The cycle of neighborhood regeneration and its displacement of the low-income families who had been living in the neighborhood is common to many developed nations around the world. While such reinvestment produces "showcase" communities in many cities, it does not allow low-income individuals to share in the benefits of better housing, better stores, safer streets, and improved services among other tangible improvements. Regeneration may help the overall quality of life or immediate local economy of the improved communities, but it often does little to provide opportunity to low-income families. It often just moves poverty around in a region and does not really reduce the overall regional level of poverty.

Our international project is an effort to document existing successful alternatives to this reinvestment and displacement cycle. What reinvestment models both improve the overall economic vitality of deteriorated neighborhoods at the same time as they provide opportunities for current low-income residents to benefit from these improvements? What are the existing and potential sustainable equitable community development strategies that benefit all sectors of the population, increasing economic independence of all individuals and families? This is the focus of our project.

L to R: Dr. David Hall, Dr. Phil Nyden, Dr. Teresa Rojo, and Dr. Sam Marullo at the Conference

The Curricular Framework for Sustainable Equitable Community Reinvestment will build upon the experience of university researchers and community activists in four cities in the U.S. and Europe--Chicago, Washington DC, Liverpool, and Seville. Specifically, the partners in each city are: the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) at Loyola University Chicago; the CoRAL Network coordinated at Georgetown University in Washington, DC; the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work Studies at the University of Liverpool; and the Sociology Department of the University of Seville. The project coordinators in each city are: Dr. Philip Nyden (Loyola University Chicago), Dr. Sam Marullo (Georgetown, Washington DC), Dr. David Hall (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Teresa Rojo (University of Seville) We will develop a curriculum that can be used either by faculty and students in the university classroom or by community leaders and residents in city and suburban neighborhoods.

In addition to drawing from experiences in four different cities in three countries, we will be drawing from the knowledge of university-based research and community activists. All of the partners are actively involved in university-community partnerships. We are strengthening these local activities by forging an international network that links "community-based knowledge" with "university-based (discipline-based) knowledge." This represents a practical application of a growing movement of university-community research and teaching partnerships. One such partnership has been the International Science Shop Network (ISSNET) which has been supported by the European Commission. Three of the four participants in this project (Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work Studies - University of Liverpool, Department of Sociology - University of Seville, and Center for Urban Research and Learning - Loyola University Chicago) first came in contact with each other through this network. Other formal and informal contacts in the U.S. formed around promotion of university-community partnerships helped to link CURL and CoRal.

Innovation--in both theory and practice--typically occurs at the boundaries between disciplines, between institutions, and between cultures. Therefore a project that crosses national boundaries, institutional boundaries, and university-community boundaries will enhance innovative course content and innovative pedagogy in higher education.

The project will build on emerging national networks and past accomplishments of participating universities in forging new relationships among U.S. and European institutions. The proposed trans-Atlantic project will allow us to: 1) share best practices; and 2) avoid "reinventing the wheel" and instead more effectively use limited private and public resources.

We will create, and pilot in all four universities, courses in "equitable and sustainable neighborhood reinvestment." Each city partner may use different teaching approaches, but all courses will include: a) hands-on training in community-based participatory research methodology; b) student involvement in an equitable re-development project; c) a detailed system of web-based communications; and d) visits by one or two of the faculty from partnering institutions during the classes at each university.

In addition to the course, other outcomes will include: 1) a written manual on "A Curricular Framework for Sustainable and Equitable Community Reinvestment" that will explain how a pedagogical approach utilizing both university and community knowledge can enhance the quality of learning in the university classroom; 2) sharing of experiences and results with faculty and administrators at the participating institutions to facilitate "institutionalization" of this international program after funding ends; 3) creation of a web page that will both be used by participants in the course of the project and contain all of the reports and products produced; 4) dissemination of the international innovative curriculum to other European and U.S. universities through existing networks in the U.S. and Europe.

This project has been funded by a grant from the European Community-U.S. Cooperation Program. This project is sponsored in part by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education.