4-week courses on the principles of good local development work, including practical strategies and tools you can use again and again.

Regular check-ins in the group forum, to keep you on track.

Live Q&A sessions on how to apply what you learn. NOTE: These live sessions are held 5pm AEST, which works for  Australia/Asia/Africa/Europe timezones. Alternate times may also be considered for USA/Canada/South America timezones if required by a sufficient number. All sessions are recorded for access at any time. 

Bonus: Six months’ follow-up support via our online network.

Enrolment closes 18 November 2021.

Group discounts apply for enrolment of 3 or more people.

Enrolment for August round closed. Enrol for next round, beginning 21 November 2021.

Satisfaction Guarantee

We want you to be really happy with your investment in Principles of Good Local Development. We’re confident that with all of the knowledge, goodness, and practical wisdom that is packed into this course, you will be happy.

But if you’re not: all you need to do is email us at by the end of the first week of the course (deadline 27 November 2021), and we’ll refund your money, minus 5% of the full price to cover admin costs. You will need to complete and provide your first two reflection sheets as proof that you have been engaging with the materials.

We’re sure you won’t need to use this guarantee. But we’re offering it because we want you to feel really confident in investing in this course


Principles of Good Local Development is an entry-level course, to teach you the principles and practices of doing good local development. It gives students a broad overview of international development, community development, and related fields of community engagement, organising and mobilisation, so they understand the connections between these fields. It also has a strong practical component, providing students with some useful tools and strategies that they can use in their own work. Students learn about top-down and bottom-up development, the differences between charity and justice-based approaches, how to analyse power relations in our working lives, dealing with community dependency, the importance of customary governance, and more.

This course is for anyone who is interested in learning about the basic principles and practices of good local development, including aid & development workers, volunteers, international and community development students, as well as people working at the local level in their country of origin (cross-culturally or otherwise).

No. You do not need to have completed high school or have any tertiary education in order to do this course.

As this is an online course, you will need access to a computer, as well as a decent internet connection. We try to cater to those with slower internet connections by optimising our training videos to make them as quick as possible. We also provide all materials in a variety of formats: so even if your internet doesn’t allow video streaming you can still access exactly the same information via our downloadable audio files, and/or written transcripts. If you are concerned, you should check if you are able to easily view this video HERE If it does not load properly, it’s likely that you will not be able to view our training videos in the membership area.

The course is a series of eight online training videos, accompanied by downloadable audio files, quizzes, worksheets, and reflection activities. There is also a weekly Q&A session in our members-only discussion forum.

The investment in this course is US$249.00. Groups of 3 or more are entitled to a 10% discount.

Yes! We love it when groups join up, as you can discuss what you learn and support each other, as you go through the materials. To encourage this, we offer a 10% special discount for groups of 3 or more.

Registrations for this round close 18 November 2021.

The course starts on 21 November 2021.

We conduct live Q&A sessions via Zoom once a week every Tuesday, at 5pm AEST which works for Australia/Asia/Africa/Europe
timezones. Alternate times may also be considered for USA/Canada/South America timezones if there are a sufficient
number of participants. Q&A sessions are recorded for access at any time.

No. Doing good local development requires an investment of time, effort, understanding, and skills. While we can help with the understanding and skills, the time and effort needs to come from you. As such, while we will support you in your work, we cannot and do not guarantee you will be a better local development work, just by doing this course.That said, we do provide ongoing support to our alumni via our Bridging Peoples Network – so if you ever find you need extra support, and are a member of this Network, then you can trouble-shoot it with us, and with a community of your peers. You won’t be alone through this journey.

No. The success – or failure – of your project comes down to many different factors. Many of these will be unique to your work and community context. While we will share with you the most important principles to working better locally, we cannot and do not guarantee project success, just by doing this course. That said, we do provide ongoing support to our alumni via our Bridging Peoples Network – so if you ever find you need extra support and are a member of this Network, then you can trouble-shoot it with us, and with a community of your peers. You won’t be alone through this journey.

Yes. We want you to be happy with this course. And with all of the goodness that is packed in, we’re sure you will be. But if you’re not, we’ll refund your investment, minus 5% of the full price to cover admin costs. To request a refund, you need (i) demonstrate you have made a reasonable attempt at the course, by completing the first two modules, including completing relevant worksheets, (ii) make your request in writing, attaching your completed worksheets, to no later than 27 November 2021



We’ve taken every effort to accurately represent this program and its ability to help you work better locally.

However, there is no guarantee that you will achieve local development success just by doing this course. The course is not a magic pill. Nothing on this site is a promise that you will achieve success in your work.

Your level of success is dependent on a number of factors including your skills, knowledge, ability, dedication, network, communication abilities and unique work and community context. Because these factors vary according to each individual, we cannot and do not guarantee your professional success.

You are responsible for the results you achieve. Our promise to you is that we will make every effort to provide you with quality information and guidance to achieve your aims, but the results are up to you.

And finally (phew!) when you enrol for this course, you agree to the following Terms and Conditions.

