City Parks and Politics: An Introduction

Spring 2018
Evening and Weekend
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Joli Sandoz
academic and creative nonfiction writing, community studies, analog game design

Residents of U.S. cities say that urban green spaces provide them with multiple benefits. These range from the elevated economic worth of near-by houses to the development of stronger neighbor-to-neighbor relationships. History suggests that public spaces also serve as physical locations for political dissent, including the consideration of community values. Participants in City Parks and Politics will focus on the multiple contributions made by city parks and city recreation programs to urban communal life.

Our inquiries will begin with the reality that parks are public spaces constructed for specific purposes. The topics of social equity, policy-making, human health, park-related employment, and varied interpretations of the common good will center our explorations. Part of our work will be to examine conflicts over who does, and who should, use parks – and for what ends.

Parks and recreation programs in Olympia and Lacey will serve as informal case studies for our explorations. Invited speakers and visits to area parks will inform our inquiries. Planned classroom activities include workshops, seminars, and short interactive lectures. During one Saturday class session, we will contribute to a hands-on park project as volunteers.

Program members will enjoy multiple occasions to develop the habits of mind of critical thinkers. Clear and thoughtful writing, coupled to opportunities to explore ideas related to the public good, will be essential components of our work together. Texts will include The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space (Mitchell), and reports and articles available online. Participants should plan to develop their knowledge of urban parks and recreation programs and of the contributions these programs make to the political and social lives of U.S. cities. Credit will be awarded as City Parks and Recreation: An Introduction.  

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

community work, local or state government, city planning, politics, parks and recreation, sociology


Credits per quarter



Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 25

Scheduled for: Evening and Weekend

Final schedule and room assignments:

Advertised schedule:

Wednesdays, 5:45-9:45pm and every other Saturday, 9 am- 5 pm: April 7, 21, May 5, 19, and June 2.

Located in: Olympia

2018-02-26Program description updated
2018-01-23Schedule Change: Class is now Wed/Sat, was Thu/Sat