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Summer 2005

SOA works with schools and colleges to develop new Master of Community Development

Beginning this fall, University of Detroit Mercy students will have the opportunity to earn a new degree and graduate with the knowledge to lead and serve in their community.

UDM has developed a new community development program, the first of its kind in the nation, teaching the theory and practice of building sustainable communities. The Master of Community Development (MCD) is a unique, interdisciplinary program, integrating human organizational, physical and economic development into its core curriculum.

Under the guidance of UDM's School of Architecture Dean Stephen Vogel, the new Master of Community Development combines the academic talents of faculty from several of UDM's colleges and schools, directly responding to the institution's mission and vision. Currently, professors in Architecture, Business, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Counseling and Addiction Studies, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Religious Studies and Education have contributed to the 36-credit degree program.

The program mirrors University of Detroit Mercy's mission statement in "seeking to integrate the intellectual, spiritual, ethical and social development of students" and the vision statement that UDM will be "distinguished by graduates who lead and serve in their communities."

"In my many years working with community organization in metropolitan Detroit, I have heard time and again about the need for a degree program in developing viable neighborhoods," said Vogel. "The Master of Community Development program comes from the grass roots of the community and is an outstanding illustration of the partnership between institutions of higher learning and civic organizations."

The University program was developed after Vogel held a series of focus group discussions with community organizations, real estate developers and members of the community. The purpose of the meetings were to explore the concept of UDM providing a certificate or degree program in community development that would be an interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach to stabilizing and/or rebuilding urban neighborhoods. All of the participants surveyed, agreed that a comprehensive educational approach was needed and UDM should consider a master's degree program. In the discussions, many felt that the program would be ideal for staff from community development corporations, neighborhood organizations, real estate development corporations and the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department who all, typically, hold an undergraduate degree.

The Master of Community Development curriculum has four basic components:

  1. Introduction to Community Development program - 3 credit hours (with service learning component)
  2. Core Curriculum of team-taught modules - 16 credit hours
    Economic Development; Human Development, Physical Development; Organizational Development; Cultural, Social and Human Diversity; Environmental, Social and Economic Justice; Regional Influences and Trends; Global Influences and Trends
  3. Concentration in One of Four Areas (electives) - 12 credit hours
    Human Development Concentration, Economic Development Concentration, Physical Development Concentration, Organizational Development Concentration
  4. Capstone Project - 5 credit hours (Interdisciplinary Teams)
    The Master of Community Development is supported in part by a two-year 3M Foundation Vision Grant. These grants are designed to foster innovation in private colleges by supporting new, academically-based initiatives that fundamentally transform the basis of learning.

Graduates of the MCD program will be recognized as experts in sustainable community development and may create and/or manage community-based organizations and initiatives, real estate development, social service or education programs. Their experiences and degree may also advance graduates to leadership roles as a director, manager or supervisor of the business.