Terms and Conditions

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  2. 2. This website is owned and operated by Bridging Peoples PTE LTD (registration no. 201809602H). It is available at and associated private members area sub-domains.  Both websites together are referred to in this contract as the sites (Sites). These sites are used to sell and deliver our electronic courses and group coaching programs housed within the Bridging Peoples Academy.
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Parties to the Agreement
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Monitoring and Responses to Non-Compliance
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Membership and Registered User Services
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    7. g. If you would like to collaborate with any other person including but not limited to a friend, colleague, organisational partner, or team member in this course, a separate membership will need to be purchased for their use.
Privacy and Confidentiality
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Online Community
  1. 32. Your access to our program materials does not guarantee access to our online community. Our online community is about learning best practice community engagement methods, principles, tools and techniques, and is governed by our Code of Conduct, which is included as an Annex and is part of this Agreement. As a condition of your membership, you may not engage in any behaviour or activities in the online forum which is in breach of our Code of Conduct.
  2. 33. We reserve the right to respond to any complaints of any members or participants breaching our Code of Conduct. We reserve the sole right to decide if your behaviour or activities is in breach of our Code of Conduct. Your failure to comply with these terms will result in immediate termination of your membership without refund.
  3. 34. As a condition of your membership, you are not permitted to use any of our community forums to sell or otherwise gain participants’ or members’ material support for your own project activities, services, courses, or products. As a condition of your membership, you are not permitted to invite members or participants to join other social networks, groups, or courses via our community forums.
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Copyright and Trademark notices
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Exclusion of competitors
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Use of Resources
  1. 42. As a condition of using our Sites and the information contained therein, you must not use, attempt to use, or allow the use our information or services in a way that:
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Code of Conduct
  1. 43. Our Sites and services may contain forums, bulletin boards, review services or other forums in which you may post comments, photos, videos, messages or other material. As a condition of the use of our Sites, services, or online community, you expressly agree that you will not post, upload to, transmit, distribute, store, create or otherwise publish through our Sites or online community, any of the following:
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    4. d. Post anything, or cause any material to be posted, which violates the intellectual property of any other person. This includes but is not limited text, photos, videos, artwork, or any other material that is subject to copyright. You expressly agree that you are solely responsible for the consequences of any lawsuits or actions resulting from your misuse of another person’s copyrighted material.
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    6. f. Use manual or automated software, devices, script robots, or other means or processes to access our Sites or any related data or information.
Financial Transactions
  1. 45. Some of our payments are operated through an online and automated billing system (Online Payment). Where your payments are made via Online Payment:
    1. a. You agree to ensure sufficient funds are available in your nominated account to meet any account withdrawals made by us on their scheduled due dates.
    2. b. If payment is defaulted or not received, you authorise us to debit any outstanding funds from your nominated account without need for notification at a future date.
  2. 46. Where another agent or enterprise is debiting funds pursuant to an arrangement entered into with us, you also affirm the same rights and undertakings explained in this policy to them.
  3. 47. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate any service or account, at our discretion, if payment is defaulted.
  4. 48. We reserve the right to on-sell or otherwise authorise a debt-collection or other authorised agency to collect any amount not paid by you.
  5. 49. We reserve the right to inform credit watch monitoring services of ongoing defaults trends or payment-avoiding strategies employed where we deem it is appropriate.
  6. 50. In circumstances where we invoice you for payment, payment is due and payable by the payment date noted on the invoice. Failure to make payment by the payment date may lead to suspension of use of our Services.
  7. 51. We endeavour to work with clients who have financial difficulties to ensure actions such as those listed above do not happen. If you are having difficulties or require a payment plan please contact Deborah Cummins.
Rights and Limitations Regarding Use of our Our Sites and Online Community
  1. 52. We do not assume any obligation to monitor or censor materials of any site hosted by us or our online community.
  2. 53. We reserve the right to host both moderated and non-moderated forums and other web pages to which website users can post materials (Forums). We are not responsible for materials posted to Forums by third parties, whether or not we moderate those Forums; materials altered by us in moderating Forums; or our removal of, or failure to remove, all or any part of those materials.
  3. 54. These terms supplement other rights we might have, such as our rights in relation to contributors under a contributor’s agreement or those cited elsewhere in the Agreement. By submitting a contribution to us for inclusion on our online community, you agree to be bound by any such contributor’s agreement.
  4. 55. Subject to a separate written agreement, we may elect whether or not to make material available to others under a creative commons license. Typically, comments and forum postings will be available under a creative commons license.
  5. 56. We may add information to any message originated via our website(s) or online community.
  6. 57. If we publish material submitted by any third party, the author of that content permits all other users to access, view, store or reproduce the material for their personal, non-commercial use.
  7. 58. If we publish material submitted by you, any third party, or us and the web page indicates that the content of that page is available for dealing under a creative commons license, others are also authorised to deal with the relevant content under the terms of that license.
