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Problem-Based solutions from the classroom to the Community: Transformative approaches to mitigate the impacts of boom-and-bust in declining urban communities


  • Lara, Jesus J.


Strategic partnerships between universities and declining urban neighborhoods with limited resources have resulted in some innovative and forward-thinking approaches to land use and planning. These approaches respond to the impacts of boom-and-bust through the implementation of problem-based solutions and have spurred development to make communities more resilient. The university-community partnerships and engagements have multiple goals, including increasing university responsiveness to local needs, stimulating real-world change, and preparing students to effectively address complex social challenges (Dorado and Giles, 2004). However, such approaches are complicated by a variety of factors, including stakeholder expectations, power imbalances, and the conflicting goals of educators and community members (Mansuri and Rao, 2004). While the benefits of service-learning programs to universities are well documented, the benefits of such higher education partnerships to community participants are not as well known (Netshandama, 2010). Successful engagements seem to require community involvement and decision-making authority at every phase, mutual accountability, and trust (Winkler, 2013). This paper refers to a series of case studies of community engagement and neighborhood empowerment that involved the development of a collective sustainable plan/vision for declining inner-city neighborhoods with limited resources. This participatory form of local community development combines and goes beyond spatial planning and land use tools to demonstrate in some depth how an “inside the neighborhood” approach can make communities less vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles. These neighborhoods, located in Columbus, Ohio, have seen tremendous declines in population and economy over the past years because of significant losses in manufacturing jobs. The case studies can inspire communities and demonstrate that service learning has the potential to provide communities with place-specific guidelines and recommendations that improve the quality of life for residents; but their implementation requires a collective effort that goes beyond the classroom.

Suggested Citation

  • Lara, Jesus J., 2020. "Problem-Based solutions from the classroom to the Community: Transformative approaches to mitigate the impacts of boom-and-bust in declining urban communities," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:lauspo:v:93:y:2020:i:c:s0264837718315072
    DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104094

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Moon Jeong Kim & Hazel A. Morrow-Jones, 2011. "Intrametropolitan residential mobility and older inner suburbs: A case study of the Greater Columbus, Ohio, metropolitan area," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 133-164, January.
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    5. Long, James E & Caudill, Steven B, 1992. "Racial Differences in Homeownership and Housing Wealth, 1970-1986," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(1), pages 83-100, January.
    6. John F. Forester, 1999. "The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262561220, September.
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