Sustainable Development in the Urban Region:
A Focus on Economic Revitalization

Study at a Foreign Institution
City and Regional Planning 697(6 credit hours)
International Studies 697 (6 credit hours)

Jennifer Evans-Cowley
Ohio State University
City and Regional Planning
Knowlton School of Architecture

Columbus, Ohio, USA

Spring 2003
More Columbus-Dresden syllabi

Overview | Books | Assignments | Class Schedule

  • Jennifer Evans-Cowley (Ohio State University)

  • Dr. Bernhard Mueller (Technical University, Dresden, Germany)
    Dr. Olaf Schmidt (Technical University, Dresden, Germany)
    Dr. Thorsten Wiechmann (Technical University, Dresden, Germany)

  • and with the assistance from
  • The Planning Departments of the City of Dresden,
    and the City of Columbus

Course Home Page:

Discussion Topics | Classes | Trip and Return Visit | Important Notes

Professor Bernhard Müller at the Technical University in Dresden (TUD) and Professor Jennifer Evans-Cowley at the Ohio State University (OSU) will teach joint seminars on Economic Redevelopment in Germany and the US during the spring term of 2003. The classes will include reading, field work and cooperative work with professional planners in both countries.

The OSU course, taught by Professor Evans-Cowley, will be a seminar/discussion class with a small number of students (we are aiming for approximately 12 students in each country). We will make use of guest speakers and other faculty members from both countries as much as possible. Students will work in small groups on papers, and in different small groups on field projects. Each group will contain students from both countries. We will work jointly with the German class during the spring quarter via electronic-mail, fax, the world wide web, and video conferencing. Video conferencing is available for small group and individual use as well as classroom use. At the end of the quarter we plan to have all of the OSU students go to Dresden for two weeks to complete the group projects and do one of the field analyses (the German class will still be in session at that time). I will offer CRP 697: "Study at a Foreign Institution" during the second term of summer quarter, and the German students will join us in Columbus for the last two weeks of that class in order to undertake field work in Columbus.

We would like to encourage a broad interdisciplinary mix of students and welcome participation from those with many different backgrounds. For students at OSU, the only requirements are graduate standing or permission of the instructor, the ability to go to Dresden for at least two or three weeks after spring quarter finals, and availability to help with the visit of the TUD students in August of 2003. Knowledge of German will not be required – readings will be in English and our colleagues in Dresden will be able to work with us in English. Previous classes in planning or in economic development will not be required. If more students want to take the joint seminar than space permits, selection will be made on the basis of the formal requirements, followed by the student’s background and ability to contribute to the class (including enthusiasm for the topic). We are searching for funds to help defray student expenses, but students will probably have to pay for at least the airfare. Last summer, students from OSU visited Dresden for two weeks for the cost of airfare and incidentals. We were able to cover room (in a bed and breakfast), most meals, ground transportation, and most admission fees.

Class readings and discussion will revolve around a variety of issues. These include:
  • planning systems at the national, state, and local levels;
  • the tasks and functions of these levels especially as related to regional problems and solutions;
  • social issues arising from regional growth; and
  • environmental issues and the financial issues involved.
Student groups will work on topics such as:
  • downtown redevelopment,
  • small town development,
  • brownfields,
  • economic development policies, and
  • intergovernmental cooperation.
For each of these topics the groups will address questions about the need (if any) for governmental action, the kinds of action needed, the pros and cons of governmental action, and proposals for action within the constraints of the two national systems.

We will explore as many of the salient governmental strategies as possible, including (but not limited to) growth boundaries, tax increment financing, public-private partnerships, revenue sharing, land use planning, environmental remediation, and so on.

During the first ten weeks (before we travel to Germany) students will
  • read extensively,
  • work with their groups to define their topics and base information and
  • write background papers on those topics for their own country.

In Dresden we will work and travel together as a class (last year we visited Berlin, Leipzig, the Saxon Switzerland, Poland, the Czech Republic and many places in and around Dresden). Students will also work on small group focused field projects with their German colleagues. These projects will culminate in poster presentations.

