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Urban and Public Affairs

URPA 5320

Theory of Public Organization and Development

This class has two main components—theoretical and practical. From a practical standpoint, we will engage in a community-based project, whereby we will work alongside the residents of Town North to build a nonprofit organization designed to improve their community. This project is one case in the larger movement towards citizen participatory models of governance.

Service-Learning Project: Reflecting on Conceptions of Citizenship.

Theoretically, we will study the historical evolution of administrative theory, including classical, sociological, and social-psychological dimensions; decision-making theory; implications of public interest theory for public management; basic concepts of organization development and impact on public administration paradigms; new public administration; and the future of public urban organizations. The central focus of the course and the related readings is the relationship between public organizations, the administrators within those organizations, and citizens.

Students connect the practical with the theoretical. In interactions with the community and the residents of Town North, students will be asked not only to work with the residents to create a sustainable organization capable of fostering change in their community, but to consider the broader implications of citizen participatory models of governance on the future of public urban organizations, from an organizational perspective.

The Town North Neighborhood has been designated by the City of Arlington as a target neighborhood for the Building Equitable Communities (BEC) Program. The City of Arlington was chosen by National League of Cities (NLC) as one of four cities to participate in Building Equitable Communities (BEC) Program. The BEC program is a component of the larger Stimulating Municipal Action to Reduce Poverty Project undertaken by the National League of Cities, supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The Arlington team chose to include four strategic approaches in their equity agenda: data-driven, collaborative/partnership, participatory governance and market-based/targeted investment as well as identifying several community-wide capacities for employing those strategic approaches. The objective for this service- learning project is to work closely with the residents in the Town North Neighborhood to identify a vision for their community and establish a list of priorities necessary to achieve that vision, to learn from the residents and their community, and to reflect on the implications of this experience on our understanding of public organization.