LEARN ABOUT THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LECTURE SERIES
The Department of Community and Regional Planning in Temple’s School of Environmental Design has developed a new undergraduate program specifically designed to help improve the quality of life in area communities through a direct, “ground level” approach.
The new Bachelor of Science in Community Development, which will be offered for the first time this fall, “will provide students with tangible skills — organizing, strategic planning, community analysis, community engagement — to work with organizations to improve long-term social, economic and environmental sustainability in any type of community,” said Dr. Lynn Mandarano, Associate Professor in Community and Regional Planning, who will be teaching a variety of courses as part of the new program.
Community development as a field “embraces both citizen activists and professionals in planned efforts to identify, enhance, and create social and physical assets that increase quality of life for residents,” according to Community and Regional Planning Chair Dr. Deborah Howe.
“Community development focuses on grass roots, community-based initiatives. It certainly compliments our Master’s program in Community and Regional Planning, which is often more policy driven and government sponsored, without duplicating the lessons and opportunities our students will be exposed to,” she said. “The Community Development program provides students the tools to empower culturally, economically and geographically disadvantaged communities to define goals and implement strategies to continually improve.”
Community Development, Howe said, is offered as a “4+1” program, which provides qualified students with the opportunity to take graduate planning courses while completing their undergraduate degree. Students, she said, should be able to complete both the B.S. in Community Development and the M.S. in Community and Regional Planning within five years.
“Our programs are directed toward those students who want to develop their capacity to engage communities in achieving environmental and social equity goals. We have a faculty with extensive community development and planning experience and a deep commitment to societal change,” she said. “With a Community Development degree, our students will become critical links between communities and government agencies at every level. It’s a very diverse field where students could find themselves at nonprofit organizations, private foundations or community development corporations or as community investment specialists within banks and regional community development offices of the Federal Reserve Bank.”
The community development field, said Mandarano, has identified a critical need for “the next generation of specialists.”
“There is a particular need in the Philadelphia region as senior managers in the field retire — there’s no one with the skills to fill entry level positions as middle managers move up,” she said. “Beyond the core courses in the program — community planning analysis, community development finance, housing and community development, non-profit management, among others — students truly have an opportunity to explore their own areas of specialization through electives. They could pursue complementary minors and certificates in public health, for example, or corporate responsibility.”
All Community Development students will have the opportunity to engage in real world experience during the program through service learning projects, internships, workshops and field research as their classes take on community-based organizations or neighborhoods as “clients” to tackle complex quality of life issues.
“Our students have often called these types of experiences ‘transformative.’ They have a direct impact on how they envision their own career path,” said Howe. “Community Development is a great launching point for any number of career choices — from planning to public administration, to an MBA. At its heart, community development is about direct, practical applications that open doors and change lives for the better.”
For additional information about the Community Development program, contact 267-468-8300 or CRPlanning@temple.edu.