11.945 | Fall 2005 | Graduate

Springfield Studio


As a practicum course, the class developed over the course of the semester in response to student analysis and client feedback. The following schedule captures the original scaffolding on which the course was built, and includes all of the elements that students had an opportunity to pursue over the course of the semester. As studnets learned more about the North End community, they chose to emphasize some of the economic development techniques over others, and they used some of the lecture sessions as work time, consulting with faculty when they had specific questions about the models presented at the beginning of the semester. Most of the students also scheduled site visits on a more regular basis than the once-a-month required trips.

This course is broken down into regularly numbered sessions and 4 scheduled field trips (FT), designated FT1, FT2, FT3, FT4.


Course Introduction

This class introduces the North End Neighborhood, the Campus Committee client and the course project and approach. The issues facing the North End of Springfield are introduced and discussed. A video offering background on Springfield will be viewed.


Background on North End Community

This class will provide a more in-depth introduction to the North End Community through reading and discussing background reports and materials from a variety of sources. Class discussion will focus on what was learned about the North End and its economic development from this “paper” review, how it might be biased based on the source and the limitations of what we learned.

Written assignment due.

Economic Development Theories: Neighborhoods as Economic Units

To provide a theoretical foundation for our work, this class will review literature on regions as economic units, the relationship between regional and neighborhood economic development and theories that seek to explain why and how economies develop.


Field Trip to the North End, Springfield, Massachusetts

The class will leave Friday for an all-day field trip (8 am - 6 pm) to the North End of Springfield. The class will visit with the client, take a walking tour of the community, meet with selected stakeholders, and record first impressions. Time will be reserved toward the end of the day on Friday for the class to discuss first impressions and to prepare a preliminary list of goals, challenges, opportunities and possible interventions.


Review/Discussion of North End Field Trip Project Resources and Work Plan

The class will pin-up materials collected during the field trip, including photos, lists of first impressions, and the preliminary list of economic development issues, challenges and opportunities. Class discussion will focus on any differences between what was observed during the field visit versus the impressions taken from the background reports. We will also discuss what information is needed for the first phase of the project, how our existing information matches these needs, information gaps and how to address them. A review will also be made of the resources available to the class and protocols established for working with and sharing digital files. Class time will also be devoted to our organization and work plan for the first project phase.


Regional Context: Greater Springfield Economy

The class will focus on the regional economic context for the North End and how it affects the neighborhood’s economic development agenda. Class discussion will focus on three issues: (1) what are the key regional economic conditions; (2) how do they impact the North End’s economic development strategy and agenda; and (3) what regional organizations and programs might be resources to support the North End plan?

Each student will prepare a two page summary of the major problems and challenges for the North End and key opportunities and potentials that emerge from their reading of these regional studies.

Springfield Political Context

This class is devoted to discussing the current political environment in Springfield and the North End, including state financial control, North End-city relationships, and the impact of political corruption. Be prepared to discuss how these situations impact our work in Springfield and their implications for North End economic development.


Work Session

In this work session, we will review the economic development proposals identified by the Campus Committee, discuss any overlooked ideas or initiatives and the criteria and approach for evaluating them. Next, the work plan to complete this evaluation and summarize the findings over the next two weeks will be developed.


Analytical Tools to Support Evaluation: Economic Development Analysis Refection Tools

Several analytical approaches that are useful in identifying and evaluating economic and community development opportunities will be reviewed. Tools covered will include economic structure and performance analysis, market analysis, resource analysis and critical moment reflection. We will discuss the relevance of these tools to specific proposals and how they can be applied to the class project.


Work Session

This work session will be devoted to reviewing progress in scoping out economic development proposals, outlining a “pathway of change” for each proposal, collecting the information needed to evaluate each proposal, and preliminary observations or findings.


Work Session (cont.)

This session will continue work in evaluating the North End economic development proposals.


Work Session: Review of Preliminary Finding

Pin-up and review of preliminary findings and recommendations from the evaluation of the economic development proposals to be followed by a discussion of next steps to complete/update the analysis.


Review of Findings/Draft Presentation

Students will make a presentation on Phase I analysis findings. This presentation will serve as a “dry run” for the client presentations later in the week.

