2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Rethinking the Suburbs

Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Faculty: Jennifer Gerend urban planning, David Muehleisen sustainable agriculture, entomology, Matthew Smith political science

Fields of Study: American studies, community studies, environmental studies, government, history, political science and sustainability studies

Fall: CRN (Credit) Level 10080 (16) Fr; 10082 (16) So - Sr; 10564 (1-16)  

Winter: Enrollment Accepting New Students  CRN (Credit) Level 20050 (16) Fr; 20051 (16) So - Sr  Signature Required Admission will be based upon required reading and preparation for upcoming applied learning opportunities as assessed in an interview. Students should expect to complete some catch-up work during the break. Interested students should contact Matt smith (smithm@evergreen.edu or 360-867-6459) or Jennifer Gerend (gerendj@evergreen.edu or 360-867-6490) or meet with the faculty at the Academic Fair December 1, 2010.  

Spring: Enrollment Accepting New Students  CRN (Credit) Level 30075 (16) Fr; 30076 (16) So - Sr; 30607 (1-16)  Signature Required Students should expect to complete some catch-up work during the break.  

Credits: 16(F); 16(W); 16(S)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


This program takes as a starting point that suburbs as they have evolved in the United States need rethinking. We invite students who want to work, read challenging books, learn skills in writing and social analysis, and consider complex social issues ranging from land use policy and the preservation of farmland to the design of new city centers and engaging public space to join with us in research and service to communities locally or across the country. This program provides opportunities for advanced students to undertake engaging internship work in urban/surburban studies and agricultural policy in the context of a program and supported by strong academic texts.

Suburbia evokes images of ticky-tacky boxes spread across the hills of Daly City, grotesque faux-French chateaus on five acre plots, sprawling malls, a world without sidewalks dominated by mothers in Chevy Suburbans spewing gas to drive five miles to the nearest grocery, a world with perfect lawns but no parks, places about which Gertrude Stein would say there is "no there, there." Yet today America has more suburbanites than city or rural inhabitants. Today's suburbs are also diverse, as more suburbs are now dominated by non-family and childless households than ever before. More suburbs are multi-racial or non-white than ever before. Clearly the suburbs have evolved beyond the role of a destination for families fleeing the city or a refuge for the Anglo-American middle class.

Today's suburbs still attract residents for many of the reasons they initially developed, yet they are at a critical juncture. Many of them have in recent years become new cities or have been incorporated into neighboring cities. In recent decades, new population, employment and cultural centers have emerged. Assumptions about transportation, public and private space, and the gender relations of work and home are drawn into question. Many suburban places face new challenges, as they strive to create public gathering spaces, "town centers", a socially inclusive culture, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods, viable mass transit options and other traditional "urban" amenities. What does it mean to live in a new city, and how do these fledgling communities observe their own limited histories? How has the development of suburbs threatened agriculture and the security of their food supply, forests and fisheries? Students will be engaged by texts that examine the history, land use, sociology and public policy, as well as the literature of the suburbs.

We will prepare for our field experiences during the fall and the first half of winter quarter. We will examine the history of choices that shaped the built environment in the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. over the past century, thereby radically influencing today's options for sustainable living and community development. We will develop skills in writing, research, economic and social analysis that will allow us to participate in the work of planning, public policy, and sustainable food systems. We will visit sites in Portland, OR, Thurston County, and the Seattle-Tacoma area. Guest lectures, films and presentations will supplement our readings. In the first half of winter we will focus on developing internships and projects for individuals and groups. Projects can be local, regional or potentially international in their location and scope. Students will work on developing effective ways of documenting their experience and observing their surroundings. Students may work on their research in internships, volunteer settings, and through library resources. Students will work on their research until the middle of spring quarter, when they will return to campus to share experiences and develop polished final presentations and documented research materials. This program provides an opportunity for students to undertake their own exciting, potentially sophisticated work in a well-supported program-based structure.

Maximum Enrollment: 72

Required Fees: Fall/Winter $60 for field trip expenses.

Preparatory for studies or careers in: American history, architecture, land use planning, urban planning, government, politics, law, community development and environmental policy.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Enhanced Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 3rd, 2010 David Muehleisen joined the teaching team; enrollment and description updated.