  8. 59. If you submit material to any of our Sites or online community you grant, or warrant that the owner of such material has granted, to us and our affiliates, third party content providers and licensors a world-wide, nonexclusive, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable, unrestricted and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such materials, or incorporate them in other works, in whole or in part; use the names and images (if any) that you submit with any such material, including names and images identifying you as the author of the material; and exploit all proprietary rights (such as copyright, trademarks and service marks) in any such material, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed, for any purpose, commercial or otherwise (including promotion of us or our objectives).
  9. 60. If you submit material to any of our websites or online community, you consent to us and any person authorised by us doing any or all of the above despite all moral and similar rights you may have or later acquire in respect of any such material.
  10. 61. If you submit material to any of our websites or online community, at our request and expense, you will execute and deliver to us all such instruments and take such other actions as may be requested by us to obtain the benefit of and perfect this grant of license and consent.
  11. 62. If we publish material submitted by you for publishing, you permit all other users to access, view, and store or reproduce the material for their personal, non-commercial use.
  12. 63. If you submit material to our website(s) or online community for publication, you permit us, for any reason, to monitor the content of our Sites, including our online community, chat rooms, electronic bulletin boards, forums and other communications facilities, to determine compliance with these conditions; and edit, refuse to post or remove any material submitted by you or to you.
  13. 64. Where you post any images or content on our online community, you accept responsibility for obtaining any trademarks, copyright, relevant releases or licenses required.
  14. 65. You agree to release us, defend us, and hold us harmless from and against any claims, damages or liability arising from or related to the use of photographs which you post.
  1. 66. We have taken every effort to accurately represent our services and programs, and their ability to improve your work in developing communities. However, we do not give any guarantee that you will improve your work, impact, results, effectiveness, or sustainability by using our services or programs. Nothing on our Sites, online community, or any other communication personal or otherwise constitutes a promise or guarantee to you of improved work, impact, results, effectiveness, or sustainability.
  2. 67. By accessing our services and or purchasing our products and or services, you accept, agree and understand that you are fully responsible for your progress and results from your participation and that we offer no representations, warranties or guarantees verbally or in writing regarding your work, impact, results, effectiveness, or sustainability or results of any kind.
  3. 68. You alone are responsible for your actions and results in life and your development work which are dependent on personal factors including, but not necessarily limited to, your skills, knowledge, dedication, capacity to adapt and change your work style and approach, as well as the particular circumstances in the communities you work with.
  4. 69. You acknowledge and accept that any testimonials or endorsements by our clients, participants or audience represented by us have not been scientifically evaluated by us and the results experienced by different individuals may vary significantly.
  5. 70. Any statements outlined on our Sites, courses, products, services, content and offerings are simply our opinion and are not guarantees or promises of actual performance. We offer no professional legal, medical psychological or financial advice.
Third Party Materials and Links
  1. 71. You acknowledge that third party materials appearing on our Sites and our online community are not necessarily controlled or monitored by us and that the views expressed are not necessarily ours.
  2. 72. We may include links to third party websites. You acknowledge that outbound links to third party websites have materials that may change or be deleted from time to time. These are beyond our control, are not monitored by us, nor necessarily express views that are synonymous with ours.
  3. 73. We do not make or infer any representations, opinions or recommendations about third party websites or parties that may be linked to our websites other than those clearly stated within our polices and this Agreement.
  4. 74. We may provide links to third party materials and websites and establish a Facebook group as a convenience to you and other Participants. These third party materials and websites are not part of our services and they may be either withdrawn or terminated at any time without any liability on our part. You agree that you will be responsible for all payment and other obligations associated with your use of any and all third party materials and websites. In addition, you agree that we are not responsible for examining and evaluating the content and accuracy of any third party materials and websites, and we do not warrant and will not have any liability or responsibility for any third party materials or websites, or for any other materials, products, or services of third parties. You further agree that you will not use any third party materials and websites in a manner that would infringe or violate the rights of any other party and that Bridging Peoples will not be liable for your improper use of third party materials and websites.
Third Party Materials and Links
  1. 75. If a dispute arises in connection with this Agreement, a party to the dispute must give to the other party to the dispute notice specifying the dispute and requiring its resolution under this clause (Notice of Dispute).
  2. 76. After the receipt of a Notice of Dispute, the parties to the dispute must negotiate in good faith to resolve the dispute.
  3. 77. If the dispute is not resolved within 21 days after the Notice of Dispute is given to the other party or parties (First Period), the dispute is by this clause submitted to mediation. Either party may propose the name of mediator, and the parties shall agree on the mediator to be appointed.  If the parties fail to agree on the mediator to be appointed within 7 days, then either party may request in writing that the relevant authority in Singapore appoint a mediator from the list of two mediators already proposed by each party within 7 days of the request being made. The mediation must be conducted in Singapore.
  4. 78. The parties must pay the mediator’s remuneration in equal shares.
  5. 79. Each party must pay its own costs of the mediation.
  6. 80. If the dispute is not resolved within 28 days after the appointment of the mediator (Second Period), the Parties will be free to resolve the dispute by any other means they deem fit.
  1. 81. If any provision of this Agreement is prohibited or unenforceable the unenforceability does not invalidate the remaining provisions of this Agreement.
  1. 82. The failure of any party to insist on the performance of any obligation contained in this Agreement shall not be deemed to be a waiver of such obligation.
  2. 83. Waiver of any breach of any provision shall not be deemed to be a waiver of any other breach of such provision or any other provision.