Skip to main content

This course will introduce students to the field of local economic development policy and planning and to commonly-used economic development strategies, from industrial recruitment and cluster development to small business assistance and university-led innovation. Course readings and related class discussions will provide a general overview of specific strategies and expose students to emergent and established debates about their use and implementation. Case study analysis will enable students to also consider the particular local context in which these strategies are implemented, thus helping students recognize the role local contextual factors can play in shaping or hindering conditions for successful strategy use and adaptation. Combined, these class activities will help students understand important differences in how communities go about developing and implementing economic development strategies and what these differences might imply for long-term policy reach and impact. The ultimate goal of this course is to enable students to think critically about both the merits and limits of individual economic development strategies, yet also understand the particular conditions under which certain communities and community actors can guide and coordinate strategy use in innovative and more equitable ways.