When people read that St. Cloud State University, aka SCSU, is offering a degree in Community Development, it’s likely that they’d have a positive image of the program. They shouldn’t, at least if they’re thoughtful people. Here’s an excerpt from the degree description:
Planning and Community Development is a dynamic field of study that strives to improve the social, economic, and environmental qualities in our communities. It focuses on the design and implementation of programs designed to make a community a better place to live and work. Working to enhance a sense of place and sense of community is central to this field, as are the principles of sustainable development, social and environmental justice.
In other words, the degree is predicated on the principle of progressive indoctrination.That’s the only ideology that puts “sustainable development, social and environmental justice” at the core of city planning.
As bad as that is, it gets worse:
Planning and Community Development integrates the following key elements:
- The characteristics of rural, suburban, and urban communities, emphasizing their heritage, built and natural environments, economic and social conditions, and cultural features;
- The issues confronting communities, such as suburban sprawl, affordable housing, downtown revitalization, environmental quality, social justice, traffic congestion, aging populations, neighborhood cohesion, and heritage preservation, to name but a few;
- Strategies to address these community issues, which can combine aspects of community organization and partnerships, urban and regional planning, citizen participation, community design, economic development, advocacy, and sustainable development.
What thinking person thinks that social justice is important to city planning? Do thinking people think that social justice is important to city planning?
Here’s the description for affordable housing:
Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed “affordable” to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the concept is applicable to both renters and purchasers in all income ranges.
It’s fair to ask what policy tools are at a state’s or city’s avail. Here’s a brief list:
Numerous policies in the U.S. and abroad have been designed to address the problem of inadequate supplies of affordable housing. Sophisticated secondary market mechanisms, inclusionary zoning and land banking are three prominent tools, as well as tax and fiscal policies that result in reducing the cost of mortgages and the cost of borrowing.
“Reducing the cost of mortgages and the cost of borrowing” sounds alot like a system of government subsidies.
Notice that “advocacy” to be an important feature of this degree program. That’s nothing more than a focus group-tested euphemism. Real people think of advocacy as lobbying.
By now, you’re likely thinking that there isn’t alot of private sector demand for these skills. You’re right and this list proves it:
Graduates of this program are well prepared to help communities in a number of important areas, including:
- City and regional planning
- Community preservation and design
- Local economic development
- Sustainable development
- Neighborhood/community organization
- Downtown development
- Environmental management
- Transportation planning
- Human/social services
- Community economic development
In other words, this degree is state-funded training for the next generation of dues-paying AFSCME members.
Is that money well spent?