Client presentations of Phase 1 will take place during this week either on a Thursday evening or Friday trip to Springfield.

Draft presentation due.

Client Meeting

Students will present and discuss their findings and recommendations with the Campus Committee and decide on the priorities/focus for economic development plan.

Client presentation due.

Reflection on Client Meeting and Decisions; Organization of Next Work Phase

This class will begin with a short recap of client feedback followed by reflection on the process and outcome from the client meeting and its implications for the next phase of work. This information will then be used to define key goals and scope for phase two. Finally, the class will be organized into teams with specific assignments to undertake the Phase Two scope.


ED Policies and Practices: Enterprise and Small Business Development

This class provides an overview of the issues and interventions used to foster entrepreneurs and grow businesses in a community and to leverage neighborhood benefits from these firms. After this review, we will discuss the suitability of these approaches to the North End agenda, how they could be applied, and information needed to formulate related plans.


ED Policies and Practices: Workforce Development / Work Plan Review

Strategies and services to expand resident access to jobs and to support advancement into living wage jobs and careers will be summarized. The review will be followed by a discussion of the suitability of these approaches to North End agenda, how they could be applied, and information needed to formulate related plans.


Work Session

This session will be devoted to work group meetings including site visits to conduct local research.


Application of Models; Preliminary Ideas; Critical Moments Training

Students will continue to consolidate results from the Phase Two work and begin to outline content and organization of proposals, including goals, strategy, activities, required resources and relationships, how it can be implemented.


ED Policies and Practices: Real Estate Development Commercial District Improvement / Resource / Partnership Results; Strategy Implications

In this session we’ll examine the special issues, policies and practices related to real estate development and commercial district revitalization as community economic development vehicles. The potential application of these approaches to North End agenda will be discussed, including the specific activities and projects to undertake, how they might be implemented, and information needs to formulate related plans.


ED Policies and Practices: Capital Market and Financing / Community Reflection Results and Strategy Implications

This class provides an overview of the issues and models to community capital availability for economic development. After this review, we will discuss the application of the financing tools to North End agenda, including which models are best suited to local goals, and how they might be applied and implemented and information needs to formulate related plans.


Work Session: Formulating and Detailing Proposals, Strategy Statement, and Plan Components

This working session marks the beginning of moving from the research phase into the planning phase with the formulation of specific proposals and recommendations. Any differences or decisions on key issues or plan strategies/components will be addressed first. Teams then will work on developing plans in greater detail.


Work Session: Plan Formulation and Refinement

This working session will seek to identify links between elements of the plan, discuss implementation strategies and requirements, and discuss the key themes with which to frame the recommendations.


Work Session: Preparing for Client Meeting

The goal of this session is to prepare for presenting a “work in progress plan” to the Campus Committee for their feedback. Students will briefly (30 minutes) review their proposals and recommendations - including their organization and content. After feedback and discussion, revisions will be made to the plan content and summary.


Meeting with Campus Committee to Discuss Initial Proposals

An informal working meeting will be held with the Campus Committee (and any invited guests) to present and discuss the preliminary plan.


Review/Feedback on Initial Plans

Students will have 30 to 45 minutes to present the case for and key strategies and elements of their plan. Discussion will offer feedback on the coherence and content of the recommendations and the clarity and effectiveness of the information and graphics used.


Work Session: Finalize Plan

Students will work on finalizing their plan, incorporating feedback from the Campus Committee and instructors.


Trial Run of Plan Presentation

A 45 minute trial run of the final plan presentation will be made to instructors and invited guests. Discussion will provide feedback on presentation style and organization, plan content and the clarity and effectiveness of the information and graphics used.

Draft of final plan presentation due.

Presentation/Discussion of Final Plan with Campus Committee

A final presentation of the proposed plan will be made to the Campus Committee and an invited audience.

Final plan presentation due.

Course Conclusion and Reflections

A discussion of the working process, areas of frustration, and lessons learned will seek to contribute to the students’ experience with reflective planning practice.

27 Final Class Three copies of the final report/plans are due

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2005
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Image Gallery
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments with Examples
Projects with Examples