I noticed in your recent edition an editorial, which made an excellent suggestion – that GenEd include a course addressing local politics. Although the letter focuses on introducing students to the court system of local government, I take it that the overall thrust of the piece was that Temple should offer a course that would help students better understand our local political system period. GenEd, with its Philadelphia Experience courses, couldn’t agree more. An important way for Temple to encourage civic engagement would be to ground student understanding in our particular political context.
There is a course under development in GenEd that will satisfy the U.S. Society area of the program provisionally called What Kind of City Do You Want? The proposed course would be taught by former city councilman (19 years) and mayor (eight years) John Street and will use Philadelphia as a case study to examine tough questions surrounding the allocation of limited resources in a large, diverse U.S. city.
Given the many competing claims on resources – to alleviate poverty, homelessness and crime, to provide decent public education, to stimulate sustainable development, for example – the course will ask students to consider the political and ethical tensions within in the municipal budgeting process.
Working in different “task forces,” students will research one of several important areas – education, public safety, prison re-entry, economic development, et cetera – will keep a blog and will present their findings to the class. As with any GenEd course, there will be no prerequisites. Students will not need a background in political science or public policy to take this course.
GenEd is very interested in what students think about the program – about whether it is succeeding, whether it needs to change and how. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your ideas and feedback.
Professor, Legal Studies, Fox School of Business