|Enhancing community economic development practice: the role of an adult degree program|
Michael Eliot Swack
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: adult education, Bachelor of liberal studies, Community development, Graduate work, research, Study and teaching (Higher), United States, Universities and colleges
ENHANCING COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE: THE ROLE OF AN ADULT DEGREE PROGRAM
Michael Eliot Swack
Community economic development (CED) organizations, which include organizations such as community development corporations (CDCs), housing development organizations, community land trusts, cooperatives and community action agencies, often struggle due to a lack of appropriately skilled staffing. This study examined whether and how an adult degree program can facilitate the effectiveness of CED practitioners through a case study analysis of the CED Program at New Hampshire College. The CED Program is a masterĘs degree program designed for adult community development practitioners.
The research approach used in this study was primarily qualitative in nature. The major tool used in assessing the effectiveness of the program was extensive interviews with 21 practitioner/graduates of the program, who were asked to assess the effectiveness of the program with respect to their own professional practice.
The literature review defines the field of community economic development (CED) in the United States, identifies it within the larger field of community development and compares CED to traditional social welfare and economic development policies. The literature review also examines leadership development, adult learning and program development in adult education within the context of community development.
The study concludes that the major strengths of the program include: its learner-centered philosophy and practice; the teaching of technical skills with an emphasis on values, commitment and community empowerment; the relevance of the curriculum to CED practice; and, the diversity of the student body including the related peer learning and support that occurs within the student group. Weaknesses of the program include: insufficient support for the student project requirement; in class problems related to the different skill and experience levels of the students; and, the perception of inadequate follow-up by the program after graduation.
Recommendations include: improving support for the student project requirement by devoting greater time and resources to it; developing special tracks and seminars to accommodate practitioners of varying skill levels; developing a leadership development component for the program; and, improving alumni follow-up through the implementation of a computer network/database.