University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work

Spring, 2004
Tuesdays, January 6 – April 20, 2004
CL 2309

Instructors:  Pat Murphy, MSW, MPA (412-231-5719), James V. Cunningham.
Available by appointment

PrerequisitesAdmission to the MSW program or permission of the instructors.

Course DescriptionEach democratic nation including the United States draws its dynamics from three sectors of power:  a business sector built upon money and commerce; a government sector built upon law and authority; and a communal sector built upon people and their beliefs.  People create communal power through association and collective activity.  They use much of it seeking to maintain the diverse small communities where they live and seek tranquility.  This course focuses on the small place community and the struggles of its people to build upon its strengths, reduce its distresses, and move it toward fulfillment of self-determined goals.

 The United States has a marvelous national network of sixty thousand little residential       communities capable of sustaining individuals and providing opportunities for families.  We call these small residential places mill towns, suburbs, urban neighborhoods, public housing communities, apartment complexes, gated villages, and rural crossroads, among other names.  Many such small communities work well, supplying essential peace and support.  An increasing number, however, are souring, weakened by the strains of racial division, civic apathy, and economic insecurity.

This course proposes ways for understanding and easing these strains while contributing to the renewal and rebuilding of this indispensable national network and thousands of its valuable small component communities. 

This course seeks to deepen and expand the student’s knowledge and understanding of community-based organizing and local economic development and how they can be combined through community-building strategies shaped by participative organizing and advocacy.  Students will receive grounding in the factors underlying community distress:  social, political, and economic – and be offered a comprehensive “depth” model for community controlled renewal that focuses on social strength, political vitality, and economic equity.

(Note:  This course fulfills the planning requirement for the COSA concentration, and is the core course for the community economic development specialty.)

Course Objectives:

Required Texts: 

Patricia Watkins Murphy and James V. Cunningham, Organizing for Community Controlled Development:  Renewing Civil Society. (Thousand Oaks, CA Sage Publications, 2003). 

Mihailo Temali, The Community Economic Development Handbook:  Strategies and Tools to Revitalize Your Neighborhood.  (St. Paul, MN, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, October, 2002). 

Required Readings:

Commission on Children at Risk, Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities. A Report to the Nation. (New York, Institute for American Values, 2003).

Helen Epstein, “The New Ghetto Miasma – Enough to Make You Sick” in the New York Times Magazine, October 12, 2003. pp 74 ff.

Joe R. Feagin, Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations. (New York  and London: Routledge, 2000).  Chapters 6 and 8.

Holly Sklar, Chaos or Community: Seeking Solutions Not Scapegoats  for Bad Economics. (Boston: South End Press, 1995). Selections.

Additional required readings will be distributed in class.

Suggested Additional Readings: Some especially useful books to be found in the Hillman and GSPIA Libraries:

Edward Blakely, Planning Local Economic Development, 3rd  Edition.  (Newbury Park, CA:  Sage Publications, 2002).

Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of Chicago, Rebecca Stone, Editor, Core Issues in Comprehensive Community-Building Initiatives  (Chicago, IL.  University of Chicago, 1996).

Robert J. Chaskin, et. al., Building Community Capacity (New York City: Aldine De Gruyter, 2001).

E. J. Dionne, Jr., The Revival of Civil Society in America (Washington, DC:  Bookings Institution Press, 1998).

Gary Del Gado, Beyond the Politics of Place:  New Dimensions in Community Organizing in the 1990’s  (Oakland CA:  Applied Research Center, 1994).

William Greider, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003).

Michael Fabricant and Robert Fisher, Settlement Houses Under Siege (New York City:  Columbia Univ. Press, 2002).

Stephen Goldsmith, Putting Faith in Neighborhoods:  Making Cities Work through Grassroots Citizenship (Nobelsville, IN:  Hudson Institute, 2002).

Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio, Comeback Cities: A Blueprint for Urban Neighborhood Renewal. (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2000).

Robert Halpern, Rebuilding the Inner City:  A History of Neighborhood Initiatives to Address Poverty in the United States  (New York City:  Columbia University Press, 1995).

