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CEDEV 452 Syllabus

CEDEV 452 Community Structure, Processes and Capacity (3): "Social organization and change in rural communities; use of sociological principles in analysis of rural problems and rural development." Prerequisites: 6 credits in rural sociology, sociology, or psychology.

Instructor

Judy Chambers
CEDEV 452 Instructor
E-Mail: Please use Inbox in Canvas

I will do my best to respond to your emails (use Canvas Inbox) within 24 hours, and I will let you know if I’m going to be unavailable for any length of time.

Course Overview

CEDEV 452 is a required course for the Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development and the Community and Economic Development Graduate Certificate offered through World Campus. It also is required for undergraduates in the Community Development option of the Community, Environment and Development major. This course provides an overview of the role that communities and the organizations, institutions and people found in communities, play in community and economic development. We will spend the first portion of the course examining how communities are believed to be organized and to function, and how organizations, institutions and forces within and outside of communities are believed to influence individual and community well-being. The second part of the course explores the capacity of the people and organizations in communities and local areas to identify and act upon strategies to enhance well-being. The role of resources from outside the community and especially of local leaders, citizens and organizations in the change process will be examined. While the concepts and application of the theories covered in this course are focused on communities and surrounding areas, they can be applied to understanding the change process across regions or other organizing frameworks, such as watersheds or development zones.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Identify and use theories of community to analyze conditions in communities and to assess strategies for community and economic development.
  2. Describe concepts of community and how they relate to community development and change.
  3. Critically assess approaches to community capacity building.
  4. Analyze the roles of social capital, citizen engagement and community agency in development and change.
  5. Articulate how theories and concepts of community and change apply to community and economic development practice.
  6. Work with your own examples to apply the concepts and ideas to increase your understanding of the concepts and to aid in understanding barriers to change and development in a community or area.

Course Structure and Schedule

Most modules consist of 3 pages:

  1. Overview, Learning Objectives and Readings -- on this page you'll find the same brief overview for each module that is listed in the syllabus, along with learning objectives.  All of the required readings for the module are listed on this page. Note that we use the term 'readings' to include videos, webpages and podcasts.
  2. Framing Essay -- this essay provides a discussion of key concepts in the module, provides context for the readings, and explains why these readings are important to meeting the learning objectives. The framing essay is required reading. At the end of each essay, you'll find 'questions for reflection' which will help you think about and check your learning for both the essay and the readings for that module.
  3. Assignments -- the assignments for each module are listed here along with the due dates.

In general, each Module starts on Monday and ends the following Sunday.  Plan to complete your readings by Wednesday of each week. 

  • For weeks when discussions are assigned, begin posting to your discussion by Wednesday night to enjoy a rich discussion with your classmates. Initial discussion posts must be made no later than Friday night.
  • For weeks in which you are required to submit written assignments, begin writing by Wednesday night. Written assignments are due on Sunday night.
  • Some of the readings will be used again in future modules, so be cautious about skipping readings.

Overview of Discussions

Every student is expected to participate actively in discussions -- it is your assignment for the week. Unlike other courses you may have taken, there are usually 2-3 discussions for the same module, and you should engage in all of them.

Another difference is that your initial 'post' should be no more than one paragraph.  Instead of writing, reading and reacting to mini-essays in the discussions, in this class you are expected to have ongoing conversations with your fellow students. 

Our discussions involve the whole class as opposed to small groups. You should read everyone's posts, but you do not need to respond to each post: choose the threads that are most interesting to you. If you find the whole class discussions overwhelming, please contact me to discuss approaches and accommodations.

Your grade for discussions is based on the quality and extent of your discussion and on how well you integrate the week's readings into your discussion. In other words, I am looking for evidence that you have understood and thought about the readings. To locate the Discussion Grading Rubric for your discussion view the discussion tutorial in the Orientation Module.

Netiquette

The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review Virginia Shea's The Core Rules of Netiquette for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

A Word about Absences

Life happens: all of you are involved with families, professions, other courses etc.  If you know you will be unable to complete an assignment on time (including participating in discussion forums) contact me in advance to discuss accommodations, which may include accepting a late submission for full credit.

