Comparative Methods of Community Analysis
The study of communities has a rich history in the social sciences, in history, and in such diverse fields as geography, architecture and planning, and even art. Each approaches community from a unique perspective that highlights different aspects of the experience, the life, and the heritage of communities: from the "eye" of the architect envisioning the urban form and its evolution: to the historian's analysis of documents, photographs, and life histories of communities; to the planner's use of geographic information systems, the sociologist's analysis of the formation and social characteristics of communities, and the anthropologist's ethnographies of cultures and groups. All are useful tools for students of community processes as well as students focusing on communities for the purposes of planning, organizing, and service deliver. The purpose of this course is to provide you with the understanding of the array of methods used to study communities and the skills necessary to plan an appropriate community study. This course expands the work conducted in Community Portraits, offering more complex approaches to the study of communities. The course will familiarize you with the "methodological tools" that different disciplines and fields use to study, represent, and understand communities and presents examples of approaches from the social sciences, humanities, the arts, architecture and urban planning and others. The course will also help you develop basic skills in the design of appropriate community studies, in the selection of the appropriate methods to use, and in the implementation o, at least, one method of data collection.