APS Partners with City of Atlanta to Offer an Enhanced Social Studies Curriculum Inspired by Atlanta City Design

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen joined City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to announce a new partnership to write an interactive curriculum based on the Atlanta City Design. The inquiry-based curriculum will be implemented as a six-week exploration into urban planning and the history of Atlanta’s design as well as aspirations for the city’s future. This new partnership is highly unique and represents the first time the City and APS have collaborated to develop a curriculum of this type. Department of City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane worked with Janean Lewis, APS social studies coordinator, to lead a team of teachers and the Atlanta City Studio staff in a collaborative writing camp, to design the curriculum.

“Atlanta Public Schools is proud that our students will have a voice in the future design of our city through this unique City Design partnership and curriculum enhancement,” said Dr. Meria Carstarphen, APS Superintendent. “Eighth graders will have an amazing opportunity to guide our city toward becoming a ‘Beloved Community’ by experiencing the city from a new lens and sharing their visions and plans for the future design of Atlanta.”

The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community is the anchor text for the urban planning unit of the new curriculum. The Department of City Planning, with the input of residents, visitors and local designers, worked for more than a year to create the Atlanta City Design. The Atlanta City Design promotes sustainable design that incorporates the social, economic and environmental needs of the city. The design also aims to improve and accentuate Atlanta’s authentic character in a way that can accommodate a much larger population, offer additional transportation solutions and ensure more affordable housing opportunities.

“The Atlanta City Design is one of the most forward-looking and exciting projects in our city’s history,” said Mayor Reed. “I am delighted that the City of Atlanta has been able to partner with the Atlanta Public Schools to integrate the design initiative into their middle school social studies curriculum. These young students represent our city’s future, and there is nothing more important than engaging with them as we plan for the future. I hope that we will learn as much from the students as they learn from us.”

APS eighth graders will engage with the learning modules in the Spring semester; the modules will culminate with each student completing a capstone project. APS also plans to teach the curriculum to ninth graders starting in the 2018-2019 school year.

“A major focus in our curriculum revolves around civic engagement. I proposed this project so that our city’s youth can take advantage of the invaluable resources that are right in their own backyards,” said Lewis, who is the main curriculum writer. “Our vision, with the partnership is to support students in understanding how their city’s history impacts its development and how they can be engaged and involved in its future.”
The Atlanta City Design focuses on five core values:

  • Equity is ensuring that all the benefits of nature, access, ambition, and progress accrue fairly to everyone.
  • Progress is to protect people and places with meaning from the market forces that will otherwise overrun them.
  • Ambition is to leverage the disruption of change to unlock new opportunities for people to do what they want with their lives.
  • Access is to update our hub of transportation for a new generation while also building a sense of community and place.
  • Nature is to protect and expand the ecological value of our watersheds, forest and habitat in the face of rapid urbanization.

The Atlanta City Design book is available at http://www.atlcitydesign.com. The document articulates an aspiration for the future city that Atlantans can fall in love with, knowing that if people love their city, they will make better decisions about it. These decisions can be reflected in all the plans, policies and investments the city makes, allowing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s concept of the Beloved Community to guide growth and transform Atlanta into the best possible version of itself.


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