M.A. in Community and Economic Development Course Descriptions

Policy Process – 3 cr.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how government can influence the progress toward improving social conditions and alleviating social problems, sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Students will examine the processes that lead to the formulation, adoption, and implementation of government policies and programs and how they are affected by a diverse range of values and priorities in a democratic context. Students will examine their own values and explore how they affect their views of social problems and proposed policy solutions. At the same time they will be responsible for checking the consistency of their views with the best evidence about social problems that they can find and to use empirical information to justify their positions and persuade others. Also, they will be involved in deliberations that will require them to include the values of others in the process of arriving at a collective decision. The Policy Process provides an overview of the ways in which ideas become policies within the Constitutional framework of the U.S., the influences on those processes, and the value conflicts that arise and are resolved as proposals or bills as they are considered and eventually become policies. We will follow policy processes mainly at the national level. However, special consideration will be given to the role of federalism in the policy process. After considering the institutions and the roles that are played by various actors in the process, students will examine: a) what, why and how issues get on the agenda; b) types of policies, policy design, and policy tools; c) policy implementation and evaluation; and, d) various models of policy making.

Public Policy Analysis – 3 cr.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the methods and techniques of analyzing, developing and evaluating public policies and programs. Emphasis will be given to benefit-cost and cost-effectiveness analysis and concepts of economic efficiency, equity and distribution. Methods will include problem solving, decision making and case studies. Examples will come from human resource, environmental and regulatory policy.

Research Methods – 3 cr.

This course involves the study of quantitative and qualitative research methodology for the social sciences. The goals of this course are:

· to provide students with the analytic tools to critically evaluate social science research and causal arguments found in everyday life, and

· to improve students’ abilities to pose and answer research questions on their own.

Principles of Community and Economic Development – 3 cr.

This study will incorporate the subjects of two distinct, yet related bodies of literature. One addresses community development and the other economic development. The study will highlight the importance of linking these two concepts in a model that integrates the development of social capital and community capacity and functioning with the economic development of that community. Students will examine theoretical concepts in these two domains as well as real-world economic development models that attempt to move beyond the traditional factors of production and examine ways in which real communities have tried to produce positive economic outcomes through community development.

Ethics and Community Leadership – 3 cr.

This course focuses on the relationship between ethics, public policy and business enterprise. It covers topics in ethics relevant to workforce development, industrial development, public land use for businesses, and public funding for private organizations. Specific topics include but are not limited to conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, public integrity, affirmative action, social responsibility of business, truth in advertising, financial disclosure form requirements, commissions on integrity, fairness in hiring practices, supervision and intra-office relationships, harassment, financial transparency, salary disclosure, corporate and public loyalty, the appearance of impropriety, and local and state business relationships. We will use both classical texts in business ethics as well as a collection of articles on integrity in the workforce. In addition we will review existing and proposed legislation on business-government relationships. This will include the actual legislation creating quasi-government agencies, financial disclosure laws, corporate ethical and legal requirements, and the NY State Commission on Public Integrity. Lastly, we examine actual and fictional case studies on these topics and discuss possible approaches to resolving potential ethical dilemmas.

Workforce Development Policy – 3 cr.

Workforce development programs that are supported by federal and state funding have become an important resource in advancing community and economic development. Workforce development programs, while most often associated with training for lower-skilled and disadvantaged workers, have served as both an incentive for prospective employers and as an alternative to public assistance. The diverse purposes of workforce development policy offer insights into the complexities of public policy in the U.S. federal system and underscore the important role of state and local governments in responding to the demands of a changing economy and workforce. This course will review the evolution of workforce development policy in the United States with particular attention to key federal legislation, the programs and services that create and deliver workforce programs, and the challenges and opportunities that continue to shape workforce development policy and programs. Today, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) calls for partnerships between local governments and business to identify and provide training to develop regional workforces. National laws emerged early as the driving force in the creation of programs and services to improve the nation’s workforce. However, provisions of WIA differ greatly from earlier legislation, beginning with the Progressive Era and passage of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, which established the national role in vocation education. The history of legislation for workforce development points to tensions and challenges that persist today. Workforce development activities depend on myriad programs and providers to achieve locally determined goals. A review of the current delivery system for workforce development programs exemplifies the complexities of public policy in the U.S. federal system. Although based in national legislation, localities have considerable discretion in the design and operation of programs supported by federal funding. However, with declining federal funding, limited state resources, and increased demand for skills employees, workforce development programs face challenges that differ greatly from earlier initiatives to improve the nation’s workforce. The competing demands and opportunities for contributing to regional economies that shape the workforce development delivery system shed light of the strengths and challenges that are characteristic of federal policies and programs.

Macroeconomics for Public Policy – 3 cr.

Students will examine macroeconomic principles and methods and their particular application to public policy with emphasis on policy relating to economic development. The ultimate objective of the course is to understand macroeconomic data, interpret what economic policy suggests about values and direction and the likely impact of macroeconomic policy on communities.

Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations – 3 cr.

Strategic planning and management are increasingly essential in this world of rapid change and complexity, relentless competition for funding, and increasing demands for accountability. In this course you will explore the critical issues related to and the process by which organizations and agencies can gain advantage and optimal long-term performance in such an environment. This process is rooted in the organization’s mission and values, is dynamic and changes with changing circumstances, integrates plans and actions, and leverages strengths and resources to take advantage of the organization’s opportunities. This course has a strong theoretical component; it also has a practical component with student interaction; it culminates in an integrative final project.

Population, Land Use and Municipal Finance – 3 cr.

In this course, students examine the dynamic relationships between the population in a particular community; the type and spatial distribution of individual, business and community activity; and the way that the community finances its activities. Any change in one of these elements will inevitably change the others and, from an economic planning perspective, each must be considered in contemplation of the other elements. Students will consider basic concepts related to each element (gathering and interpreting demographic information; the fiscal and social impact of land use and land use changes; municipal finance concepts such as the impact of taxation, equity in taxation and tax shifting). Finally, students will complete an integrative project dealing with the development of a comprehensive community plan.

Stakeholder Sensitive Business Models – 3 cr.

A critical step in strategic management involves scanning the economic environment which, in turn, requires an assessment of an organization’s relationships with various stakeholders. Effective decision makers understand the importance of balancing and protecting the interests of various stakeholders, including investors, employees, the community, and local and state governments, suppliers, funding sources, various interest groups and, of course, the client or customer. This course will examine the role that stakeholder analysis plays in all aspects of the management process including the use of resources, capabilities and operations to establish competitive advantage and sustainability. Topics will include the connections between organizations and the natural, social, and financial environments, illustrating how all three must be maintained in balance to sustain current and future generations. The course will also look at the role of leadership in creating value for each stakeholder through strategic alignment and ethical decision making.

Final Project – 6 cr.

The student will prepare a culminating final project, a guided independent study, dealing with some aspect of community and economic development. This course will be completed under the direction of the program’s faculty, with one faculty member serving as the first reader and another faculty member serving as the second reader. The purpose behind this course is to provide an opportunity to integrate the learning acquired in this program and to apply that learning in the development of a relevant project or community plan, in working for an organization or agency in a practicum related to community development or in the completion of a theoretical study.