Becoming an Engaged Neighbor

  • Date: March 20, 2021 - May 2, 2021
  • Format: online
Becoming an engaged neighbor means learning and using the names of people who live next to you, developing relationships with them, and being involved in your neighborhood. It does take time and effort. But there are personal and community benefits. In this class, learn about those benefits and the skills needed to become and stay an engaged neighbor.

University of Missouri Extension Logo Becoming an Engaged Neighbor


Educator Information

Burton profile .jpgDavid Burton

David is a county and community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. He is headquartered in Springfield, Mo.

With over 40 years of leadership experience, Burton enjoys helping others grow as a leader.

Class members can contact him by email at [email protected] or by calling the office at (417) 881-8909.Your email address is the default for communication, so check it regularly.

   Program Description

Can you name each of the neighbors that adjoin your property or apartment? Do you know a personal fact about each one? Have you spoken to them in the last 30-days? Turns out, less than three percent of Americans can say yes to all three of these questions. In the meantime, our culture is becoming angrier and less forgiving. We are more isolated. In fact, 70% of Americans say they feel lonely or isolated. Current social research is showing that many in our culture suffer from a lack of personal relationships, which leads to isolation, depression, anger, and more. Part of the reason is that we have forgotten how to be an engaged neighbor.  Neighboring takes effort. It takes some purposeful planning and time. However, the benefits are plentiful, both personally and for our community. Take time to get to know the widow next door, the single mom, the grandparents raising their grandchildren, the new family to the area. We all need relationships, and your neighbors are the perfect place to start. When relationship is missing, neighbors are quick to call the city about a code violation but never consider helping a neighbor.  It is time to get started. Plan a simple get together and invite your neighbors over. Do donuts on the driveway or pancakes or on the porch or goodies in the garage to start. Extend an invitation to each neighbor who has a home bordering you. Get acquainted and work on staying connected.  You may find that being neighborly not only blesses your heart and shows kindness to others but that it also has the power to improve our community one family relationship at a time.

Often times when we think about making a community stronger we think of financial or economic gains in the community. However, social capital has more value than money and through networks and reciprocity it impacts our community more widely than new shopping or even better roads. In this class we flesh out an idea created by David Burton to explain the phases of neighboring.

  1. Resident (You eat and sleep here)
  2. Treasure Hunter (everyone has value and you learn their names)
  3. Connector (developing relationships with neighbors which grows social capital)
  4. Purpose driven (You begin to find joy in neighboring versus loneliness)
  5. Engaged (Your neighboring leads to civic leadership in your neighborhood and community)

Our class is designed to move people through those stages. Organization and funding from a city or group would help. But ultimately it is an individuals responsibility. We just have to convince residents that is important to turn off Netflix, get up off the couch and have social interaction with their neighbors. This class begins at the very basic point of what it takes to learn and remember the names of your neighbors. It all starts there.

Program Organization, Structure, and Resources

No books are required for this class. However, materials like the neighborhood chart, are included in the class modules for download. Each session addresses a different aspect of neighboring. This background information and education is necessary. But initiative is required for the learner to have success. This course is self-paced and individuals can expect to invest about 1.5 hours per session on the materials, video and discussion boards.

   Program Objectives

Upon successful completion of this program, you should be able to

  • Meet and learn the names of your neighbors with adjoining property.
  • Learn the basic principles of neighboring and be able to explain those.
  • Establish a goal for your own neighboring.
  • Host an event for your immediate neighbors or plan and implement an activity on National Good Neighbor Day (Sept. 26-28) or Won't You Be My Neighbor Day (March 20).
  • Be able to identify and explain the local benefits for being an engaged neighbor for you personally, your organization or your community.
  • Stay engaged with other like-minded individuals as part of MU Extension's "Engaged Neighbor" and neighborhood leadership programs.

Learning Activities

This program requires some honest self-assessment which can lead to important changes and personal discoveries. The program is interactive with the discussion boards surveys. Participants are also expected to do some activities with their neighbors.

Assessment Plan

Assessments will include pre- and post-surveys and discussion boards. Those completing the form will receive a printed certificate of completion. At the end of the program, participants will have opportunity for anonymous program feedback/evaluation. We will not assess grades in this course. The instructors are available and happy to visit with participants that have further questions.


We all learn differently, and we want every student to succeed. If you have a learning need or disability, please contact us as soon as possible so we can provide you with appropriate accommodations.  


Dave Runyun wrote a book called, "The Art of Neighboring" after working with a group in the Denver area to inspire residents to be better neighbors. He has worked with over 3,000 communities and organizations on neighboring and has contributed liberally toward this class.  It was his book that inspired David Burton and led him to discover the personal and community benefits of neighboring.


We value the voice of every student in this course. Our diversity as a group—in race, gender, sex, religion, language, ability, veteran status, place of origin—is an asset to our learning experience.  As a result, we will design inclusive lessons and assignments that provide you with the opportunity to speak and be heard, explore your own understanding, and encounter each other.


For a successful online course experience, clear, thoughtful communication is essential. Discussion forums and course communications are important venues for exchanging ideas and promoting learning. Your instructor and fellow participants wish to foster a safe online learning environment. All opinions and experiences, no matter how different or controversial they may be perceived, must be respected in the tolerant spirit of academic discourse. Constructive criticism and questions are encouraged; however, you will be expected to remain professional and courteous in all of your posts. You are encouraged to comment, question or critique an idea, but you are not to attack an individual.

Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University of Missouri's nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Please consider that sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Working as a community of learners, we can build a polite and respectful course atmosphere. As your instructor, I  reserve the right to delete any forum posts or blog entries I deem to be inappropriate for the course.

 If you are emailing your instructor or other students, provide some context for your email by creating a subject line that states the course and topic.  Be brief, clear and to the point.  If communicating a lot of information, use bullets for order and clarity.

(Adapted  with permission from [email protected]'s Online Teaching Foundations)

   Technical Requirements

To complete this course, you will at least need to have all of the following:

  • A keyboard/text input (external or built-in)
  • Headphones or speakers (external or built-in)
  • A computer, laptop, and/or mobile device
  • A stable Internet connection
  • A modern web browser
  • Microsoft Office installed, for opening and manipulating downloaded Word documents
  • A PDF viewer, installed (Adobe Reader or similar)
  • Access to Canvas

Note: You may need to download and install other technologies, sign up for an account for online services, or use additional online collaboration tools, as appropriate, dependent on decisions made within your peer group and decisions you make later in the course regarding exploration of learning technologies. The list provided here simply represents the basic, minimum technology requirements for all learners in the course.

Minimum Technical and Digital Information Literacy Skills:

To excel in this course, you should have these incoming skills:

  • The ability to download, edit, and save Word documents.
  • The ability to effectively use peripheral computer components, including speakers, webcams, and microphones.
  • The ability to download and install software on your personal computer and/or install apps on your mobile devices.
  • The ability to perform a variety of functions within Canvas, including but not limited to:
    • uploading and submitting Word documents;
    • accessing the Calendar tool;
    • updating your Account information (e.g. profile/bio, notification preferences, contact information); and
    • using the Inbox feature to communicate with your instructor by email within the LMS.

List of accessibility and privacy policies
of all required technology in the class:





 When accessing your Canvas course from your mobile device, DO NOT use the Canvas Student App.

For the best user experience, we recommend using  Google Chrome as your browser (Safari for Macintosh).

If you don't have Google Chrome installed on your computer, you can download the latest version.

If you have questions or need additional help, please please email   Customer Support.

You can find more information on the technical requirements on the Canvas website.

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