Mark Hanna and Buddy Robinson, Strategies for Communiy Empowerment:  Direct Acton and Transformative Approaches to Social Change Practice (Lewiston, NY:  The Edwin Mellen Press, 1994).

Si Kahn, Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders (Washington, DC:  NASW Press, 1991).

Kim Klein, Fundraising for Social Change, 4th edition. (Oakland CA: Chardon Press, 2001)

John Kretzmann and John McKnight, Building Communities from the Inside Out:  A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets  (Chicago, IL:  Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University, 1993)

Peter Medoff and Holly Sklar, Streets of Hope – The Fall and Rise of an Urban Neighborhood (Boston, MA:  South End Press, 1994)

Herbert Rubin and Irene Rubin, Community Organizing and Development, 3rd  edition (New York, NY:  Macmillan Publishing Company, 2001).

David Rusk, Inside Game Outside Game: Winning Strategies for Saving Urban America (Washington, DC:  Booking Institution Press, 2002).

Lisbeth Schorr, Common Purpose:  Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America (New York City:  Anchor Books, 1997).

Lee Staples, Roots to Power:  A Manual for Grassroots Organizing (Westport, CT:  Prager, 1984).

Mark R. Warren, Dry Bones Rattling:  Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton Univ. Press, 2001).

William Julius Wilson, The Bridge Over the Racial Divide (Berkeley, CA:  University of California Press, 1999).

There will be an occasional expert outside speaker appearing in a class session, and, on occasion, use will be made of an appropriate, quality video.  Student demand for the use of such resources will always be given attention.  In addition, there will be handouts.  Students are urged to do library searches on related topics of special interest to themselves.  Students will always be welcome to share a succinct report on such a search with class.

The instructors will be available for meeting with any student who is having difficulty with the course.

Course Requirements and Expectations and Basis for Grading:

Classroom Conduct:  As a student you have an expectation to exhibit honesty and to respect the ethical standards of the social work profession in carrying out your academic assignments.  Please refer to specific guidelines outlined in the Academic Integrity Policy of the School of Social Work.  These can be found in the School of Social Work Student Handbook, 2002-2004.

The Use of Cellular Telephones is Prohibited During Class.  If you have an emergency and need to have your cell phone turned on, please use a quiet ring and sit in a seat nearest an exit from the classroom.  If you receive a telephone call, please leave the classroom to converse (please note you are still responsible for any material covered while you are not in the classroom).  During exams the use of cell phone is strictly prohibited.  In case of an emergency, you may leave your cell phone with the instructor during the exam.  She will happily answer your telephone call and connect you with your party as appropriate.

Expectations and Grading. Professional practice requires the ability to formulate critical data and analysis questions about one’s experiences and reading; to recognize information gaps and determine the data and analysis needed to solve a problem; to make keen observations of behavior and events; to make effective assessments for charting a course of action; and to evaluate the outcome.  These are all part of the process of critical thinking.  This requires that each student takes a mentally active stance and takes responsibility for their own learning.  It is important that each student question their own and other’s assumptions and viewpoints, and, to take initiative in all aspects of the progress of the course.

Grading will be based on the following:

Small Community Description 20%
Small Community Analysis Paper and Presentation          60%
Class participation and attendance 20%

 B constitutes the norm in grading, with A grade reserved for consistent work of exceptionally high standard.

Course sessions will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m.  If possible, field trips will leave earlier.  There will be a nightly sign-in sheet.  Latecomers will be docked a point.

No excused absences without extenuating circumstances.

Course Feedback:

A short course evaluation will occur during session 5 to provide feedback to the instructors, for making sure student interests are met in the course, and for identifying any matters that need correction or special attention.  The University’s regular evaluation of teaching procedure will also be followed.

University/School Policies:

Americans with Disabilities Act:  If any student has a disability and requires special accommodations, let the instructor know as soon as possible that you have registered with the Office of Disability Resources (216 William Pitt Union; (412) 648-7890/(TTY) (412) 383-7355).  Reasonable accommodations will then be made to ensure you have a fair opportunity to perform in class.

Nondiscrimination:  The University prohibits and will not engage in discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era.

