Economic Development and Community Sustainability
This course explores the dynamics of healthy local communities by investigating challenges to long-term persistence in place, and threats to local economic, social, and ecological vitality. Students learn concepts in economic development and community sustainability through problem-solving activities, which require mastery of quantitative and qualitative social science research methods and demonstration of effective communication and presentation strategies. The course is intended to develop practical skills and academic competencies for advanced work in the Heuristics, Design and Technology program.
At the completion of the course, students will be able to:
• identify factors critical to sustaining healthy, vibrant communities
• understand local communities from several disciplinary vantage points, including economics, sociology, political science, and ecology
• explain the interrelationships among divergent components of a complex system
• utilize problem-solving techniques in identifying and diagnosing problems in inefficiently-functioning systems
• evaluate proposed alternatives to addressing a critical community issue
• gather research and present findings in a creative and effective manner
Learn to create effective visual models that tell stories with data.
• incorporate multiple information resources in different media or languages in projects, papers, or performances, with appropriate citations; and evaluate the relative merits of competing resources with respect to the clearly articulated standards.
• translate verbal problems into mathematical algorithms, construct valid arguments using the accepted symbolic system of mathematical reasoning, and perform accurate calculations, estimates, risk analyses, or quantitative evaluations of public information through presentations, papers, or projects.
• construct sustained, coherent arguments or presentations on technical issues or processes in more than one language and in more than one medium for general and specific audiences; and work through collaboration to address a social, personal, or ethical dilemma.
Creative and Critical Thinking
Good ideas make our lives better; bad ideas can waste our time or even harm us. Insofar as that’s true for anyone, then anyone — whether he or she is interested in making money, raising a family, developing a training regimen, running a ministry, producing a film, practicing medicine, designing an computer app, leading worship, teaching a class, planning a wedding, marketing a product, conducting research, building a bridge, plotting a garden, plotting a novel, assessing risk in uncertain conditions—is welcome here.
One of our goals during the semester is to understand the way our minds work, especially with regard to the creative and reasoning processes. However, the primary goal of this course will be realized when we apply our learning to particular domains of our lives. By the end of the course, therefore, you should become more adept at generating new ideas, innovating old ones, vetting arguments, identifying fallacies and cognitive biases, and making deliberative judgments.
By the end of the course, each student will . . .
• construct a summative project that draws on current research, scholarship, and practice in the field.
• identify and evaluate approaches to complex standard and non-standard ideas within the field;
• present a paper, performance, or other appropriate task linking knowledge and skills from work or community with knowledge acquired in academic disciplines; explain how elements were combined to shape meaning or findings; and show the relationship to relevant scholarship;
• complete a field-based assignment in the course of study that employs insights from others; evaluate a significant question in relation to concepts, methods, or assumptions in at least one academic field; explain the implications of learning outside the classroom.