Program Overview 

The CED Certificate Program is an eight-month certificate in CED planning and practice that immerses students in a peer supported learning environment.  We place great emphasis on using a cohort approach to the program since the majority of our students are already mature professionals. Peer-support encourages mutual sharing of personal cases studies and learnings, builds confidence among participants as they become “experts” in their field, and enables networking opportunities that contribute to long-term success in both their daily work and their career advancement.

The eight-months of the program has two components: course work and the CED project planning design lab.

8 Month Program

We kick off the program in October by bringing the cohort together at SFU in downtown Vancouver. This first week covers five (5) short courses, and builds the cohort relationships. 

Over the course of the program, four (4) onlinne courses are delivered in an interactive live virtual classroom. The weekly lectures are 2 hours long, and requires 2 to 4 hours prep time each week. Instructors provide additional feedback and support outside the classroom.

We finish with another one-week intensive at SFU in downtown Vancouver with a final five (5) courses. This final week completes the CED project planning design lab, and allows the cohort to connect and reflect.  

CED Certificate Courses

Courses are provided over the course of 8 months through two one-week intensives at SFU Harbour Centre, with the rest of the courses online.

The curriculum focuses on multiple areas of CED theory and practice, including:

  • Economic reconciliation and Indigenous worldviews
  • Ecosystem sustainability and resource-based economic development
  • Circular and localist economies
  • Social entrepreneurship and the social economy
  • Community organizing and engagement for systemic change
  • Economic resilience and recovery from disruption
  • Tools and strategies for daily CED practice in the field
  • Personal and professional development as a CED leader

Usually a rotating selection of 11 courses are offered each year, with an additional three (3) course units for the Design Lab (e.g. CED 301/302 and CED 307) being mandatory for program completion. A full list of course descriptions can be found here, and the 2019-2020 course list can be found on the admissions page


CED Project Planning Design Lab

The SFU CED Design Labs are core components of the certificate program and often serve as capstones for the certificate experience. We recognize two realities for students in the program: the need to convert their learnings into something tangible they can do in their home communities, and the need to provide home organizations or stakeholders (who have often funded our students) with a strategy or plan that can be considered for implementation. The Design Lab therefore gives students a “safe-to-fail” experience where they can experiment with the tools and concepts of CED in a live planning process, while receiving mentorship and peer-support along the way. If they choose to take this project back to their communities following the program they are free to do so, however, it is not required since the goal is to apply the program learnings in a safe space. If the project idea goes sideways, that’s ok! We won’t tell anyone.

The Design Lab is composed of three course units that are embedded across the full 8-months of the program (one unit in the first intensive, one unit across the online course, and one unit in the second intensive). SFU CED’s "CED Project Canvas" is used to structure the development of the Design Lab project. The CED Project Canvas is derived from the popular Business Model and Lean canvases used in entrepreneurship training, but is adapted to meet the needs of CED practitioners in vetting and developing their project ideas.


Assignments from all of the CED certificate program courses are linked to the Design Lab project, so that students are continually applying their learnings to a live planning process. By the end of the Lab, the assignments are pulled together into a full project document that can accompany the Canvas if students choose to share the project idea with funders, local stakeholders, or others.

Completion of all of the courses as well as the Design Lab marks a successful completion of the program, and a certificate is awarded accordingly.


Typical Applicants to the Program

SFU Community Economic Development takes a very personal approach to recruitment and review of applications to the program. Our program attracts students from across a large swath of roles in community and economic development including:

  • First Nations’ government officials and community members;
  • Staff or volunteers in economic development organizations such as Community Futures or regional economic development entities;
  • Chambers of Commerce or Business Improvement Associations;
  • Employees in the corporate sector where there is interest in community participation and corporate social responsibility
  • Staff or volunteers in non-profit sector organizations with a CED focus such as credit union foundations, anti-poverty organizations, environmental organizations, and housing societies;
  • Government employees who have economic development in their portfolio, such as regional officers at the Ministry of Rural Development, etc.;
  • Social entrepreneurs & staff of social enterprises;
  • Elected and administrative officials from the local, provincial, and federal levels. Recent alumni have included a diverse array of officials from the Chief Administrator of the Village of Telkwa to the Member of Parliament for Courtenay—Alberni.


The Program's broad-based grassroots approach to community economic development is extremely valuable, surprisingly innovative, and completely refreshing. Every economic development professional should take the SFU-CED Program!

David Kalinchuk, Economic Development Manager

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