Community Development Advising Pathway

Community Development Advising Pathway


Adler, Bates, Fang, Gebhardt, Ozawa, Shandas, Sussman, Zapata


Community Development planners address issues related to uneven urban and social development. Community Development (CD) planning seeks to improve the physical, environmental, social, and economic conditions of communities through the empowerment and capacity building of the people who are part of those communities. This may include a wide range of activities such as neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing, accountable economic development, community organizing, sustainable development, transportation justice, and advocacy for anti-poverty initiatives.   CD planners work in diverse settings, from the public sector, to grassroots and community‐based organizations, to community development corporations, to international development organizations.

CD planning requires an understanding of the historical processes that have resulted in uneven development both within and between places and people (e.g. federal housing policy since the New Deal), as well as the community activism that led to the development of the CD “industry”. CD planners develop a theoretical and practical analysis of structures of race/class/gender/ethnicity/sexuality, social and political history and ideologies, and the economy and political economy. 

Knowledge of CD theory, policy, politics, and practice is essential for those seeking to work in the field. An understanding of community-based organizational theory, practice, and management is important for those who plan to work in the nonprofit sector. CD planning practice also requires acquiring skills for: assessing the equity impacts of systems, policies and programs; generating inclusive engagement; and for organizing; as well as policy and technical skills. Relevant technical skills include social demography, housing finance, labor market analysis, community organizing, organizational management, accounting, policy analysis, and fundraising, among others.

Where community development planners work:

Organization Type Examples of Agencies and Organizations
Government agencies (city, county, regional) Community Service Aide, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Central City Urban Renewal Manager, Portland Development Commission (PDC)
Project/Program Coordinator, Economic Opportunity Initiative, PDC
City Planner, NYC Dept. of Planning
Housing Coordinator, City of Thornton, CO
Program Coordinator, City of Vancouver, WA
Planner, City of Victoria (BC)
Washington County Dept. of Housing Services
Special Projects Coordinator, Butte-Silver Bow County Planning Dept., MT
Senior Communications & Engagement Coordinator, Metro Parks & Nature
Regional Planner, San Joaquin Council of Governments
Community-based organizations Housing Development Coordinator, Human Solutions
Design + Culture Lab
Community engagement director, Native American Youth & Family Center
Hacienda CDC
Portland Urban League
Rosewood Initiative
National policy organizations Policy Associate, Equitable Arts & Cultural Development, PolicyLink
Private, for-profit agencies Underwriter, PNC Bank
Development Associate, Guardian Real Estate Services

Foundational knowledge and skills:

Capabilities Course Type
Historical context of urban disinvestment and rationale for community development.  Affordable housing, neighborhood reinvestment, and gentrification.  The political economy of urban redevelopment. USP 528 Concepts of Community Development Policy, Theory
Comparative analysis of traditional and community economic development goals and policies. Theory and practice of community economic development. USP 551 Community Economic Development Policy, Skill, Theory
Knowledge of policy frameworks for housing development and regulation, especially related to affordable housing. USP 567 Urban Housing Policies Policy

Recommended sequencing:

  Fall Winter Spring

Year 1



USP 528

USP 567


Year 2


USP 510 USP 528 USP 551

Additional knowledge and skills relevant to the pathway:

Area Courses Type
USP 523 Real Estate Development I Policy, Skill
USP 542 Land Use Implementation Policy, Skill
USP 585 Housing Environments for the Elderly Policy
USP 596 Affordable Housing Finance Skill
USP 568 Oregon Land Use Law Policy, Skill
USP 510 Planning and the Housing Market Policy, Theory
Real estate USP 523 Real Estate Development I Policy, Skill
USP 546 Real Estate Development II Skill
USP 596 Affordable Housing Finance Skill
USP 510 Planning and the Housing Market Policy, Theory
USP 539 Green Buildings Policy, Skill
See also: Graduate Certificate in Real Estate Development  
Public policy systems USP 527 Downtown Revitalization Policy, Skill
USP 542 Land Use Implementation Policy, Skill
USP 510 Planning and the Housing Market Policy, Theory
USP 579 State and Local Public Finance Policy, Skill
USP 539 Workforce Development Policy, Skill
PA 558 Managing Public Projects Skill
Food Systems USP 576 Feeding the City Policy, Theory
USP 568 Oregon Land Use Law Skill
PA 574: Food and Agricultural Policy Policy, Theory
PHE 527: Food Systems & Public Health Policy, Theory
See also: Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems  
International Development USP 545 Cities and Third World Development Policy
USP 547 Urbanization and Planning in the Global South Policy
USP 616 Cities in the Global Political Economy Policy
EC 550 Economics of Development Policy
Community Based Organizations USP 526 Neighborhood Conservation and Change Policy, Theory
PHE 517 Community Organizing Skill, Theory
PA 520 Introduction to Nonprofit Management Skill
See also: Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit and Public Management  
Gerontology See: Graduate Certificate in Gerontology  
Social Demography See: Graduate Certificate in Applied Social Demography  
Community Health (Dual Degree – Master of Public Health) See: