Group Facilitation, Teaching, Lecturing, Counselling
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution,
Strategic Planning Consultation

A few examples of subject matter which Steve has taught:

Cross Cultural Sensitivity, Developing Leadership, Entrepreneurship,
Human Resource Management, Psychology, Refugee Issues, Social Welfare, Social Work and Sociology.

About Steve McDonald

Steve McDonald

Steve has taught in post secondary education settings since 1997. His chief academic research interest is on "the impact of training people in human rights." He has trained & counselled with diverse populations, including military peacekeepers, human rights activists, college & university students, and people from a wide array of different cultural backgrounds.

Steve worked in refugee aid for the United Nations in Africa for several years. He also worked as an inner city school social worker in Canada.

Steve is bilingual (English / French); he is also familiar with Italian, Spanish, and other languages. He is a certified teacher, and a registered social worker.

Steve is a recipient of "YMCA International Peace Medallion," and a recipient of the College "Board of Governors Professional Development Award" at the college where he teaches. He was awarded the "most inspiring alumnus" designation by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education - University of Toronto - during the Institute's centennial celebration.

Steve is a former Vice President of the Ontario Association of Social Workers He has been a dedicated member of the social work profession since 1981.

Steve taught

Conflict Resolution & Negotiation

A simple approach to conflict resolution is best. Emphasis is not on the content of a given conflict, but on the style and quality of communicating about it. An assessment of people’s natural conflict resolution style, to increase self-awareness, is the first step, followed by an introduction of the need for flexibility on how to approach conflict. Participants are asked to explore and access many different skills, which render conflict resolution smoother and more productive. These would include effective listening, awareness of nonverbal communication, and cross cultural sensitivity.

Classic mistakes people make when embroiled in conflict can be enumerated, and potential solutions explored. Fear of conflict is what causes most misdirected responses to it; overcoming the fear and recognizing conflict as having the potential to improve human relations, is the key to success. Learn how to develop an understanding that in conflict scenarios, what people say they want and what they in fact want or need from you are two vastly different things. Sharpen your skills of human observation to learn how to tell the difference. Acquire the ability to orchestrate the circumstances surrounding conflict which will enhance your chances of a successful outcome. Most of these skills don’t come naturally to most people – and training in conflict resolution skills can make all the difference.

Cross Cultural sensitivity

Steve has a heightened awareness of cross cultural sensitivity issues, having visited some fifty countries of the world, on three continents, having grown up in Toronto, Canada (deemed by the United Nations to be “the most multi-cultural city in the world”) and having lived in Africa for four years.

Sociology, teaches us the importance of understanding culture & tradition, in order to understand a given society. Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism need to be explored. Living abroad has taught Steve many lessons including classic faux-pas in body language, attitudes, or verbal communication, while living in another culture. This enables him to to introduce humourous stories to drive home the importance of cross cultural sensitivity, and to illustrate how much smoother life gets when you develop this ability.

Background assumptions of different cultures are explored, including those on gender, family, materialism, and spirituality. These assumptions form the cornerstone for understanding another cultures’s “world view.” Without understanding the “world view” of another culture, cross cultural communication becomes fraught with difficulties. Perception is reality, and no matter how open minded you believe yourself to be, if you are perceived as narrow minded, ethnocentric, or domineering, cross cultural communication becomes an impossibility.

Developing heightened awareness of the pitfalls in how you might be perceived, then finding gentle ways to correct misperceptions, is a personal growth experience for all concerned. Take the journey of cross cultural sensitivity with Steve and begin working on a voyage that may change you for life!

Developing Leadership

Development of leadership potential is an important subject. This subject can be approached by pointing out the qualities or character aspect of an effective leader, and by highlighting historical examples of different types of leaders.

An emphasis is placed on perfecting one’s speaking and communication skills in order to become an effective orator, and on inspiring and motivating followers. Examples of particularly effective leaders historically and internationally are highlighted, including Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela.

Watching for “readiness moments” as a leader, then offering great learning or advancement opportunities to those following, is the best way to be respected as a leader, and goes a lot farther than trying to impose your will. Democratic leadership requires keen observation skills, sensitivity to the needs of those following, and good timing.

Being a good leader does not always mean enjoying the limelight, but often means being willing to wait patiently in the background for the right moment to lead. It means having tremendous faith in humanity and in people’s basic goodwill. Exercises and discussion in how to develop these abilities are what is emphasized when Steve runs workshops on leadership development.


