Graduate Studies

Community Development and Planning

Chairperson: Samuel K. Thompson
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Samuel K. Thompson
Office: Currens Hall 400
Telephone: (309) 298-1648
Location of Program Offering: Macomb

Learning Outcomes

For student learning outcomes, please see

Program Description

The Community Development and Planning certificate is designed to meet the needs of students desiring to work and influence rural and urban communities by integrating coursework in both planning and economic development. Specialized coursework in the certificate program focuses on issues related to planning and community development in rural and urban areas. The program culminates in a closely supervised internship experience (11 months) in the management of community development projects. In lieu of internship, students may customize their coursework with additional planning and/or community development courses.

Certificate Requirements

I. Core Courses: 6 s.h.

GEOG 557 Planning Implementation (3)
IIRA 501 Principles of Community Development (3)

II. Electives: 6-12 s.h.

Select four courses (12 sh) unless also completing an internship and then only select two (6 sh).

ECON 535 Small Community Development (3)
GEOG 445G Urban Geography (3)
GEOG 448G Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning (3)
GEOG 580 Community Development (3)
GEOG 598 Directed Study – Research (3)
GEOG 610 Seminars in Theory and Methodology (3)
IIRA 510 Leadership and Decision-Making in Community Development (3)
IIRA 511 Advanced Economic Development Practice (3)
IIRA 512 Sustainability and Community Development (3)
IIRA 514 Advanced Community Development Theory and Practice (3)
IIRA 595 Special Topics in Community and Economic Development (3)
IIRA 598 Independent Study (3)

III. Internship: 6 s.h.

Course specific to department.
NOTE: Internships are a 2-semester experience.

TOTAL: 18 s.h.

Course Descriptions

Economics (ECON)

535 Small Community Development. (3) This course emphasizes the practical knowledge required to deal with non-metropolitan development issues. The emphasis will vary with changes in the development environment. Topics will include economic trends, federal and state resources available to support economic development, and special problems and opportunities in small community development. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Geography (GEOG)

445G Urban Geography. (3) An analysis of the nature, distribution, and principal functions of urban settlements and supporting areas. Prerequisites: Two courses in geography or permission of the instructor.

448G Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning. (3) An examination of the contemporary planning process. Emphasis is placed upon utopian planning antecedents, the framework for planning and the mechanisms for carrying out the planning process, and comprehensive planning and its implementation. Prerequisite: GEOG 445 or POLS 370, or their equivalents, or permission of the instructor.

557 Planning Implementation. (3) An examination and application of the various instruments that may be used to implement comprehensive or development plans. Topics included are land use regulations, ownership, taxation, and public investment. Particular emphasis is placed upon the preparation of an implementation program for a unit of government within the western Illinois region. Prerequisite: GEOG 448 or its equivalent, or GEOG 549, or permission of the instructor.

580 Skills in Community Development. (3) This course emphasizes the practical skills required to be an effective community developer, including conflict resolution, leadership, communication, and community capacity-building. The focus is on skill-building, as students are provided opportunities to practice new techniques. Topics will be modified as new technologies and other external factors impact the practice of community development. Graded S/U. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

598 Directed Study—Research. (3–6) A research course designed to allow students to investigate geographic phenomena not covered in their previous graduate‑level courses. Repeatable, but no more than six semester hours of credit may be applied to the minimum credit hour requirement of the program. Prerequisite: Permission of the Department Chairperson.

610 Seminars in Theory and Methodology. (1–3, repeatable to 9) Seminars are available under the following titles: cartography, field methods, quantitative methods, and remote sensing.

Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs (IIRA)

501 Principles of Community Development. (3) This course introduces students to the foundational ideas of community development. It explores the diverse definitions of community and then presents various philosophical frameworks for studying communities and community change. It further introduces students to specific strategies for promoting community development. Specific topics include the role of communities in economic development, community leadership, volunteerism, strategies for promoting social justice and civic engagement, and planning for sustainable development that is environmentally-friendly, community supporting, and economically viable.

510 Leadership, Community Organizing, and Decision-Making. (3) This course explores the leadership and community organization process so students can synthesize a personal leadership philosophy. Students will learn a community view of leadership that embraces diversity, ethics, and collaboration. Students learn approaches to facilitate participatory/community decision-making. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

511 Advanced Economic Development Practice. (3) Economic development rarely occurs in passive communities. Rather, development occurs through active engagement with public and private sector stakeholders. Students will learn how to deploy strategies, including project finance and cluster analysis, for expanding jobs and incomes in communities. Prerequisites: ECON 535 or permission of the instructor and graduate standing.

512 Sustainability and Community Economic Development. (3) Sustainability refers to environmentally friendly, economically profitable and community supporting development. This course examines the literature of community sustainability. Students will examine the literature and conduct case studies of places that exhibit environmental, economic and especially community sustainability. Prerequisite: IIRA 511 or permission of the instructor.

514 Advanced Community Development Theory and Practice. (3) The course will examine the theoretical bases of community development and methodologies that facilitate community development practice and effective collective action. Students will examine how place influences community development practice. Prerequisite: Nine semester hours completed.

595 Special Topics in Community and Economic Development. (3, repeatable to 12) Emerging issues in the rapid changing field of community development will be addressed as special topics. The course selects a cutting-edge issue to examine in-depth and examines how the issue affects the practice of community development. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

598 Independent Study. (1-3, repeatable to 12) Students may take up to three hours of independent study per semester on topics relating to community and economic development. Students must design the study in consultation with a faculty member and complete a Request for Independent Study form with approval by their graduate committee. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.