When the German students visit Columbus we will undertake a similar schedule including the small group field projects and poster presentations. The schedule includes:
  • a weekend in Detroit,
  • tour of the Arena District and Penn West,
  • tour of the Gahanna Creekside Project,
  • a visit to Newark and Dresden Ohio,
  • talks from Columbus Planners,
  • a tour of the University Gateway project,
  • and many other activities.
In previous years, the local poster projects in central Ohio examined Campus Partners’ plans, the Morse-Bethel Connector, residential development near a landfill in Delaware County, Gahanna’s plans for riverfront development, and the problems of inner suburban areas. For 2003, we will undertake different projects, but these give some idea of our activities.

For more background information on Columbus and Dresden, see:

Americanization of German Cities: Case Studies in Housing (1998)
Details of the 2003 assignments and activities are still under discussion. There will be an application process for the class, run through the International Studies Office. Please keep checking our web site for more details on what we did last year, for the date of an upcoming background meeting, and for information on next year’s class as we continue to develop it:

This year's Dresden exchange seminar will focus on Sustainable Development in the Urban Region: A Focus on Revitalization - An investigation of economic redevelopment issues in Columbus, Ohio and Dresden, Germany. The idea is to study development problems that arise as development and employment change. Our work will begin with discussions and readings about the kinds of problems that impede a livable environment. This means focusing on the land use changes and the forces initiating such changes. We will then look at solutions to problems in the American context.

  • The U.S. has a modern tradition of providing economic development incentives in order to accommodate growth in employment; we have grown outward rather than focusing on opportunities in the urban core. In so doing, many agricultural and natural areas have been devoured in favor of subdivisions, strip malls, and highways.

  • The German development tradition has been historically different, though some sprawl development has begun on the outskirts of urban areas. Eastern Germany experienced closures of industries during reunification and is seeking out opportunities to bring new businesses into the community. Issues of how to keep downtown areas active remain critical as well, especially for urban residents, the elderly, the poor, the young, and those lacking personal automobiles.

  • Finally, we will consider environmental impacts associated with commercial and industrial development. We want to explore the relationships that cities in the U.S. and Germany have in order to promote regional sustainable development. In so doing, we will examine various innovative approaches that have been employed such as revenue sharing, growth boundaries, tax increment financing, as well as policy considerations of American zoning and German regional planning.

We have the unusual opportunity of working electronically with a seminar at the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) during the quarter and then completing our work in the field by visiting Dresden in June and hosting our German colleagues in Columbus in late July/early August. The class will be conducted in English or, when German is necessary, with a translator.

During the quarter we will also try to prepare everyone as much as possible for the trip to Dresden, so class time will also be spent discussing readings on Germany and the German planning system, as well as familiarizing everyone with Dresden and its surroundings.

The course is international in scope and, though we are in our 7th year, it remains somewhat experimental in nature. Consequently we need to be as flexible as possible to take advantage of opportunities or to work around problems as they arise. This syllabus describes my best estimate of our situation. Please feel free to suggest changes or other ways of doing things.

During spring quarter, the class will meet at least once a week. We are scheduled to meet in Brown Hall 270 at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. We may need to discuss changing the time or meeting at a different time each week to accommodate all class members. In past years, the class discovered that one day a week wasn't really enough time for the discussions and material we wanted to cover, so additional class meetings may be scheduled as necessary. At least once during the quarter I would like to have a social gathering at my home, and we may also decide to have some class meetings there. Class meetings will usually involve discussion and short presentations from myself and class members. The discussions will focus on readings, questions, and concerns from class members in either country.

After spring quarter is over, we will travel to Dresden for two weeks of intensive field work. The field work might involve visiting developments; interviewing planning officials, developers, etc.; collecting data; doing survey work...and lots of other things. Unless specifically arranged with the instructor, students are expected to make the trip with us and to remain with the group for those two weeks undertaking all of the activities that our hosts plan for us.

Beginning the last week in July, the TUD students will come to Columbus for field work here. I hope that everyone will be able and willing to participate actively for the two weeks they will be here. If you are working, try to arrange your schedules so that you will have time to attend our events (all day every day for two weeks). I will offer CRP 697 in the second term of summer quarter so that you can get course credit for strong participation (see details below) with the German students' visit.

1. To take this class, you should be signed up for six (6) hours of International Studies 697. When grades are assigned, this will change to six (6) hours of CRP 697. Jane Palmer (e-mail: or phone: 2-6101) is our international studies coordinator.