If you anticipate being unable to fulfill the requirements to complete this course by the end of the semester, you must contact both Patricia Spears-Taff, CEDEV Program Manager & Student Advisor pjs40@psu.edu and me as early as possible to discuss alternative arrangements

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Required Course Materials

The following books are required. These two texts are not available through Course Reserves.

  • *Meredith Ramsay, "Community, Culture, and Economic Development: Continuity and Change in Two Small Southern Towns", 2nd Edition 2013, State University of New York Press, ISBN: 9781438448862
  • Kenneth P. Wilkinson, "The Community in Rural America", 1991, Social Ecology Press, ISBN: 9780313264672

Additional required course readings are held on reserve at the Penn State Libraries. Access them by going to the "Library Resources" page, located in course navigation menu, and then clicking the "E-Reserves" link. Readings will be listed in alphabetical order.

*E-Book Option: An online version of this text is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book. You can access the E-Book through the Library Resources link on the course navigation. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help ().

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the World Campus’s Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

  • Ability to perform basic computer operations, such as running programs and managing files, folders, and directories.
  • Ability to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • Ability to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the Internet.
  • Ability to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • Ability to download and install programs or plug-ins from the Internet.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more.  Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you experience technology problems of any kind in Canvas, please select the Help icon and select "Report a Problem", "Students chat with Canvas Support", or "Canvas Support Hotline (Students)". 

It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. Try to include information such as:

 the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen
; the date and time when your problem occurred; and
 any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Course Activities

Citing Materials

In this class we require the use of the American Psychological Association Style Manual (APA) when citing and referencing materials in your weekly posts and in your essays. Perhaps the best free reference can be found at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL). The OWL provides you with the basics you will need to properly cite and reference materials.

The APA Style link on the OWL page provides access to the style manuals and examples.

Class Participation

Class participation through online discussions is an expected and essential component of the class. Your participation in online discussions should reflect that you have read and thought about the assigned materials and that you thoughtfully engage in discussions with other students.  

Essays 

This course includes written assignments, a mid-term essay (Module 7) and a final essay (Module 16). You will also submit a theories matrix in Module 10 which summarizes the theories we study in Modules 4, 5 6, 8 and 9.  An explanation of the matrix and a template are provided in Module 4.

Student’s Choice Assignments

In modules 5, 9 and 11, you have three options to complete the assignment: as a discussion, a written assignment, or a research assignment. This is a chance for you to choose how you wish to reflect on the week’s readings and demonstrate your mastery of the module’s concepts.

Grades 

Assignments for this class will be graded on a point system with a total of 1000 possible points. The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less.

Maximum Points Rubric
AssignmentPoints
Discussions, Written Assignments, and Student's Choice 550
Module 7 Essay 150
Module 10 Theories Matrix 150
Module 16 Essay 150
TOTAL 1000
Extra Credit Module 14 25


The following grade distribution is used for this course:

Letter GradePercentagePoints
A 100 - 95 1000 - 950
A- <95 - 90 <950 - 900
B+ <90 - 86.7 <900 – 867
B <86.7 - 83.4 <867 – 834
B- <83.4 - 80 <834 – 800
C+ <80 - 75 <800 – 750
C <75 - 70 <750 – 700
D <70 - 60 <700 – 600
F <60 – 0 <600

Course Content

Orientation

Module 1 - Introduction to Community Development

We start the class with an opportunity to meet each other online. It's important to get a sense of each student's unique experiences and perspectives, as we will be drawing on these throughout the semester in discussions.  In this module, we'll consider different definitions of community development as a frame for thinking about community structure, process and capacity.  We'll also gain a historical perspective of modern community development over the past century in America.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions and other tasks assigned.

