This fall, Donjek principal Jon Commers is again offering a colloquium in the Urban Studies department at the University of Minnesota, focused on the interaction of public and private sectors in cities. He created and has taught a similar course since 2014.
Cities are many things: Buildings, streets and transit routes, infrastructure to collect and distribute water, energy, and communication. More fundamentally, cities are networks of human relationships, drawn together by reduced costs of connection. Typically having developed over many years, cities have a unique history both of physical design and social dynamics, which influence their health and future prospects.
Public and private organizations have different roles to play in the city, different motivations, and perspectives about the other that don’t consistently match. At the same time, government agencies and private firms are truly interdependent in the city environment: Neither can accomplish their objectives without engaging the other. Interdependence of the public and private sectors can be traced historically, and this dynamic produces political tensions that can support or undermine urban areas.
Public-private partnerships are an essential urban redevelopment tool applied in U.S. cities to accomplish a wide range of development and social objectives. This course will explore the history, current condition, and future of how private- and public-sector organizations identify, structure and implement partnerships that shape community development and real estate development in cities.
Through reading, discussion and other media, this course will use the advantages of the University’s urban setting to explore the many types of partnerships that have evolved to support the economic, social and cultural health of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Students will also consider what kinds of partnerships will make a difference in an increasingly urban future. Key themes of the course will include:
- The City is a Platform for Interaction
- Roots: Recent and Distant History of Public/Private Interaction
- Contemporary Tools for Partnership
- Politics of Public/Private Interaction and Interdependence: “You Didn’t Build That”
- Future Marketplace and Partnerships
- Applications of Public-Private Partnerships
- Using Data to Evaluate How People Use Places