This OTREC education proposal will link experiential education with local transportation planning through a collaborative partnership between the University of Oregon and the City of Eugene. Educators have long worked to find pedagogical approaches that yield the best educational results. This is particularly true in the planning disciplines where there is an ongoing dialog among academics and practitioners about how to most effectively train aspiring professionals.1 To provide a mix of academic and practical experience, most planning programs include a mixture of theoretical and applied curriculum. The American Planning Association (APA) recognizes this need and as a result, APA accredited planning programs must have a “practicum” as a key program element.
The Community Planning Workshop (CPW) is an experiential learning program affiliated with the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management at the University of Oregon. This project will link the best practices of experiential learning with a pedestrian and bicycle transportation plan for Eugene, Oregon. The primary objectives of this project are to (1) create a City of Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Strategic Plan, and (2) prepare a case study describing strategies for incorporating experiential learning in community-based transportation planning projects.
The project scope will consist of developing a City of Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Strategic Plan by facilitating community workshops, a steering committee process, an internal City of Eugene committee process, and conducting focused research. CPW will apply principles of experiential learning found in the literature and document the experiential learning processes used to develop the City of Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Strategic Plan. CPW will then synthesize strategies used to create an effective experiential learning process and prepare a case study describing the benefits of experiential learning in transportation planning and strategies for engaging students in community-based transportation planning projects.
This project addresses four major elements outlined in the education project funding criteria. First, students will be involved in all levels of the project under the guidance of CPW and City of Eugene staff. Students will have an opportunity to work with professionals in the transportation field, and to conduct research, facilitate public workshops, and work with an advisory committee. In short, this project will provide students direct, hands on experience in developing a pedestrian and bicycle strategic plan for the City of Eugene. Second, this project is cross-disciplinary, providing opportunities for policy, planning, environmental studies, and landscape architecture students to learn with and from each other. CPW proposes to use an experiential, cross-disciplinary approach as an ongoing opportunity for students interested in transportation related issues at the University of Oregon. Third, the project is a collaborative effort between the University of Oregon Community Planning Workshop and the City of Eugene. Finally, to disseminate the methods used to provide opportunities for students interested in transportation planning, the Experiential Learning in Transportation Planning case study will be submitted for publication and presented at conferences,.
The project will result in a completed City of Eugene Bicycle and Pedestrian Strategic Plan, will involve 15-20 students in a rich experiential learning process, will build partnerships between the University of Oregon and the City of Eugene, and will result in a case study describing the methods used to integrate experiential learning into transportation planning processes as well as lessons learned. Each of these elements furthers stated OTREC and DOT priorities and goals for Education projects, and will build support for innovative methods of teaching in the field of transportation study.