Required Material

  • Gines, Dell. 2015. “Reconsidering Traditional Community Development”, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  • Green, Gary Paul and Anna Haines. 2002. A History of Community Development in America.  Ch 2, pp. 19-33 in Asset Building & Community Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • "Community Development Story", Calgary Community Development Conference, 2/13/2013

Module 2 - Community and Community Development

What is Community? The first topic we tackle in this course may be the most difficult, and we will continue to explore it throughout the first several modules of the course. This particular module and discussion can be frustrating because there is no one single definition of either community or community development. Community has been idealized in most cultures and everyone has his or her own conception of what community is (including academics). Each of the many views of community has relevance for understanding the concept and practice of community development. This relevance often depends on the issues addressed or questions being asked. As the course continues, we will explore these different views of community and how they relate to community development in more detail.

Activities and Assignments

Written assignment, 2-3 pages, Research Assignment

Required Material

  • Wilkinson, Kenneth P. (1991). The Community in Rural America. Middleton, WI: Social Ecology Press. Introduction, pp. 1-11.
  • Hummon, David M. (1990)."Community Perspectives: Community Ideology and American Society." Pp. 3-13 in Commonplaces: Community Ideology and Identity in American Culture. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
  • Lyon, Larry. (1987). "Chapter 1. The Concept of Community." Pp. 3-16 in The Community in Urban Society. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.
  • Bryan, Dominic. 2014. ”What is a Community"
  • WITF's Keystone Crossroads project on a 'created' neighborhood in Germany and implications for Pennsylvania

Module 3 – Community and Well-Being

The Relationship Between Community and Well-being: An introduction to the concept of community got us started last week. Now we expand those basic ideas to consider how well-being affects community and vice versa. Well-being in this case is quite broad, including the very basic needs of adequate food, water, shelter and clothing, along with higher-order needs such as physical and psychological health, access to education and social services, and the quality of relationships among members of the community. This broadly defined concept becomes important later in the course as we talk about community capacity and community development, and the ability of citizens to work together to define and hopefully to attain their goals.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

  • Wilkinson, Kenneth P. (1991). "The Community and Rural Well-being." Chapter 3, pp. 61-79 in The Community in Rural America. Middleton, WI: Social Ecology Press.
  • Duncan, Cynthia M. and Nita Lamborghini. (1994). "Poverty and Social Context in Remote Rural Communities." Rural Sociology, 59(3), 437-61.
  • Lyon, Larry and Robyn Driskell. 2012. The Quality of Life and the Quality of Communities. Ch. 15 pp. 227-237 in The Community in Urban Society, second edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. 

Module 4 – Communities as Social Systems

In Module 4, we will look at social systems. This theory is focused on the interrelationships of the parts of the community or society, and can be used to understand change in communities. Social systems theory examines the various institutions and organizations created by human culture and relationships. It does not look at individuals, but rather at the roles people may have in a social system and how people are shaped and influenced by the larger social structure. It focuses on the ways that those institutions or organizations ensure their own survival and the stability of the social system.

Activities and Assignments

Written assignment, 2-3 pages

Required Material

  • Warren, Roland L. (1978). "Chapter 1: Introduction." Pp. 1-20 in The Community in America. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Co
  • Warren, Roland L. (1978). "Chapter 5: The American Community as a Social System." Pp. 137-169 in The Community in America. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally & Co.
  • Green, Gary Paul. (2003). "Civic Involvement, Organizational Ties, and Local Economic Development." Journal of the Community Development Society. 34 (1), 1-17.

Module 5 – Human Ecology

This week we examine human ecology theory. This perspective for understanding communities focuses on macro-level forces that shape human activity and organization. While the language of 'community' is not used, this approach describes how human activity in a place is organized and how it can be affected by outside forces, as well as how forces from within a place or community influence human well-being. Human ecology provides a useful framework for thinking about how a community is organized and how technology and the physical and natural environment influence human activity and survival. This is an important step in building a comprehensive understanding of community and the many forces, some of which are beyond human control and many of which are not local, that influence change and well-being in communities.

