This is most recent syllabus. Your final syllabus will be given during your first day of class
Important Note: This course is cross-listed with ENV 310. This course was formerly ESUS 310.
In most cities, over the past 50 years, a sense of community has diminished significantly, and social capital has been weakened. Urban spaces which people once considered their own – because of familiar association, collective responsibility, and shared uses – no longer serve citizens’ everyday needs as “community places.” Numerous factors have contributed to this situation. These include: lifestyle and demographic changes, new consumption patterns, unsustainable development policies, residential and commercial delocalization, dispersive transportation and communication technologies and real (or perceived) safety issues. Despite the beauty and genius loci of its extraordinary historic center, the city of Perugia is also affected by these modern urban problems.
Among the strategies which are being utilized to bring “new life” and a “sense of community” back into cities (and to make them more equitable and sustainable) is an approach called ‘Placemaking’. This neologism – “Placemaking” – refers to a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, building, and management of public spaces. Placemaking is both a process and a philosophy. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspirations, and potential with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. It is also ‘political’ due to the nature of place identity. Since local people know best what they need, they should be directly involved in the decisions about, and creation of, changes in the public realm.
Since its beginning in 2013, this class has been an important catalyzer and partner in the placemaking efforts in the Borgo Bello historical neighborhood in Perugia. Our “C.A.R.O. Vicolo” Project (“Dear Back Alley”) which began in Fall 2014 and has injected new life, beauty, and interest in several public spaces in Borgo Bello. In collaboration with the Borgo Bello Association and the nearby School of Agricultural, Environment, and Food Sciences (DSA3), our students have helped design and build “vertical wall gardens” in Via Fiorenzuola, have promoted and co-built “OrtoBello”, the neighborhood’s first community garden and more recently, have worked to revitalize the Terrace of Via del Cortone, a hidden place in the neighborhood with a spectacular view of Perugia’s Acropolis, which has been renamed (by our students and the community) “SalottoconVista” – “A Living Room with a View.” Last term (Spring 2019) the class focused its efforts on the improvement of social spaces and information systems within the Saint Pietro Community Garden, also in Borgo Bello.
This term we will shift our attention to another neighborhood of the historical center of Perugia, the Sant’Angelo Neighborhood (Borgo d’Oro) which extends around Corso Garibaldi. Several neighborhood associations have recently joined forces to attempt to regenerate an abandoned linear park which forms the northern edge of the district (T.Urb.Azioni Project). Our class will offer support to these efforts and, during this semester, we will aid in the shared development, communication and construction of some first ideas/interventions for the improvement of the park’s central area.
Qualitative Community Research Project Description
Methodologically, the course utilizes participatory workshop activities, comparative readings, community dialogue, and urban exploration exercises to understand the relationships between people, places, values, and actions. Students will have the opportunity to visit and document neighborhood spaces, meet with local activists, attend (and help managed) community workshops and collaborate with the local Associations and inhabitants to learn and practice strategies and actions for transforming urban spaces into vital shared places, while creating a more friendly, sustainable, and inclusive community.
Visit Placemaking & Learning in Perugia to read passed students’ project development, reflections, and insights.
Watch this video featuring Umbra students and community members on the current project called ‘Salotta in vista’.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Appreciate and understand the relationships between people, perceptions, activities, identity and public open space. Understand the principles and value of community participation and Placemaking as viable, effective strategies in the creation of liveable, sustainable urban places and communities
- Understand and apply acquired skills in Placemaking, civic engagement and community participation approaches. These include methods for interacting with neighborhood actors including children, local partners, and other stakeholders
- Collaborate with neighborhood associations and inhabitants in the development of concrete initiatives aimed at revitalizing its urban spaces and furthering community development
- Appreciate the usefulness of acquiring basic design, construction and planting skills in the creation of small, liveable places
- Understand and share the potential for personal future engagement in cities and neighborhoods where the students will live and work
- Know well, and understand, one of Perugia’s neighborhoods in its urban context – its history, places, people and recent efforts in improving its public spaces
- Clearly and creatively present an overview of their experience of the Placemaking course and its meaning to them.
Mandatory course reader