Graduate-level Capstone Courses

From corridor revitalization to re-imagining a 128-acre former auto plant site in a prime urban neighborhood, to creating community visions, planning and policy graduate students from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs have contributed tremendously to important community work.

Minnehaha-Hiawatha Corridor Revitalization Planning

A Humphrey School student team contributed significantly to a two-year Hennepin County Community Works project to develop a Strategic Development Framework for the Minnehaha-Hiawatha Corridor to guide County, City and private revitalization investments.  These capital investment decisions needed to be community driven and based on a close collaboration among all stakeholders.  The team worked with a Community Advisory Committee that served as “process stewards” and the project consulting team.

Tasks included planning and demographic research, stakeholder identification and analysis, extensive sessions with community councils, and gathering deep input through doorknocking the entire corridor, at the local Farmers Market and light rail transit stations, and from neighborhood law enforcement staff and high school students (see photos below).

City of Shakopee Community Visioning

Students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs contributed tremendously to Shakopee’s broad community effort that engaged many hundreds of people in creating a robust and sustainable vision for this growing and increasingly diverse community. These talented graduate students participated in all aspects of this client project including community conversations, issues briefs, surveys, goals-strategy mapping, surveys, presentations, workshops, and meetings with elected officials, staff, and appointed steering committee members.

The photos below show Capstone students gathering input from community stakeholders and working with the Steering Committee and City Council members.

Ford Plant Site Re-imagining

For this capstone-specific effort, our team of 10 Humphrey School of Public Affairs students worked with the St. Paul planning staff lead to frame critical questions about the future of this 120+ acre site in the heart of a strong St. Paul neighborhood, identify and engage key stakeholders, conduct national and international research, work with the city-appointed Task Force, and present their narrative and video findings to a very appreciative group of city staff, Task Force members, and community.

The photos below show the awesome Ford Capstone team as well as team members helping get ideas from local high school students, present at Task Force meetings, and gather input from community members.

The Meaning of Community (Frogtown, Summit-U)

This team of students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (self-named CONN-ECT) collaborated with the District 7 (Thomas-Dale/Frogtown) and Summit-University District Planning Councils to explore what “community” meant to area residents and organizers in their own words and through their eyes. The Central Corridor light rail project on University Avenue had defined many of the public discussions in these neighborhoods, but people argued strongly that their neighborhoods were much more than that.  The team discovered tremendous energy and interest in discussing what makes community, how to strengthen it across boundaries and barriers of many kinds, and how to continue building cross-cultural connections. As team members interviewed and worked with youth and adults, four major themes emerged: safe places and spaces, social networks, community structures, and diversity; these formed the structure of the project. The photos below are from their final presentation and open house for the community, which included clay models and short essays done by primary students at Jackson and Maxfield elementary schools.

Hamline-Midway Revitalization Framework and Toolkit

This group of students worked with the Hamline Midway Coalition (the nonprofit district council for the area) and SPARC (the local community development corporation) to engage local businesses and residents in a public engagement process intended to directly spur revitalization of the North Snelling Avenue corridor. The team prepared a Fast-Track Action Plan and Revitalization Framework and Toolkit. Numerous community leaders and organizations contributed, as well as hundreds of community members who provided input to the vision. The team focused on two groups missing from previous planning efforts: local businesses and neighborhood youth.

The photos below show the team and partners identifying stakeholders, conducting a visioning workshop, gathering perspectives as an Arts Alive community event, and one of the numerous local businesses surveyed.