Activities and Assignments

Student's choice of assignments

Required Material

  • Park, Robert E. and Ernest W. Burgess. (1967). "Chapter III. The ecological approach to the study of the human community." Pp. 63-79 in The City: Suggestions for Investigation of Human Behavior in the Urban Environment. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Micklin, Michael and David F. Sly. (1998). "Chapter 3. The ecological complex: A conceptual elaboration." Pp. 51-66 in Micklin, M. and D. Poston (eds.) Continuities in Sociological Human Ecology. New York: Plenum.
  • Spear, Stephanie (2013). Fracking Boom in North Dakota has Heavy Impact on Native Americans. Retrieved from https://www.ecowatch.com/fracking-boom-in-north-dakota-has-heavy-impact-on-native-americans-1881673245.html

In addition to the material listed above, choose one of the following readings depending on your interest. Lawrence applies human ecology to urban planning and sustainability, while Love explores environmental issues through a human ecology lens.

  • Lawrence, Roderick J. 2003. "Human ecology and its applications."  Landscape and Urban Planning 65:31-40
  • Love, Ruth L. (1996). "The sound of crashing timber: Moving to an ecological sociology." Society & Natural Resources, 10, 211-222.

Module 6 - Interactional Perspectives on Community

This week we begin looking at individuals as actors in local societies. Building on what we have learned about human ecology and social systems, the interactional perspective helps us to understand the nature or characteristics of the local society in which individuals live and work together. Interactional theory focuses on individual activity within a community with the specific purpose of fostering change, which is referred to as agency. using this perspective. we'll examine why some places develop successfully and seemingly without effort, while others struggle to accomplish the smallest goal.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

  • Kaufman, Harold F. (1985). "An Action Approach to Community Development." Pp. 53-65 in Frank A. Fear and Harry K. Schwarzweller (eds.) Research in Rural Sociology and Development Volume 2: Focus on Community. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, Inc.
  • Wilkinson, K.P. 1991. "The Community: An Interactional Approach." Pp. 13-40 in The Community in Rural America. Middleton, WI: Social Ecology Press. 
  • Korsching, Peter F. and John C. Allen. (2004). "Local Entrepreneurship: A Development Model Based on Community Interaction Field Theory." Journal of the Community Development Society, 35(1), 25-43.

Module 7 – First Integrative Essay

Essay due Sunday night in Canvas.

Module 8 – Culture and Shared Meanings Approaches

Culture underlies the beliefs, expectations and behaviors of people. It also shapes the organizations of societies and decision-making. Culture and lived experiences form the basis for the shared meanings perspective. Shared meanings can be found in attachment to community, attachment to place(s) and whether individuals have or share a 'sense' of community. Each of these, in turn, affects how individuals participate in their community. Culture also plays a significant role in how practitioners perceive actors and problems within communities. The filters we use to view the world depend on the meanings and values of our own culture. The shared meanings perspective of community shifts the focus for understanding community toward how changes in the organization of society (e.g., modernization, industrialization, urbanization) affect behavior, the ways that behavior is controlled, and the nature of relationships between individuals. With this perspective we shift away from more aggregate social structure views of community to looking at how individuals might understand and respond to change.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

Module 9 – Social Networks and Social Capital

The term social capital has become a catch-all phrase. The use of 'capital' also has become widespread, so that almost any adjective can be placed before it—human capital, social capital, natural capital, financial capital. Basically, capital reflects an investment or resource from which a future return is expected. In this module, we focus on social networks within the social capital framework and the extension of individual social capital to the community arena. As with most other topics, there are clear linkages from community social capital to the aspects of community we studied in previous modules of the course. These ideas contribute to the ideas of community capacity, civic engagement and participation, and community decision-making and action that we will examine later in the course.

Activities and Assignments

Student's choice of assignments

Required Material

  • Levitte, Yael. 2004. "Bonding Social Capital in Entrepreneurial Developing Communities -- Survival Networks or Barriers?" Journal of the Community Development Society, 35(1), 44-64.
  • De Souza Briggs, X. (1997). "Social Capital and the Cities: Advice to Change Agent." National Civic Review, 85, 111-117
  • Schafft, Kai A. and David L. Brown. 2003. "Social Capital, Social Networks, and Social Power." Social Epistemology, 17(4), 329-342.

