School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration

Special Topics

Fall Semester

PA380.01: Attracting College Graduates to Grand Rapids: A Student-Driven Model

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and Grand Valley President Thomas Haas invite you to participate in a unique collaboration between the City and University. (Read Mayor Hartwell's invitation.)
Why will young, college-educated people choose to reside in Grand Rapids, or its suburbs, or outside of West Michigan entirely? The students in this unique course will hear and evaluate ideas brought to them by urban planners, community activists, civic leaders, demographers, economists, current residents, and other local thought leaders. Based on the best ideas available, the students will create a set of action recommendations for Grand Rapids to retain and attract young, college-educated people. In December, they will present these recommendations, in person, to the Grand Rapids City Commission.
Enrollment is open to all majors and all undergraduate class standings, but seats are limited. If you would like to register for this course, please send a letter of interest stating your reasons, along with your resume, and contact information of one academic or professional reference to .
Course ID: PA380.01 (Special Topics in Public and Nonprofit Administration)
CRN: 22575
Credits: 3 (undergraduate)
Meeting times 11:30-12:45 Tuesdays and Thursdays
Meeting location: Pew Campus, 307E DeVos Center
Contact:  Mark Hoffman ( , 616.331.6587)


PA380.02: Community Coalition Building

This course examines the public landscape shift from ‘Lone Ranger to ‘A-Team’ approaches in addressing contemporary social issues.

If you come here to help me, you are wasting your time… but if you come because your liberation is bound up in mine, let us begin” –Lilla Watson

Emerging national trends favor coalition building and collaborative problem solving as vehicles for alleviating complex public health issues like underage substance use, health disparities, educational reform, poverty alleviation, etc. Federal initiatives have been revamped to pursue public-private partnerships with community-based actors that can successfully manage the demands of being a contractor of the state and trusted mobilizing structure for multiple sector engagement at the local level. The national agenda shift to cross-sector collaboration creates significant opportunities for community transformation and conflict. Community actors and stakeholders formerly insulated in philosophy, funding, culture, and power must now authentically coalesce in order to operate as a funded partner of the state and generate the population-level change needed to advance intersecting public, nonprofit, and business goals.
This course explores shifting public policy efforts and the growing phenomenon of coalitions. Of primary interest to this course are the ways in which coalitions are serving as vehicles of change and the skill set required of nonprofit and public managers to form, participate in, manage, and/or sustain thriving coalitions. This class will analyze emerging nuances and case studies of community coalitions to uncover successful strategies, best practices, and lessons learned to equip incoming and current nonprofit and public administration professionals. This course will analyze case studies and materials of federal, state, and local coalitions, skills of coalition leaders, conflicts of coalition leadership, and the ways in which community change occur at the hands of coalitions. Ultimately, this course will introduce incoming and current nonprofit and public managers to the growing phenomenon of fusing public policy with the power of community coalitions to reduce the most pressing social ills of our day.

Course ID: PA380.02 (Special Topics in Public and Nonprofit Administration)
CRN: 22718
Credits: 3 (undergraduate)
Meeting times 1:30-2:45 Mondays and Wednesdays
Meeting location: Pew Campus, 307E DeVos Center
Contact:  Shannon Cohen, MPA, CPS (, 616.915.5109)


PA680.01: IT and Social Media

It is inconceivable that even the smallest government unit can operate today without computers and internet access. At the same time, consumer experiences with technology are constantly reshaping people’s expectations about how they will interact with both companies and governments. But for all that emphasis and reliance, what makes up information technology and how it should be overseen are frequently misunderstood or given short shrift. This course will equip you to appreciate and effectively manage technology in a public sector context. Intertwined will be an assessment of social media, including how to deploy it effectively and its impact on the government organization.

Course ID: PA680.01 (Special Topics in Public Administration)
CRN: 22420
Credits: 3 (graduate)
Meeting times 6-8:50 Wednesdays
Meeting location: Pew Campus, 205A DeVos Center
Contact:  Craig Paull (, 616.406.6259)


PA680.02: Community Benefit Assessment and Management

This course covers community assessment, program planning and program management techniques for nonprofit health delivery organizations. Community relations, the IRS, grant planning, and reporting will be addressed. Upon completion of this course, a student will be able to:

  • Explain and evaluate the process of community needs assessment.
  • Analyze and interpret community data.
  • Assess community health needs using public data sets.
  • Evaluate scientific and programmatic literature.
  • Formulate a community health program plan.
  • Assessment and planning communications materials.
  • Develop a community health program management plan.
  • Plan for evaluation and reporting requirements.

Course ID: PA680.02 (Special Topics in Public Administration)
CRN: 22579
Credits: 3 (graduate)
Meeting times 9-2:50 Alternating Saturdays (8/30, 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, 10/25, 11/8 & 11/22)
Meeting location: Pew Campus, 203E DeVos Center
Contact:  Lara Jaskiewicz (, 616.331.6580)

Letter of invitation from Mayor Heartwell. .

The Globe Apartments are located near downtown Grand Rapids and features loft-style apartments with 12-14 foot ceilings. Shannon Cohen is Founder and CEO of Community Ventures, LLC, providing contractual services to area nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable and underserved populations

Various coalitions and and collaborations are tackling complex health and social issues in the Grand Rapids area.

Craig Paull is an information technology executive and attorney. Since 2004, he has been the IT Director of Kent County. 

Opened in 2005, Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center is located in the Heritage Hill neighborhood of Grand Rapids.




Page last modified March 24, 2014