May 5, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2007

Owens, Michael.
Political Science Department


Project Summary

A course I teach is Urban Public Policy. It attempts to provide students with a firm understanding of the key problems in urban America. It also is intended to help them identify different ways of discerning their causes and solutions. I’ve taught the course of a number of years. But I’ve never included material that relate to the environment. This is true despite requests for it from my students, as identified on their course evaluations. One reason I didn’t include environmental issues, even though they are central to urban America (e.g., environmental degradation) was that I thought I needed to be expert on the environment to adequately guide my students. Yet, a fundamental lesson I drew from the Piedmont Workshop was that I don’t need to be an expert on the environment nor in sustainability to introduce my students to aspects of the subject. Since the workshop I’ve puzzled over how to integrate sustainability. The key question for me was how much of an emphasis to place on it. While I could design an entirely new course, I decided, mainly for reasons related to where I’m at on the tenure track, to just carve out a space in my course and insert some readings related to an issue of sustainability that has always interested many of my students and myself—sprawl. Specifically, will course will now include a class session that defines, examines, and critiques the phenomenon of sprawl, placing a special emphasis on Atlanta. The readings will speak not only to sprawl but sprawl in relation to public health (another area of student interest) and growth management policies. Furthermore, students will now be able to research and write a broader range of policy papers. I think the course will be a great success and that I’ll gain the confidence to introduce sustainability as an academic, political, and policy lens in my other courses.

Course Syllabus attached.

Download: Owens_2007.pdf (258.0 KB)

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