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Above left: The gateway to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Northeast Portland includes a quote from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech: "...they will be judged not by the color of the skin, but by the content of their character." Previously known as Union Avenue, the street was renamed after the civil rights activist in 1989. Right: Portland's Q Center aims to create a safe space to support and celebrate LGBTQ diversity, visibility, and community.

Students in each degree program will examine issues of equity and diversity from a variety of perspectives. Additionally, several specialized and elective courses include a strong focus on equity-related issues. The following are a sample of courses offered in the MURP, MUS, and PhD programs:

USP 410/510 TOP: Community Organizing and Social Justice (3) 

Community organizing seeks to involve people in collective action to address issues of social justice. This course situates organizing within an historical context, primarily focusing upon the rise and fall of the American labor movement in the 20th century, to enlighten students about the key contemporary challenges of community organizing.  We will cover the basic philosophy and goals of community organizing and the various elements of the organizing process (analysis and strategy development, action plans, organizational development, and leadership roles).  We will also survey various types of organizing models. This course is an elective for the Community Development major.

USP 410/510 TOP: China Seminar (1) - The China Seminar is an opportunity to engage with the planning, development, and public policy issues facing China as it undergoes the fastest urbanization process in world history. Each academic year, the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program hosts presentations, panels, film viewings, and book readings. Key to the seminar series is the involvement of our visiting scholars from China, who add their unique experiences and research to the program. Most seminars are open to the public and all PSU students are encouraged to attend.

USP 445/545: Cities and Third World Development (3 credits)

Critical survey of historical, economic, cultural, political, and urban aspects of Third World development, starting with the colonial era. Historical patterns of integration of the Third World with the emerging world market system. Covers problems of the post-independence period, focusing on urban sectoral issues and policy alternatives.  Specific topics include trade, investment, industrialization, finance, technology transfer, political participation, land use, housing, transportation, information infrastructure, population growth, social services, militarism, and cultural conflict.

USP 526: Neighborhood Conservation and Change (4 credits)

The dynamics of neighborhood development, including economic and institutional factors in neighborhood change; neighborhood definition and image, residential choice; residential segregation; neighborhoods in the political process; and neighborhood conservation strategies. Recommended prerequisite: junior standing. Graduate students undertake a substantial independent project in addition to other course requirements.

USP 428/528: Concepts of Community Development (3 credits)

An investigation of models and perspectives on community development. Both structural and dynamic concepts related to processes of community-based change will be explored, including methodological approaches for assessing community settings, and the various roles and relationships in a community-based decision environment. Includes required field observation and a substantial independent field research project which examines cases of community problem-solving. Syllabus

USP 541: Dynamics of Plannign Practice (3 credits)

Examination of principles, methods, and programs for giving explicit attention to the perspectives of citizens in the development and implementation of public policies, programs and planmaking. Sets citizen participation in its historical context with an assessment of its impact to date. Examines issues pertaining to working with diverse communities and highlights ethical dilemmas faced by professional planners. Syllabus.

USP 547 Urbanization and Planning in the Global South (3) 

Urban planning interventions in many cities in the Global South have been facing big challenges as rapid population growth has led to resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and social inequality. This course develops tools and ideas to understand issues confronting cities in diverse socio-economic, political, and cultural circumstances, and how globalization impacts the local space of cities and regions. It focuses on challenges and opportunities in formulating appropriate planning interventions, and prepares planners to work in the diverse and rapidly changing contexts of the Global South. Syllabus.

USP 451/551 Community Economic Development (3)

Course sets community economic development within the context of traditional state and local economic development policy and compares their underlying theoretical perspectives. It examines the impact of recent economic, social and demographic transformations on local labor markets and surveys the labor-market problem solving activities of local governments and community-based organizations. Business and commercial development strategies are also explored. Syllabus. 

USP 552: Urban Poverty in Critical Perspective (3 credits)

Examines historical, empirical, and theoretical perspectives on urban poverty in the United States. It addresses the politics of poverty discourse by examining why explanations and policy prescriptions have emphasized morality and behavior: race, family and culture; and dependency and responsibility rather than systemic economic inequality. Syllabus.

USP 567: Urban Housing Policies (3 credits)

Review of the history and the role of public policy in the housing sector. Study of past and current trends in the delivery of housing services in urban areas. The basic philosophies related to the supply of housing are analyzed and examined relative to current trends in the delivery of housing services in urban areas. Critical review of the role of the federal government and the construction industry. Equal attention to the role of public housing and the impact of urban renewal. Active participation in discussion and a research paper are required. Syllabus.

USP 612: Community Planning and Ethics (3 credits)

An introduction to the history and theory of community development in North America, the theory and practice of urban planning in North America, and to the ethics of civic and business practices linking the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The course will focus on plans as the outcome of political processes with specific consequences for different constituencies within the city. Syllabus.

USP 616: Cities in the Global Political Economy (3 credits)

Introduction to political theory and the political economy of globalization. Begins with core political ideas from classical economy (Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Mills, Marx, Marshall, Keynes, Friedman, and Rawls) and proceeds to an analysis of the rise of transnationalism and globalization. Looks at changes in the global economy, revolutionary changes to capitalism, the fall of communism, and impacts of the globalization of cities, communities, the state, work, social mobility, welfare, cultural diversity, and the environment. Syllabus..