In addition to the material listed above, choose one of the following readings depending on your interest. Grootaert and Narayan present a study in which they attempt to quantify social capital in a community. Their survey instrument (Part 2 of the paper) is particularly illustrative of how the application of social capital theory at the individual level. Portes and Landolt provide a concise discussion of the pitfalls of the popularization of social capital theory as a panacea for societal ills.

  • Grootaert, Christiaan, and Deepa Narayan, Veronica Nyhan Jones, Michael Woolcock. 2004. "Measuring Social Capital: An Integrated Questionnaire", World Bank Working Paper No. 18, The World Bank, Washington DC pp. 1 – 17
  • Portes, A. and P. Landolt. 1996. "The Downside of Social Capital." The American Prospect, 26, 18-21.
  • Brinkley, C. (2017). Visualizing the social and geographical embeddedness of local food systemsJournal of Rural Studies, 54, 314-325.

Module 10 - Integrating Theories to Understand Communities

What is Community? We first visited this question in Module 2. Since then, we've explored many theories that provide tools for contextualizing and understanding communities. These varying perspectives of community structure and processes, including their similarities and differences, can make it difficult to keep the underlying theories, major components, and practical applications of the theories separate. This week's activity is designed to create a useful reference guide for organizing the way you think about and separate the theories.

Activities and Assignments

  • Theory Matrix
  • Participate in discussion

Required Material

  • Williams, Duane D. and Leonard E. Bloomquist. 1997. “Gaining a Community Perspective: A Community Case Study Using Multiple Theoretical Approaches.” Journal of the Community Development Society 28(2): 277-302.

Community Development and Change

Module 11 - Assessing Community Capacity for Influencing Change

So far in the course, you have worked with theories of community and examined how they related to well-being and community development. You have also had an opportunity to think about how to study communities. In this module, you are encouraged to reflect back on what you have read and link it to how the capacity for change in communities is assessed, understood and activated. We explore different perspectives on what constitutes community capacity and how it affects community development and action.      

Activities and Assignments

Student's choice of assignments

Required Material

  • McKnight, John L. and John P. Kretzmann. (1997). "Mapping community capacity." Pp. 157-172 in Meredith Minkler (ed.) Community Organizing & Community Building for Health. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
  • Rohleder, P., Swartz, L., Carolissen, R., Bozalek,V., & Leibowitz, B. (2008). "'Communities Isn't Just About Trees and Shops: Students from Two South African Universities Engage in Dialogue About 'Community' and 'Community Work'." Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 18, 253-267
  • Wilkinson, Kenneth P. (1991). "Rural Community Development." Chapter 4, pp. 80-100, and "In Search of the Community in the Changing Countryside." Chapter 5, pp. 101-109 in The Community in Rural America. Middleton, WI: Social Ecology Press.

In addition to the material listed above, choose at least one of the following videos depending on your interest. The Bhutan and Jamaica videos show examples of asset-mapping in action.  Angela Blanchard’s TEDxTalk applies asset-mapping principles to community service organizations.

Module 12 – Community, Culture and Economic Development

Two communities can appear quite similar in their economic structure, population size and education levels of residents, yet their decision making processes, vision and strategies for achieving their vision can be dramatically different. Why is this? Up to this point in the course, we have focused on different ways that communities have been described and applied those theories somewhat independently. Now we begin the more difficult task of bringing all of the elements or theories of community we have been studying together to understand why communities can function quite differently, and what that means for community development practice.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

  • Ramsay, M. (2013). Community, Culture, and Economic Development: Continuity and Change in Two Small Southern Towns, 2nd Edition, State University of New York Press (entire book).
  • "Somerset County Changes and the History of Charles Street." Maryland Morning Podcast, July 23, 2014. (the first half is an interview with Ramsay)
  • Semper Eadem "Always the Same"?, A report by the ACLU of Maryland and the Somerset County NAACP on continuing racial disparities in Somerset county government

Module 13 –  Community Visioning and Engagement

What is the community's vision for the future? Is it a proactive and forward-looking process that includes all aspects of well-being a community would like to address? A critical component of community development is participation of a diverse array of the organizations, groups and individuals in the community. Unfortunately, participation by representatives of different groups is often uneven. This raises the questions of who is left out and how to include those who do not traditionally participate. Efforts to encourage broad participation contribute to the building of networks and interactions across groups and individuals that can facilitate community improvement efforts. Citizen participation is important in all aspects of community development, and more generally for community quality of life.

