Cultural Competence in Urban Affairs and Planning--Engaging New York City's Puerto Rican and Latino Communities" notes that only four percent of licensed planning professionals are Latino (American Planning Association 2010 Survey), a fact that undermines interactive and participatory service-learning endeavors in Latino communities.
In 2009, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) at Hunter College undertook the Centro Cultural Competence Initiative (CCI) with the support of a one-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The goal of the CCI was to address the need for culturally appropriate work in a variety of professions by training students to be culturally competent practitioners. The Urban Affairs and Planning Department at Hunter College joined CENTRO as a partner in this initiative and a fall 2010 symposium was coordinated by Professor Tom Angotti and graduate student Mario Quijano entitled: “Community Planning and Development in Puerto Rican and Pan Latino New York: Problems and New Approaches for Teaching and Practice.” The transcript is presented as a resource for educators who are interested in introducing key issues relating to Latino urban communities in their courses and includes recommendations for changes in curriculum and pedagogy.
A student survey and face-to-face interviews with faculty members were conducted by Urban Planning Graduate students Marly Pierre-Louis and Angela Tovar, with guidance from Professor Laxmi Ramasubramanian, to assess existing practices within the department and how they can be improved to effectively prepare the student body to understand and engage with diverse groups of people. Professor Sigmund Shipp incorporated a community-based cultural competency student project in his Diversity in the City course as students produced modules that demonstrate how different community organizations working with Latino populations deal with issues in culturally competent ways. Findings and recommendations are included in this report.