Neal Buckwalter, Assistant Professor with the School of Public, Nonprofit & Health Administration
PA307 & the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan
During the Winter 2014 semester, Dr. Neal Buckwalter's undergraduate class (PA307 – local politics and administration) participated in a community-based class project in partnership with the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (FHCWM). The relationship with the FHCWM was established through the Office for Community Engagement, headed by Ruth Stegeman. This class was one of several classes that examined various aspects of a specific neighborhood in Grand Rapids (postal code 49507). We had representatives from FHCWM come in and talk to us about the project, the neighborhood, and the impetus for our participation, which was to help them identify opportunities to invest money that FHCWM received as part of a legal settlement with Wells Fargo bank. We pursued this in teams, looking at the following aspects of the neighborhood:
- Green space
- Building façade
- Neighborhood identity
- Neighborhood stability
- Public safety
- Transportation infrastructure
- Institutional partnership
Group reports and executive summaries were given to the FHCWM at the conclusion of the semester. Students were also given the chance to attend and participate in a conference hosted by FHCWM after the semester concluded.
This experience strengthened our the School of Public, Nonprofit & Health Administration's relationship with FHCWM. This has resulted in some internships and a recent hire of one of our undergraduate students. As a department, we also awarded the director of FHCWM, Nancy Haynes, as a Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society Community Inductee.