Urban Community Change Program

College of Arts and Humanities

109/110 Main Hall
Urban Community Change Program
Hannah Ashley, Director

The purpose of this program is to equip future professionals to work in urban communities and with agencies and organizations that particularly focus on urban youth, including but not limited to schools, social service agencies, and youth and community development organizations. Through an experiential approach to learning and a philosophy of empowerment, the program will help WCU students to understand the complex context of American cities, the strengths and capabilities of families of diverse backgrounds, and the implications of public policy for large urban systems.

The minor will enable students who are preparing for urban careers to develop a deep understanding of the economic, social, cultural, and political context of urban social systems and community factors that affect youth. The Youth Empowerment and Urban Studies (YES) Minor is open to all students in every college.

All undergraduate students are held to the academic policies and procedures outlined in the undergraduate catalog.  Students are encouraged to review departmental handbooks for program tips, suggested course sequences, and explanations of procedures. When applicable, additional policies for specific department programs may be listed below.


Hannah Ashley (2001)

Director, Urban Community Change Program

B.S., Cornell University; M.Ed., Ph.D., Temple University

Eleanor Brown (2005)

B.A., Haverford College; Ph.D., University of Delaware

Kristen B. Crossney (2008)

Director, D.P.A. Program

B.S., University of Maryland-Baltimore County; M.A., Temple University; Ph.D., Rutgers University

Jacqueline S. Hodes (2012)

Chairperson, Educational Leadership and Higher Education Administration

Graduate Coordinator, Educational Leadership and Higher Education Administration

B.A., M.Ed., Ed.D., University of Delaware

Lisa C. Huebner (2007)

B.A., Bowling Green State University; M.A., University of Cincinnati; Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh

Vicki A. McGinley (1997)

B.A., University of Pittsburgh; M.A., Ph.D., Temple University

Associate Professors

David I. Backer (2016)

B.A., George Washington University; M.S., State University of New York, Buffalo; M. Phil., Columbia University; Ph.D., Columbia University, Teachers College

Casey Bohrman (2014)

B.S., Boston University; M.S.W., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Laquana Cooke (2016)

B.S., New Jersey Institute of Technology; B.A., Rutgers University; M.A., New York University; Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Ashlie B. Delshad (2011)

B.A., Austin College; M.A., Ph.D., Purdue University

Benjamin Kuebrich (2016)

B.A., Illinois State University; M.A., Miami University (OH); Ph.D., Syracuse University

Orkideh Mohajeri (2018)

B.A., Carleton College; M.A., M.Ed., Ph.D., University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Kathleen Riley (2013)

B.A., Colby College; M.A., American University; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Latonya Thames-Taylor (2001)

Director, African American Studies Program

B.A., Tougaloo College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Mississippi

Assistant Professor

Yanira Rodriguez (2019)

B.A., Lehman College; M.A., M.F.A., Syracuse University


RUX 110. Introduction to Urban Community Change. 3 Credits.

This course explores the idea that people critically understanding the world and how to act in and for themselves on the world to change it is an essential quality of humanity.
Gen Ed Attribute: Humanities Distributive Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

RUX 199. Transfer Credits. 1-10 Credits.

Transfer Credits.
Repeatable for Credit.

RUX 215. Liberation Psychology: Sustaining Community Change. 3 Credits.

This class will take a Liberation Psychology approach to examining the cross section of societal forces and our individual lives as "community change workers" such that we can sustain ourselves and those we might work with professionally and in the community. Students will be introduced to a toolkit of practices for sustaining their own resilience, well-being, and engagement in community change framed critically to combat oppression and internalized oppression (ranging from Cognitive Behavioral self-help tools to mindfulness, peer support to movement building, and more). Students will gain in-depth practice in using active listening, reflection, and interpersonal communication as one way to process the effects of oppression. Students will also have opportunities to learn presentation skills, including final projects that will allow them to explore in more depth one or more of the strategies studied by formulating a model of sustaining self for the future, a model that aims to be aware of the critical perspectives on psychology and structural injustices studied in this course.
Pre / Co requisites: RUX 215 requires a prerequisite of RUX 110 or YES 250 or PSY 100 or PSY 120.
Gen Ed Attribute: Speaking Emphasis.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Cross listed courses PSY 215, RUX 215.

RUX 377. Community Organizing: Strategies and Practice. 3 Credits.

This is a course that explores strategies and practice of organizing for social change. This course will study and engage social problems and the agencies (NGOs, non-profits, Not-for-profits, religious, and governmental) which deal with social problems through the strategic organizing. The course will examine the way social change occurs and how and why people organize with a focus on social, political, and economic justice and radical democracy. Students will be exposed to a variety of methods and practical strategies for nonviolent community organizing. While time is given to theory, this course will focus on the practice of social change and the development of practical skills for capacity building, strategic design, and organizing logistics.
Pre / Co requisites: RUX 377 requires a prerequisite of PAX 200, RUX 110, or YES 250.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Cross listed courses PAX 377, RUX 377.

RUX 400. Critical Urban Work Practicum Seminar. 6 Credits.

This course is a capstone experience for Urban Community Change students to apply their critical study of the assets and challenges of urban communities; deepen their investments in urban communities; and synthesize practice, theories, and histories of community change with an in-depth field placement with an organization in Philadelphia or another urban location. Students will use knowledge developed in previous courses and fieldwork to focus on how to collaboratively build and sustain change publicly, within groups and institutions, and within themselves. Contemporary topics in urban community change, including research and practice, will be presented each week. Students will integrate their praxis into a model of transformative community building practices within the urban social context. This course may be taken twice for credit.
Pre / Co requisites: RUX 400 requires prerequisites of RUX 110, YES 300, RUX 215/PSY 215, and RUX 377/PAX 377. One may be waived by permission of the instructor or program advisor. Attendance at a meeting the previous semester with the RUCCAS faculty/staff is also required.
Consent: Permission of the Department required to add.
Gen Ed Attribute: Writing Emphasis.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.
Repeatable for Credit.


YES 199. Transfer Credits. 1-10 Credits.

Transfer Credits.
Repeatable for Credit.

YES 250. Intro to Youth and Urban Community Work: Urban Prof Workshop. 3 Credits.

This course addresses professional dispositions for working in the urban environment. Students gain an awareness of the strengths of communities, their ethical responsibilities as community and youth workers, as well as the forms of oppression that youth may experience in the urban environment.
Gen Ed Attribute: Ethics Requirement.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

YES 300. Youth Empowerment and the Urban Context. 3 Credits.

This course will immerse students in theories, historical contexts, and practices of leadership and democratic action through study, reflection and a semester-long partnership with an elementary or middle grades classroom in an urban school.
Typically offered in Fall & Spring.

YES 301. Seminar in Youth-Led Media and Inquiry. 3 Credits.

Students will participate in a six-week intensive seminar on service learning/CEL and youth-led media as a particular strategy of CEL.