Teaching about entrepreneurship involves how to do a business plan, and how to develop the character traits that make for a successful entrepreneur. These include using your imagination, thinking outside the box, trusting your intuition, impression management, and public relations skills.

How do you assess human needs in order to come up with a sound business idea? What skills are required to determine what people require to enhance their lives, and then package it in a form that makes them willing to pay for it?

What is meant by “social entrepreneurship?” How do you marry social conscience with good business sense? Is it possible to “think bottom line” and yet at the same time think “making the world a better place?”

All of this and more is what Steve explores when training people on the topic of “entrepreneurship.”

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management, includes developing leadership traits, how to motivate people, effective management communication, and many other topics.

Human behaviour in the workplace is a broad and fascinating field, and includes topics as diverse as resolving conflicts in the workplace, how to “manage your relationship with your boss,” motivation of employees, assessing employee satisfaction, and effective communication.

Effectively selecting the right person for the job, and ensuring that employees continue to feel appreciated, serve to minimize turnover. Being skilled in observing employees’ attitudes and behaviour, leads to the ability to intervene to create new opportunities for growth and personal enhancement. Employees who feel valued and appreciated become loyal and hardworking.

Learn how to gain the skills to manage the type of workplace atmosphere that will make your operation a success.


Steve has a strong background in psychology, having studied it as an undergraduate, and having practiced personal and family counselling for many years. He has an enduring appreciation for clinical psychology, and for social psychology. Steve has an eclectic theoretical approach to applying psychology to an understanding of human problems.

From a psychotherapeutic standpoint, Steve has practiced along the lines of “Solution Focussed Brief Therapy” and “Narrative Therapy.”

He has administered personality tests to help people to better understand themselves and how they relate to the world. Steve has a healthy skepticism about many of the ways that psychology has been used or abused in the modern world, and sees it purely as a tool to assist people to become the best human beings they can be.

Refugee Issues

Steve worked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for many years. During his placements in Africa, Steve learned first hand the importance of understanding what it means to be a refugee, what the legal and international, UN-based definitions of “refugee” are, and the psychological and social reality of refugees.

Various forms of assistance to refugees, including the logistics of organizing food aid to refugees in camps, setting up schools in refugee camps, and running house-to-house social welfare programs in refugee camps, are addressed in training about working with refugees. Steve has many stories to tell, and is a wealth of information to anyone needing coaching or training as they are about to embark on refugee-aid employment or volunteer work.

Social Welfare

As a professional social worker with many years experience, Steve has been a long-standing student of the social welfare system, both in Canada and internationally. He has put a great deal of thought into what constitutes a healthy and vibrant social welfare system, and where governments go awry sometimes in planning their social welfare provisions. He understands the history of the modern evolution of social welfare, and what its challenges and threats are in the years to come.

It is important to understand political economy, and how social welfare decisions relate to political leanings and philosophies. He explores how one nation or jurisdiction compares to another, and how radical the differences are across the globe regarding the way social welfare is seen and exercised.

Globalization has a had a huge impact on social welfare policy and decisions, both in Canada an abroad, and not always for the better. Steve explores this aspect and some potential solutions for the years ahead if humanity is going to continue to benefit from a vibrant and effective social welfare system.

Social Work

Steve is a past vice president of the Ontario Association of Social Workers. He has been a practicing social worker since 1981, and has practiced in a wide variety of fields of social work employment including community development, casework and counselling, and group-work. Steve authored a guide for doing couples’ group counselling with married couples. He has taught “Introduction to Social Work as a profession” at the undergraduate level for four years.

He recently completed his Ph D in social work, having researched human rights awareness levels on the part of professional social workers, and the impact that this has on their work. Given his background Steve is a very appropriate choice as a guest speaker or presenter for groups of social workers, on such topics as “the image of the profession,” “human rights and social work,” or “social work: where it has been and where it is going.”


Topics in Sociology are very diverse and include the sociology of the family, of crime and deviance, of religion, of the work world, and of culture. Sociological knowledge, has great power to help young people to understand the world around them.

Dramatic differences exist between various sociological trains of thought, regarding how best to understand societal phenomena. Sociology speaks to such questions as “What is happening to the family today and is it a good thing?” “What is the best formula for reducing crime rates?” “What personnel structure should a company have to ensure maximum success?” and “Is the world really suffering from a population crisis?”

When speaking sociologically, Steve relates it to everyday life and shows how this social science can be used to solve human problems.