UC What We Do

Urban Collaborators (UC) works with the University and local communities using the following mechanisms.

  • Facilitate and undertake community outreach in Michigan:
    • Planning and/or design project for a community.
    • Professional advice and or training of volunteer boards and neighborhood organizations.
    • Student internships.
  • Facilitate linkages between teaching, research and outreach.
  • Provide support for students and faculty.
  • Facilitate cross-disciplinary linkages.

How Do We Engage?

Through our programming we achieve the following:

  • Improve local capacity to stimulate and enhance the quality of urban life.
  • Assist communities in their efforts to leverage grant money from Federal, State and other sources.
  • Help communities leverage public and private funds.
  • Focus upon the needs of distressed communities by providing direct planning and design assistance.
  • Provide pragmatic technical assistance to communities with particular needs.
  • Expose communities to innovative planning and design solutions.
  • Bring the resources of the University to the urban planning issues of the State.
  • Ensure that we focus on those communities that have the greatest need.
  • Focus on applied projects that have a realistic opportunity for implementation and success.
  • Undertake research on critical areas of concern.
  • Disseminate our findings and reports to the widest possible audience.

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Practicum Course

The faculty in MSU Urban & Regional Planning Program are unanimous in their support of the Planning Practicum course as an important method for integrating classroom work and pragmatic planning in “real world” situations. This experience is essential in the progression from student to trained practitioner.

The following goals have been established for the Practicum course:

  1. To master basic techniques concerning data collection, interviewing, field work, map making and report writing.
  2. To apply analytical techniques needed to create an understanding of the state of a community and the problems in question.
  3. To have the student gain a thorough knowledge of planning processes and experience in the establishment of participatory procedures, which are applied for the duration of the project.
  4. To apply the basic inventory and analytical techniques, which have been taught within the context of the project in question.
  5. To gain experience in the development of recommendations for implementation in the following areas: regulation, (e.g., zoning), process (e.g., special permits) and funding (e.g., capital improvements, grants).
  6. To prepare near-professional quality reports and graphics.
  7. To present the materials before client groups.

There are a few criteria that must be met to ensure a successfully experience both for the community, as well as the students. Following is a list of requirements asked of communities who participate in UC outreach projects:

  • Require an established community partner to provide feedback and guidance for the duration of the project.
  • Require modest matching funds to meet expenses. Typically this ranges from $3000-$5,000 depending on the project.
  • If the UC has the capacity to meet a community’s request, and it falls within our mission, we will match you with a group of undergraduate and graduate students who will carry out the project under the direction of MSU professors.
  • The UC will work with communities to help you stay involved in the project, and to make sure that it continues to meet your needs to the greatest extent possible within the allotted time frame. Generally, a project is completed in one semester and usually during the Spring semester (January to May).
  • The UC will make a final presentation to your community and your partners, and present you with a final report, which your community may use to help carry out your project.

For more information on responsibilities, requirements and how to apply, download the Practicum RFP and Request Form. Applications are due annually by November 20. Notifications are made by December 15. Projects will run January through May.

The MSU Urban & Regional Planning Practicum Experience

2016 URP Practicum Project on the U.S.-23 South Plan

2014 Red Cedar River Corridor Trail Plan

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Practicum Projects

Recent Projects


View Practicum Projects Archive

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Summer Internship Program

Our Summer Internship Program is designed to meet one or more of these goals:

  1. To build the capacity of local organizations to address urban issues that focus on the health and sustainability of our urban areas.
  2. To enhance the linkage between the research and outreach resources of the University and the urban community development needs of Michigan’s urban anchors.
  3. To engage scholars and urban communities in ways that translates into new knowledge.

The interns will be assigned to MSU Extension Educators working on projects within one of the following cities: Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, Pontiac, Port Huron, Saginaw and Ypsilanti.

Educators are responsible for:

  • Direct supervision of the intern, including local office/project orientation;
  • Obtaining $500 local cash match;  
  • Reimbursing the intern for mileage (in accordance with local or MSU policies); and  
  • A mid-summer and project-end report, and an intern evaluation report.

Urban Collaborators will provide:

  • Basic intern orientation; and
  • Intern wages, up to a maximum of 400 hours at $12/hour.

For information on responsibilities, requirements and how to apply, download the Summer Internship Program RFP Applications are due annually by February 1. Awards are made by March 31. Internships run from May/June to August. If you are an MSUE Educator and are interested in hosting an intern, make sure to include it in your annual work plan.

Previous Internship Projects and Products

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Research and Outreach

The MSU faculty and students interested in urban issues are constantly involved in research and outreach. Ideas for collaborative research are always welcome.

Resource Guide Series

The Urban Collaborators’ Resource Guide Series includes bulletins on a single topic related to community development and urban planning. The Resource Guide Series provides a practical tool for community planners, citizen planners, community activists and field educators to implement within their own communities. After reading the guide, a community planner or educator should be able to implement the practice or model that the guide describes.

Applied Research

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