Academic Integrity:  Students are expected to follow the Student Code of Conduct established by the University and the Academic Integrity Policy of the School of Social Work, which is described in the Student Handbook.

Religious Holidays:  If you need to miss class due to religious observances, notify the instructor in advance to make alternative arrangements.


Spring 2004    Tuesday 5:30 – 8:30pm




1     January 6, 2004


  • Introductions
  • Review of seminar purpose, requirements and schedule
  • Introduction: Organizing for Community Controlled Development
  • Organizing and Preparing for Community Analysis Fieldwork

Murphy/Cunningham Preface, Ch. 1

Temali Ch. 1


2     January 13, 2004

  •  Setting the Context
          - Economic Inequity
          - Racism/White Privilege
          - Segregation by Choice
          - Individual, Family and
            Community Stressors

Commission on Children at Risk



Additional selected required readings.

3     January 20, 2004

  • Community Power 
  • CDCs

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 2-3

4     January 27, 2004

  •  The Small Community

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 4

5     February 3, 2004


  • Community Organizing
  • Participation

          Class Evaluation

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 5-6

Temali Ch. 2

6     February 10, 2004

  •  Case Study: Aliquippa

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 7

7     February 17, 2004

  • Organizational Planning
  • Community Planning
  • Progress review and discussion – Community Description

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 8-9

Temali Ch. 3

8     February 24, 2004

  • Social Strength
  • Taping Resources

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 10-11


      March 2, 2004


Spring Break

9    March 9, 2004


  • Neighborhood Preservation/Housing
  • Review of Community Descriptions and Paper Outlines

Murphy/Cunningham Ch.12

Assignments due

  • Small Community Description – history, demographics, assessment of social, political, economic dimensions
  • Detailed outline of final paper

10    March 16, 2004

  • Capital Formation

Murphy/Cunningham Ch.13

11    March 23, 2004


  • Business District Renewal

Murphy/Cunningham Ch.14

Temali Ch. 4-5

12    March 30, 2004

  • Workforce Development
  • Job Creation

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 15

Temali 6-7

13    April 6, 2004

  • Review of OCCD model and components


14    April 13, 2004

  • Research Presentations

Assignment Due: Small Community Analysis Paper

15    April 20, 2004




  • Research Presentations
  • The Promise of Coalition Politics
  • Wrap-up

Murphy/Cunningham Ch. 16

Feagin, Ch. 6, 8

Selected additional required readings.



This hands-on project includes three interrelated parts:

  1. Development of a Small, Place-based Community Description
  2. Preparation of a Community Analysis
  3. Presentation of Findings

The community description counts for 20% of the seminar grade; the community analysis and presentation count for a combined 60% of the seminar grade.

We will look for a balance of original research, library research, and web research. Ideas for information gathering include: community visits, walk-abouts, and interviews with residents, other community stakeholders and knowledgeable outside people; review and analysis of media and PR information; attendance at community events and meetings; review an analysis of organizational and/or community studies and plans, literature reviews, etc. In addition participants may draw from the seminar texts, and other published material (books, articles, studies, etc.).

Some class time will be allotted for project discussion and development of next steps. Participants are encouraged to bring information, ideas and questions from the field research into seminar discussions.

1.         Development of a Community Description                Due: March 9, 2004

For the selected small, place-based community, prepare a community description to include the following elements:

Maximum 15 double-spaced page paper plus bibliography. Please use 12 point font.

2.         Preparation of a Community Analysis                Due: April 13, 2004

The community analysis should build on the community description. This paper will examine, analyze and assess local, indigenous efforts to 1) build and sustain organizational capacity for community change, and, 2) select and implement community development strategies. Recommendations for current and future activities should also be detailed. Your personal opinions are important but should be labeled as such. Note: A detailed outline of this paper is due March 9, 2004

Maximum 25 double-spaced page paper plus bibliography. Please use 12 point font.

3.         Presentation of Findings

Presentations will be scheduled for the last two seminar sessions April 13 and 20,2004.  Each participant will be allotted 30 minutes to present their findings, generate discussion and field questions. Details for the presentation content/format will be discussed/reviewed in late March.