Dominican Republic



This case is about a travel-based service learning course that attempts to carry out community-based planning. It presents a scenario where two community groups propose different approaches for addressing the solid waste collection problems their informal settlement has been facing for many years. Students must decide if they will present recommendations that supports one group’s proposal over the other, or if they will attempt to remain neutral to avoid tensions, while slowing the decision-making process. The case requires students to think about the socio-political implications of offering “technical assistance” and the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing community-led verses public-private waste collection in informal settlements.

Planning Topics

university-community partnerships, international travel and service-learning courses, solid waste collection in informal settlements, participatory planning, public-private partnerships

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the tradeoffs between small-scale and large-scale approaches to solid waste collection;
  2. Recognize that multiple community groups can exist in one place and that potential conflicts can arise in “community-based” problem solving;
  3. Consider the implications of planners supporting an approach to a problem advocated by some, but not all groups in a community;
  4. Think about the role of students and universities in planning studio courses in low-income and marginalized communities;
  5. Appreciate the different challenges of carrying out long-term versus short-term timelines for project completion.

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Suggested Readings

  1. Botes, L. and D. van Rensburg. (2000). Community participation in development: Nine plagues and twelve commandments. Community Development Journal, 35(1): Social Science Module. Download the full paper.
  2. Aassad, R. (1996). Formalizing the informal? The transformation of Cairo’s refuse collection system. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 16(2): 115-126. Read the abstract.
  3. Crabtree, R. D. (2013). The intended and unintended consequences of international service-learning. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 17(2), 43-66. Download the full paper.