Introduction to Urban Communities

As a human services professional practitioner (HSPP), you will identify and address needs, whether on an individual, family, organizational, or community level. These needs are greater where populations are denser—namely big cities or what we call urban communities. This is due to the number of people in a limited space, and on the demand for services that comes with that larger population. Urban communities carry many challenges—but with those challenges come further possibilities for HSPPs to positively change lives. This course helps you uncover the reasons for the challenges we see in urban communities today, including homelessness, segregated neighborhoods, wealth inequality, addiction, and more. Tracing these causes allows for deeper understanding of the people you will interact with every day as an HSPP, no matter the community type in which you practice.

This week, you engage in foundational activities to ensure your understanding of urban communities. You also classify your own community and compare it to others in your class in order to see the differences among urban, rural, and suburban populations. 

Learning Objectives

Students will:

· Define urban communities

· Describe the value of understanding urban communities to a human services professional practitioner

· Compare demographics across urban, suburban, and rural community classifications

· Identify foundational concepts and facts related to urban, suburban, and rural communities 

Learning Resources

Community Classifications

National Geographic. (n.d.). Urban area.

Rosenberg, M. (2020, February 2). The difference between a city and a town: What does it take to be an urban population? ThoughtCo.

Tundel, N. (2013, March 7). For some city dwellers, race shapes definition of ‘urban.’ Minnesota Public Radio.

Urban Populations and Challenges

Chee, C. H., & Neo, H. (2018, October 29). 5 big challenges facing big cities of the future. World Economic Forum.

United States Census Bureau. (2016, December 8). Measuring America: Our changing landscape.


Discussion 1: Urban Communities

When you hear the word urban, what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of a large population and diverse neighborhoods, or you think of sprawl, or simply sophistication. The definitions of urban and urban community have evolved over the years and vary from country to country and culture to culture. So, in order to begin to understand urban areas and the people who inhabit them, you must first define them.

For this Discussion, you offer your definition and consider how knowledge of urban communities could help you as a working HSPP. 

To Prepare

· Review your course announcements for possible information related to this week’s Discussions and Assignment.

· Review the Learning Resources on community classifications.

By Day 3

Post your definition of an urban community. How did you come to develop your understanding of urban communities in your culture? Why do you think it might be important to know about urban communities? How might this information help you be a more effective HSPP? Make sure to integrate and document ideas and concepts from the Learning Resources to support your opinions.

By Day 5

Respond to at least one colleague by sharing an insight gained from reading their post. 

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria


Discussion 2: Classifying Your Community

Throughout the course, you will look closely at your environment to come to an understanding about the demographics, economics, needs, and resources of your own community. This research can then inform how you engage as an HSPP and how to best address the needs you see and close gaps in existing resources.   

In Discussion 1, you determined what constitutes an urban community in general. Now, in Discussion 2, you turn your gaze to your own community, its classification, and data such as population and demographics. You then compare your community to other types of communities represented in your class.

To Prepare

· Review the Learning Resources on community classifications.

· Search online for facts about your own community, including overall population, population density, and demographic makeup.

· Determine the type of community. Do you live in an urban, rural, or suburban environment? Town or city?

· You are encouraged (but not required) to access the interactive map provided by your Instructor and place yourself in your general location on the map. To do so, click on the Instructor-provided link. From the map, click on “Additions” and select “Add Marker – Simple.” Title your map marker with your name and then in the Location field, type your town, city, region, or zip code. (Please do not get too specific, such as the street, to protect your privacy.) In the Description field, add details to your placement, including overall population, population density, and demographic makeup.

By Day 4

Describe the location, population, and demographics of where you live. How would you classify your environment? How did you determine this classification? Use the Learning Resources to inform your post.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one colleague who lives in a similar type of community and at least one who lives in a different type of community. Compare commonalities and differences across the communities in terms of the listed details. What have you learned about your own community through this comparison?

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