2. Before we go to Germany, I will ask everyone to meet with me individually. Please let me know about any special situations/conditions of which I need to be aware. For example, I need to know about chronic conditions like diabetes, fear of heights, claustrophobia, etc., in order to help arrange things so you can cope. Additionally, if you have specific tools that you need, like contact lenses or hearing aids, I need to know in case of emergencies. In general, I need to be aware of any special circumstances in order to make sure things go as smoothly and safely as possible. I will be passing out a sheet with specific questions for you to fill out later in the term.

3. Check your final exam schedule now. Then get your travel plans made as early as possible. You must be in Dresden and ready to start by 8 a.m. on Tuesday, June 17, 2003. I suggest you get there earlier if at all possible. We will need to know your travel plans early enough to get room reservations set up. Everyone will need a passport. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may also need visas --- be prepared to go to Germany and the Czech Republic at least.

4. Pay close attention all through the quarter for announcements, changes, information on what to take along, and a myriad of other things. Try to stay pretty flexible and prepared to roll with the punches.


Grading | Group Projects | Posters | Individual Journals | Surveys | Participation

Grading for this class is based on three deliverables – the paper (group project), journal, and poster – as well as on class participation. Please note that participation is a substantial part of the grade.

35% - Group Project
10% - Posters
15% - Individual Journal
40% - Participation

Letter grades will be based on the following scale:

A >93%; A- 90-93%; B+ 87-89%; B 84-86%; B- 80-83%; and so on.

Numerical grades will be rounded, not truncated, with values ?.5 rounding up. Assignments are graded based on a “meeting expectations” value of a B+.

Each class member will be part of a cross-national team for a group project. Depending on the size of the two classes, there may be more than two members of each class in each group. During the first ten weeks (before we travel to Germany) students will read extensively, work with their groups to write background papers and undertake a variety of small assignments. Some of those assignments will require that the U.S. students get information from their German colleagues and vice versa.

Each group will focus on one of six topics. All of these topics will need to be more narrowly defined by the group.

  1. Land Use Change
    How has the change in land use in communities affected economic sustainability? Identify a neighborhood/development area and explore the land use changes. How have these changes been effective or ineffective in promoting economic sustainability? Why is the area experiencing redevelopment? What are the driving forces of change?

  2. Brownfield Revelopment
    What policy tools are available in Germany and the US to redevelop brownfields? Select a specific brownfield redevelopment project in an industrial area for a case study.

  3. Downtown Redevelopment in Columbus and Dresden
    What policy tools are available in Germany and the US to redevelop downtowns? Identify a redevelopment project in a downtown area. Why does the area need to be redeveloped? What plans are in place and what are the planned outcomes?

  4. Downtown Redevelopment in Small Towns
    What policy tools are available in Germany and the US to redevelop small towns? Identify a small town or suburb and look at a specific redevelopment project. Why does the area need to be redeveloped? What plans are in place and what are the planned outcomes?

  5. Economic Development Policies
    How do US and German cities differ in their recruitment of industry to particular areas? Identify an economic development project and explore what policies/programs were used to recruit that business to a particular area.

  6. Intergovernmental Cooperation/Regional Governance
    What types of relationships have been formed to allow the region to be economically successful? Identify an example of intergovernmental cooperation in redevelopment.

For each question, you and your German counterparts will have to narrow the focus of the question and decide what you will concentrate on for each country. During the ten week seminar you will write a background paper on the U.S. and your German colleagues will write one on Germany.

The due date for your first draft is May 13, 2003. I will return them to you by May 21 and you will rewrite them by June 4. Each paper must be presented in both hard copy and electronic form. On June 4, you will e-mail the papers to Germany and you will e-mail a copy to me as well. The draft of the final paper from each group will be due on October 10, 2003. This paper will use the original two background papers (one from the U.S. and one from Germany) as the base, but continues the discussion to examine various possible solutions to the problems and issues you identified and to discuss their positive and negative points. The due date for the final rewrite will depend on when I get my comments to you, but I hope it will not be later than November 11, 2003.

NOTE: Everyone will be assigned an incomplete until these papers are turned in and rewritten if requested.

