Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2.5 hours / session

Course Description

In the wake of Katrina the entire gulf coast is embroiled in a struggle over what constitutes "appropriate" rebuilding and redevelopment efforts. This practicum will engage students in a set of workgroups designed to assist local community based institutions and people in shaping the policy and practices that will guide the redevelopment and rebuilding efforts in the city of New Orleans. The client group for the practicum is a collection of several local and national organizations. The course will be organized around thematic workgroups that correspond with three work areas identified by the client group. These workgroups are Housing (reconstruction), Workforce, and Environment. It is anticipated that some participants in the class will go to New Orleans during the spring break and on selected weekends throughout the term.

The Katrina Practicum brings together faculty from three areas of expertise - housing, environment, and reflective practice - to guide students through a hands-on learning process in which they will help the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans address issues of rebuilding post-Hurricane Katrina, specifically around housing and environmental rehabilitation. The course is loosely broken into four parts: Background Research/Problem Definition, Problem Refinement/Charrette Planning, Charette, Additional Research/Production of Final Product. During this time students will meet with community representatives visiting the class, and contact additional representatives via phone and email in order to conduct research and get feedback on their work. A 10-day site visit has been scheduled to allow students to develop stronger relationships with their client, present their research and facilitate a discussion between the two client groups about their projects.

In addition to the main project work, students will be asked to reflect on the issues of race and class that Katrina exposed. The Tremé neighborhood is a historically poor, black area in New Orleans. It was once the site of an important industrial area along a canal that has since closed. During the 1960s and 1970s it was torn apart by urban renewal when a highway was sited through its center. Yet the neighborhood has maintained a strong identity and character within the city. As students begin to engage with residents, experience first-hand the extent of Katrina's devastation, and observe the inequities in recovery efforts, they will be asked to perform exercises in reflection to keep their own biases and assumptions in check, but also to help them process this experience and learn from it how to better serve the public as planners.

Course Requirements

Students are required to complete a series of reflection exercises. These exercises will allow students to evaluate their relationships with their community partners, their effectiveness in working with the partners, and their satisfaction with the overall experience. Students are also required to complete background readings on New Orleans and come to class prepared to discuss the relevance of the community's history to the work of the class. In addition, students are responsible for forming into self-led work groups that independently define the problems they will address and generate final projects that address those problems.