URBS 4/581—Selected Topics: Growing Up in Cities

“It is too often forgotten in our brash, practical modern world that

twilight, shadow, and beauty are as important to a growing child

as food and air.” Marjorie Allen, Planning for Play

Term: Spring, 2007

Instructor: Tony Filipovitch, 106d Morris Hall, 507-389-5035, or 507-388-2264 (home)

Office Hours: My office hours are posted here.  I am available in my office at those times (or other times by appointment). I also check my e-mail daily (usually several times during the day), and have an answering machine on both my home and office phone. There is no reason to flounder around, unsure of what “he wants” or confused about what you are doing; and even if everything is going fine with the coursework, there is more to learning than completing the assignments. I encourage you to visit me, in person or at a distance by phone or e-mail, many times during the course.

Course Calendar

Due date




1.1 Reconnaissance—and readings



1.2. Techniques for studying children



2. The Child:



2.1. Theories of development



2.2. Play & Children’s folklore



3. The Urban Environment:



3.1. Environmental impact on behavior



3.2. Children’s use of space



3.3. Building & playground design



4. Policy for Children:



4.1. Developing policy



4.2 GUIC Programme



5. Working with Children



5.1 Techniques for working with children



5.2 Designing an action with children

Action Research & Test


Position Paper/Lesson Plan due to classmates

Grad Observational Paper due


Feedback on Paper due to classmates



Final Position Paper/Lesson Plan posted to D2L & course evaluation due




DRISCOLL, D. (2002) Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth. (London: UNESCO/Earthscan)

Recommended: CHAWLA, L., ed. (2002) Growing Up in an Urbanising World. (London: UNESCO/Earthscan)

Course Objectives:

According to a recent UN study, by 2007 the majority of the world’s population will be living in cities. What kind of world are we creating for our children (and their parents) to live in? What effect will growing up in cities have on them? And how much of that effect can we control?

This course focuses on three issues:

1)      The development of children in urban settings

2)      Designing urban spaces for children

3)      Methods/techniques for studying cities with children (ages 10-17).

The literature we will be reading in this course will range across cultural and national boundaries.


Instructional Methodology and Teaching Strategies:

This course will be of interest to

1)      Teachers and teachers-in-training, especially social studies teachers, who are interested in teaching children to think reflectively about the world in which they are growing up.

2)      City planners and community developers, and others who are interested in creating environments in which children will have to live.

3)      Child care and child welfare providers, and others who are interested in children and the effect their environments have on their development.

My teaching style is based on an "adult-centered" model which assumes that you are active participants, each responsible for your own learning, and I am a facilitator and resource who helps you advance your project. My goal for myself as a teacher is to "take you someplace you would never before have gone alone."

Teaching Strategies & Communication Protocols:

A variety of techniques will be employed throughout the course. While there will be reading and lectures and tests, this course is heavily weighted to practice and experience and capturing those experiences in writing. The course will use D2L as the instructional management system. Discussion lists, assignments, grade rosters, and other course management issues will be handled through that site.

        The software for this course will be PC-based Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, or compatibles. I prefer to receive e-mail and course submissions to my e-mail address (not to D2L), and I can only open Microsoft Word or text files (if you are using, say, WordPerfect, make sure to send any files to me in .txt or .rtf format).

        I will communicate with you using your official MSU e-mail address; if this is not your preferred e-mail provider, make sure you have set your MSU e-mail account to forward to your preferred address (instructions are available from the help desk at help@mnsu.edu or 507-389-6654).

        I generally will reply to e-mails within 48 hours (give me an additional 24 hours over the weekends), unless I have notified the class through D2L that I expect to be away from my computer (e.g., when I am attending a national conference). If you do not hear from me within that time, please resend your question or comment as it may have been lost.

        The library has a document delivery service, and can send books or other publications that circulate (i.e., no items from the reserve or reference collection) to you if you are an online student. Information is available at http://www.lib.mnsu.edu/lib/ILL/docdel.html Remember, it will take some time for items to arrive by mail (and even longer if they have to be ordered from another library), so give yourself enough lead time if you plan to use this service.

Are You Ready for an Online Course?

There are a number of websites that can help you decide whether or not an online course is for you (for example, Minnesota Online or Athabascan University or the University System of Georgia’s SORT).  For starters, you should consider the following questions:

  • Will you be able to devote 6-8 hours per week for this course (even if you are traveling, are ill, or have family emergencies)?  And do you have the support of family and friends to put aside this amount of time and effort? It is easy to think that the work for an online class can be “fit in” to whatever time comes open during the week. Often, when students end up dropping the class it is because they simply did not budget enough time in their week to do the work required.
  • Are you comfortable with time management and working independently with only final deadlines to guide you? Online learning shifts much more of the burden for scheduling and planning to the student. You won’t have the advantage of regular class meeting times to discipline your work habits. If you are not also an on-campus student, you might not have the advantage of running into your classmates around the campus where you can “check in” on progress and solve little problems. If this is a challenge for you, check out http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm
  • Are you comfortable working primarily in a text-based format, which means reading well, writing well and having the ability to follow written directions? While I will try to provide as many opportunities as possible for using the entire range of learning styles, online learning does favor students who learn by reading.
  • Do you have the skills to communicate through the Internet, including
    • checking your e-mail daily (http://www.mnsu.edu/its/userid )
    • using e-mail or the phone to get your questions answered,
    • interacting with your classmates through the Internet?
  • Do you have the technical skills to use an online environment, including
    • producing, saving, and uploading documents
    • doing research using the Web (http://www.lib.mnsu.edu/lib/services.html )
    • using the “Track Changes” feature of Microsoft Word (if you don’t know this one, look it up using Word’s “Help” assistant)?