Note: This week's list is long but several of these are very quick reads or videos.  Please look at all of them to get a full discussion and examples.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

  • Fiorina, Morris P. 1999. "Extreme Voices: A Dark Side of Civic Engagement." Pp. 395-425 in Skocpol, T. and M.P. Fiorina (eds.) Civic Engagement in American Democracy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings.
  • Lachapelle, Paul. (2008). "A Sense of Ownership in Community Development: Understanding the Potential for Participation in Community Planning Efforts." Community Development, 39(2), 52-59
  • Bassler, Allan, Kathy Brasier, Neal Fogle and Ron Taverno (2008). Developing Effective Citizen Engagement: A How-to Guide for Community Leaders. Pp.  12 - 21  Harrisburg PA: Center for Rural Pennsylvania
  • Sterrenberg, Jay Arthur. 2018. "The Gateway Drug to Democracy". The Atlantic. 
  • Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (2006). How to Create a Great Indy Neighborhood. City of Indianapolis.

In addition to the material listed above, choose at least one of the following depending on your interest.

Module 14 –  Strategies for Achieving Community Goals

Throughout the course, we have spent a great deal of effort learning about communities, how they function, factors influencing their ability to change and respond to change. All of this involves hard work and attention to details, and we have covered a lot of ground. But, this is just the beginning. All of the knowledge we have gained becomes most useful when it contributes to communities achieving the goals they identify for improved well-being. Too often, planning ends with the plan or vision. If broad-based planning and visioning efforts do end at that point, they contribute to social well-being for those involved and they may contribute to the development of community field. But in terms of improving other aspects of quality of life, especially for those not involved in the planning/visioning process, they have failed. To be successful for the entire community, efforts must be made to achieve the community's goals. Actually achieving goals is a great motivator for continued efforts and action.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material

  • Pigg, Kenneth E. and Ted K. Bradshaw. (2003). "Catalytic community development: A theory of practice for changing rural society." Pp. 385-396 in David L. Brown and Louis E. Swanson (eds.) Challenges for Rural America in the Twenty-first Century. University Park, PA: Penn State Press.
  • Wilson, Lisa Pulsipher and Nick Sanyal (2013) “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Antecedents for  and Effectiveness of Community Engagement in Two Small Rural Towns”, Journal of Community Engagement vol.6 no. 2

In addition to the material listed above, choose at least one of the following depending on your interest.

Extra Credit

Module 15 - Community Theories in Development Practice

The readings and discussions in Module 14 focused on community development practitioners in local government and other local community institutions. Although community development happens one community at a time, there are many significant national and international organizations working to encourage community development. Philanthropy plays a large role: foundations such as the Case Foundation were created as vehicles for giving wealth back to communities through targeted approaches to community development. Founders Steve and Jean Case describe this as 'citizen-centered philanthropy' and seek to fund projects and initiatives that have 'transformative potential'.  Other national organizations are collaborative efforts of practitioners and academics who seek to enhance community development practice through the infusion of new ideas and research.

All of these organizations have specific ideas about the type of impact they wish to have on communities and the best ways to achieve that impact.  While their agendas are rarely expressed in theoretical terms, they are based on social science research.  One foundation may fund efforts that are based in social systems theory, while another may encourage efforts that focus on strengthening cultural connections. As practitioners, the more we can identify the theoretical foundation of various approaches to community development, the better able we are to bring new resources to our work.

Activities and Assignments

Participate in discussions

Required Material
Use these websites in place of readings for final assignment:

Module 16 - Final essay

The Final Integrative essay is due this week.

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Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.