During the two weeks we are in Dresden and the two weeks the German students are in Columbus, you will work in small groups to study a specific problem at a specific site in each city. The outcome of this study will be two posters, one presented at the end of the two weeks in Dresden on the German study and one presented at the end of the two weeks in Columbus on a local study.

Everyone in class will keep a journal for the entirety of the class (April - August). The document may include text, photos, drawings, materials you pick up on trips and so on. I suggest that you keep the journal very honestly and completely for yourself, and then edit it, if you feel the need for more privacy, before you hand it in. At different times in the quarter I will give you lists of questions I'd like you to think about and answer in your journals --- this may be especially useful for the video conferencing events. The purposes of maintaining a journal are to:

1. Help you create a record of your experiences in class and on the trips so you can remember details. Finding time to write may be difficult during the time in Dresden, but you should make every effort anyway --- maybe a small tape recorder would help. These are the things you will most want to remember.

2. Increase the amount of information I glean from the class --- every one of you will learn things that I don't during the term and this will give me a chance to pick up on those things too.

3. Improve the class the next time it is offered. Keep a record of things that worked or didn't work, ideas you have to improve things, readings or videos you come across, etc.

4. Do some research on the value of video conferencing and electronic communications in distance learning efforts. That's why I will give you questions to answer about those experiences.

The journals will be due Sept. 1, 2003.

At various times during the term, you will be asked to complete a survey. There are 5 or 6 in total and they don't take very long to fill out. These are part of a longitudinal study started a few years ago by Dr. Morrow-Jones. The continuation of this study, and therefore your participation in it, is very important.

This is a difficult area to define, but it is crucial to the whole class's experience this quarter. I expect this class to be a major focus of your effort for the term. That means, among other things: being prepared; attending class (and other activities that we schedule); participating constructively in class discussions; volunteering for tasks that will need to be done during the quarter; being flexible; helping out wherever help is needed; and so on. The jobs that need to be done during the quarter will cover a range of skills and will also range from large to very small, so there should be plenty of options for everyone to volunteer.

Ideally, everyone in class will attend all sessions, will travel to Dresden with us, and will be available in August to work with the Dresden students when they come here. The final aspects of the group projects cannot be completed until the Columbus field portion of the class is done, and that will happen in August.

Some examples of the kinds of tasks we'll need to get done over the course of the seminar include:
  • Scanning photos and maps and putting them up on the class web site,

  • Writing a brief biography of yourself and adding a picture so we can put those on the web site,

  • Continuing upgrades and maintenance on the web site,

  • Acting as librarian of the materials,

  • Helping with logistics for the Dresden students' visit to Columbus in July/August,

  • Keeping especially good notes on what does and doesn't work as far as course logistics, the technology, the approach --- these will go in your journals (see below),

  • Volunteering for small errands, short reports, additional information gathering or other tasks.

Keep track of what contributions you have made (I may not realize all the things you've done or forget in the rush of other things going on), and include the list as a separate page with your journal when you turn it in.


William R. Dodge.
1996. Regional Excellence; Governing Together to Compete Globally and Flourish Locally. National League of Cities.

Myron Orfield.
1997. Metropolitics; A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability. The Brookings Institution: Washington, D. C.

Neal R. Peirce.
1993. Citistates; How Urban American Can Prosper in a Competitive World. Seven Locks Press.

David Rusk.
1999. Inside Game/Outside Game; Winning Strategies for Saving Urban America. The Brookings Institution, Washington, D. C.

June Manning Thomas.
1997. Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit.
See Review (H-Urban: September, 1998) by Mike Smith, Wayne State University.

The readings are important to form our contextual foundation and will be key for class discussions. We will read other material as well, but they will mainly be from the shelves of our conference/reference room as well as made available on the homework drive for this class. You can copy whatever you want, but I would prefer that things not leave that room except to be photocopied and returned. That will help protect the resources for other students in this class and for future classes.

Class Schedule
Please note that this is a the proposed class schedule. We may need to modify it based upon topic interest and depth and other factors that may arise.

June 17- July 1
Dresden, Germany excursion*

August 17 - August 30
Columbus, Ohio excursion*

* More details on the specific excursion schedules will be made available as the details are finalized.

Syllabus prepared for the H-Urban Syllabus Archive 20 November 2002.
Updated 14 October 2004.