There will be two kinds of classwork:

1)      Online: What would have been lecture/discussion in a traditional class will be carried out on the Web, using the University’s Desire-to-Learn (D2L) website. I will post written course units, which will expand on assigned and recommended reading. You will discuss what you have been reading, using asynchronous (“Discussion List”) postings. I will monitor the discussions, but will not necessarily participate.

2)      Independent study: You will also be spending time on your own, reading (of course) but also carrying out research on your own. A large component of this course will be the testing of what you are reading/hearing against your own observations (controlled or opportunistic) of children in the city.

Class Discussion:

Each student must post at least one detailed reflection for each of the 11 topics for the course, and at least one response to another student’s posting. It is important that you post your responses with enough time for your classmates to reply within the week allotted for each unit; do not get behind in your discussion work. For full credit, you must use examples, details, and credible support for your position, and refer to relevant readings (your text, at a minimum) using standard citation format (you cannot provide credible support without citing what others have written!). You will receive partial credit if you do not provide support for your responses. While I will not track whether or not you read all of the postings, I strongly encourage it. You have as much to learn from each other as from me.

There is an etiquette to online discussion. I want you to engage in open, frank dialogue; but I also expect you to be respectful of each other. Comments that are harmful, abusive, offensive, or vulgar will not be tolerated. If I sense any problems, I will intervene. Should you feel intimidated or not respected, please contact me so we can consider how to proceed. A few hints:

        Re-read your messages before you send them—once it is sent, you are committed.

        Never assume that an e-mail is confidential; they are easily copied and forwarded to others.

        Also, be careful with humor; absent body language and other contextual clues, it can easily be misinterpreted.

Writing Projects:

In addition to the Discussion postings, the Course Calendar lists 3 short projects. These are designed to help you pull together what you have been reading and researching, and apply it in a concrete setting. You will post your response to these projects in the appropriate section on the Discussion Board in D2L.


There will also be a major written paper (2, for grad students):

1)      Teachers-in-training and teachers will create lesson plans.

2)      Urban professionals and child welfare providers will create position papers.

3)      All graduate students (whether teachers or urban professionals) must also design and carry out an observational study of children in the city.

All students will present their lesson plan/position paper and (for graduate students) the results of their research on D2L. Classmates will provide feedback and a formal assessment of the projects, which the student will summarize and submit to me with the final, written version of the project(s).



There will be two tests on D2L (under “Quizzes”). You may take the test only once and there will be a time limit for completing it. You may use your books and notes, but you are on your honor not to use any human resources (for example, you may not gather with your friends and discuss the test as you are taking it, or talk it over with someone who has already taken it).

Course Expectations:

Attendance & Class Participation:

Students play an important role in educating and challenging each other. This can only happen if there is consistent involvement. I expect you to participate in the online discussions. It is your responsibility to post your responses in a timely fashion and engage in online class activities.  I expect all the work for each week to be posted by Thursday at 6PM (except Finals week, when it is due on Monday). If there is an emergency which requires you to be away from your computer, please contact me immediately. Loss of computer connection or network services are not an excuse for not getting work submitted on time (if you lose your connection, go to another location to do your work—a public library, the ACC, a friend’s computer, etc.) You can get help with technical problems from the MSUM computer help desk at help@mnsu.edu or go the 3rd floor of the Library.  You are paying for this class—make sure to get your “money’s worth.”  Most importantly, this is an excellent foundation of knowledge for future activities, and it is a chance for you to learn, teach, and grow with others.


While the class will mostly meet in virtual space, I am available for face-to-face meetings at most times. If my office hours are not convenient, call or e-mail for a more convenient appointment. I have voice-mail on my telephone (at home and at the office), and I use e-mail extensively.


There are 100 points for the course, divided as follows:




Discussion Postings






Position Paper/ Lesson Plan






Observational Study




The final grade may be based on a curve, but students can expect at least an A if they achieve 90, a B with 80, etc.

Other Matters:
All assignments are due on the assigned date. While I would prefer not to receive work late, partial credit may be given for assignments that are less than one week late, unless other arrangements have been made in advance.

Written reports are expected to be free of grammatical, spelling, and content errors.  They should be submitted in typewritten, standard formats (APA, MLA, URSI Style Sheets). You must familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy. I encourage you to draw on the ideas of others—but you must also identify when you do so (you gain “brownie points” for citing the work of others!). Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic behavior and will result in an F for the course.

I will help you in whatever manner humanly possible.  However, once the semester is over, there is not a great deal I can do.  If there is something that you don’t understand, are having problems with, or need help on, please get in touch with me as early as possible.

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities.  If you area student with a documented disability, please contact us as early in the semester as possible to discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at 507-389-2825 (V) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY).




2004 A.J.Filipovitch
Revised 8 January 2007