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Research Projects: Text and Context


Text and Context

Using the City of Philadelphia to facilitate student learning


Outside Classroom Title: Neighborhood Resource Assessment Strategy: Viewing the Built Environment as Text and Context for Learning, Research, and Service Research/Project


Facilitated By: Dr. Timothy J. Peterson


Proposal Topic: Publishing a community-based teaching and research strategy that links course material to community life and views the neighborhood as a text and context for learning and service.


Description: This workshop focuses on a research strategy that links course material to community life and views the neighborhood as an important arena for educational experience in a non-invasive, realistic way. This neighborhood resource assessment strategy can shorten neighborhood learning time, increase contextualization of course material, challenge inappropriate stereotypes, and develop valuable skills (ethnography, hermeneutics, and social interaction).


This pedagogical approach can:

  1. view the immediate neighborhood as text and context for learning, serving, and living,
  2. effectively link classroom work to real world social circumstances in the community and city,
  3. challenge and potentially change inappropriate attitudes, misconceptions, and prejudices regarding urban space, city places, and those who make this neighborhood "home" and
  4. help to guide community-based learning, research, and service.


Most community assessment strategies focus on "needs" or problems, thereby identifying issues which are then to be addressed. In some urban neighborhoods the list of "needs" can quickly become long and overwhelming. In addition, some neighborhoods become stigmatized as locations where all the "problems" exist. These locations tend to be avoided and stereotyped in negative ways. This approach begins with the assumption that resources exist in every location and those resources are represented in four inter-related ways: human, social, material, and ecological.


This project proposal has two interdependent components: "Part One" is a workbook that leads a person or group in a process to learn more about a specific neighborhood in order to better participate in improving its quality of life and sustainability; "Part Two" is a companion book offering the theoretical basis for the tool, helpful ideas on application and suggestions for using the information that is gathered.

Research Projects

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