PLAN 302 Fall 2015

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Course Description:

Neighborhood and Urban Analysis Studio.  Collection, analysis, and communication of information for urban- and neighborhood-scale planning, including use and interpretation of published data sources, field surveys and inventories, and interviews. Prerequisite: PLAN 203.

Immersive Learning Project description:
The Riverside-Normal City Neighborhood Action Plan (RNAP) is a citizen-generated policy regarding the future of the neighborhood, and contains initiatives that are developed by the residents of the neighborhood.  The RNAP falls under the umbrella of the Muncie Action Plan, which is a strategic guide for the city to create an action agenda for the future.

Who was/is the community partner? The Blaine-Southeast Neighborhood Association.  Primary contact: Bill Morgan, President.

Location of community partner: Muncie, Indiana

What was the problem the group was asked to solve?  Create a neighborhood action plan for community partners in Riverside-Normal City, Muncie.

List the student learning outcomes.

  1. Students will be able to inventory an urban neighborhood.
  2. Students will be able to identify issues in a neighborhood.
  3. Students will be able to perform a neighborhood survey.
  4. Students will be able to perform key person interviews.
  5. Students will be able to prepare a neighborhood plan.

Over the course of the semester, the students’ knowledge of planning grew to include such skills as public speaking, professional report writing, and survey creation.  They also discovered many sources of information that are helpful to community development including making connections with local organizations, researching grant opportunities, and the importance of establishing relationships within a community. An important take-away from the project is that students learned the interdependence of the built and social environments, a lesson that will stay with them for the rest of their professional career.

How the project aligns with the seven immersive learning characteristics:

  1. To increase the quality and number of immersive learning activities in CAP and/or to raise the profile of CAP through the promotion and dissemination of exemplary immersive learning – This studio engages in an immersive learning project every fall, whereby a neighborhood in Muncie is taken as a client and the students lead the client (with the help of the professor) through the process of gathering public input, performing an inventory and analysis of the area in coordination with the County GIS department, and researching demographics and case studies to produce an action plan for the client.  The action plans produced by this studio the past two fall semesters have been adopted by the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) and received positive remarks from various neighborhood associations, city employees, and Mayor Dennis Tyler.  See:  http://muncieactionplan.org/?page_id=1525.
  2. Engage participants in an active learning process that is student-driven but guided by a faculty mentor – The students are given direction by the instructor on which path to pursue with the client, but ultimately the students are responsible for all the content and interactions at the public and private meetings, the applicability of the case studies and initiative recommendations, and the outline of future steps for the client to enact the plan.
  3. Produce a tangible outcome or product – A neighborhood action plan, which includes research on our partners, local demographics, funding, and case studies; inventory, analysis and suitability maps; and initiative recommendations and prioritization for future action.
  4. Involve at least one team of students, often working on a project that is interdisciplinary in nature (you are encouraged to engage students and faculty from multiple disciplines, but interdisciplinary in content will also show that you have met this learning characteristic) – The team of approximately 20-25 students is made up of urban planning undergraduates but a variety of community affiliates (see list above) will help guide the students through their research and initiative writing.  Students are also educated on a variety of topics outside their profession, such as economic development and historic preservation, through readings and videos.  The primary client, the neighborhood association, is also made up of residents with a variety of professions, allowing the students to interact with a large diversity of people.
  5. Include community partners and create an impact on the larger community as well as on the student participants – This studio will engage Blaine-Southeast as a client and the students lead them (with the help of the professor) through the process of gathering public input, performing an inventory and analysis of the area in coordination with the County GIS department, and researching demographics and case studies to produce an action plan for the client.  The action plans produced by this studio the past two fall semesters have been adopted by the Muncie Action Plan (MAP), see:  http://muncieactionplan.org/?page_id=1525.  Students benefit from experiencing first-hand a real urban planning project, with a real client, from beginning to end.  Former students have commented that this studio was the most realistic project in which they engaged while being enrolled as a student in CAP.
  6. Focus on student learning outcomes – The foremost point of this studio is to achieve the number one learning outcome, namely, for the students to experience a real urban planning project with a real client from beginning to end.  The second priority learning outcomes is for students to produce a neighborhood action plan that will be utilized by the client.  All other learning outcomes are focused on specific objectives underneath that support the two main outcomes, such as planning public meetings, writing and distributing resident surveys, engaging in a multidisciplinary effort, and so forth.
  7. Help students define a career path or make connections to a profession or industry – During the process of creating this plan, students meet many people that are not only residents of the neighborhood, but employees of the City and County, and people who are active in various non-profits and other efforts within the City.  Former students remarked that the studio lead them to a more specific path within the profession of urban planning; after having experienced what it was to worth with a community, the students realized they wanted to have employment that would allow them to do similar work in the future.  The few students who did not enjoy working with the public and/or client as much are then able to see that they are perhaps more well-suited to another aspect of planning such as comprehensive or transportation planning.

See the Riverside-Normal City Neighborhood Action Plan and Immersive Learning Video about the project.

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