Develops knowledge and builds skills in community development theory and techniques while carrying out a group community organizing project with an interdisciplinary team of faculty.
Work with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and fellow students to learn techniques and theory of community development for health. In 2009, we will focus on Tent City III (an advocacy self-help group for Seattle's homeless population) in an experiential approach to learn concepts and skills. Students will develop a plan to have the University of Washington host Seattle’s Tent City III by spring or fall of 2009.
Student learning goals
Working with communities: Learn and apply asset-based community development techniques. Enumerate and execute various means of engaging stakeholders (for example, students, faculty, administration, neighbors, business) in discussion about large policy issues in the U.S. with immediate effects in their own communities (in this case, homelessness and impacts on University of Washington neighborhoods). Develop skills in engaging the general community in planning a complex and controversial project.
Assessing communities: Describe the dimensions of homelessness from a study of the literature. Identify the causes and factors that exacerbate homelessness in Seattle. [e.g., declining economy, returning vets, etc.]
Planning, advocacy, policy development and problem solving: Describe the legal, practical, and political barriers to bringing Tent City to UW, and be able to identify means to circumnavigate them. Navigate the politics of the homelessness advocates and bureaucracy in Seattle (and subgroups), with acknowledgement of the balance between both the emergency and long-term structural dimensions of the problem. Develop a successful advocacy and organizational logistics plan to engage UW in hosting Tent City.
Cultural competency: Develop cultural competency skills with regard to marginalized communities.
General method of instruction
This class will enable students to engage with real live communities, their own and others, to bring about a tangible benefit to people in the city of Seattle. They will employ the theory and literature of community development, develop community organizing skills, and develop their own creativity. Class time will be spent discussing insights and questions about community development, as well as organizing for the hosting of Tent City. It is likely the class will organize into subcommittees and meet outside of class to accomplish their work plans. Students will decide their own organizing strategies and work plans. For illustration purposes, working groups might consist of Community Relations (press, University District, City of Seattle, other homeless organizations, Tent City relations), University of Washington relations (administration, students, faculty, and crafting an educational plan), and Facilities & Logistics (siting, services, health and sanitation, security).
Class assignments and grading
Grading is not competitive. You will be graded individually based on your demonstration of learning and advancement beyond the level at which you began the course. Our goal is to ensure that your knowledge base about community development for health has been markedly expanded. Grading will be weighted as follows: Work plan postings to website 65% Blog entries 15% Class participation 15% Book report 5% Written assignments (work plan postings, blog entries and book report) will be graded on how well students meet the assignment specifications, level of creativity demonstrated, and quality of writing. We're looking for insight, ability to make connections among the readings and to themes in the class, and quality of writing. Class participation is graded on quality of student remarks in class, demonstration that readings were done and understood, and the ability to regularly share insights without dominating.
All homework is graded as a check, a check-plus or a check-minus. Check-plus work gets a 4.0, check work is a 3.5, and check-minus is between 2.0 and 3.0, depending on the quality of the work. Basically, if you do good work on time and participate in the class sessions, you should earn a 3.5 in the course.