The ESA 450 course on Smart Growth and Strategic Land-Use Decision-Making was available at Michigan State University from Fall 2005-Fall 2011. This was an interdepartmental class for undergraduate and graduate students focusing on environmental applications, urban planning, geography, environmental economics and policy. The aim of the course was to prepare future leaders to understand how the economy has changed, and the role land plays in the changing economy, to think strategically and in an integrated fashion, and to help plan for a prosperous future. It was taught by Soji Adelaja, PhD, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in Land Policy and former director of the Land Policy Institute; and John Warbach, PhD, associate director of LPI.
This online-based course attracted students from such disciplines as urban and regional planning, resource development, economics, journalism, landscape architecture, anthropology, geography and others. Students from at least six different countries also participated in the course during its last three years.
As part of a semester research project, students enrolled in the Fall 2009-Fall 2011 semesters of ESA 450 were asked to interview local, state, national or international thought leaders on such topics as economic development, land use, the environment, urban design, government and social justice. The comments the students received from their subjects were intriguing, timely and of great potential value to policy makers in Michigan, other distressed states and the nation.
Therefore, a special report series, called Moving Michigan Forward, was created that included a compilation of edited interview results reported by the students over this three-semester time period.