Sociology | Topics in Social Policy
S360 | 10279 | Cornell

Topic:  Social Action Seminar
Obesity as a Public Health Problem:  Designing the Downtown Mall Walk

LESA@INDIANA.EDU  (812) 856-1747

This section of 360 is designed to fulfill the "Social Action
Seminar" requirement for the LESA minor, though other students
interested in service-learning, in urban topics, in gender, in
public health, in nonprofit organizations and in graphic design are
invited to take it.  Students will do a group project which will be
completed and presented to a community organization by the end of
the semester.

Americans tend to think of obesity as a genetic problem or as an
individual moral problem, but there is increasing evidence that it
is a social problem as well.  If the built environment makes it
difficult for people, especially women, to walk in the course of
their everyday activities, then it is difficult for people to have
the amount of physical activity necessary to good health.

To examine this problem, students will survey walkers at College
Mall and design a similar set of walks for downtown Bloomington.
You will work with the Active Living Coalition, a group made up of
representatives from Bloomington Hospital and the City of
Bloomington's Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of
Housing and Neighborhood's Development (HAND), and with the Downtown
Bloomington Commission, a group of business owners.  You will
research the desires of mallwalkers and neighborhood walkers by
designing a questionnaire and interviewing them.  You will identify
potential walks in downtown Bloomington, describe and evaluate the
characteristics of those walks, design a walk system, prepare
publicity for the system, and gain community support for it by
marketing it individually to downtown business owners.  You should
be prepared to attend community and neighborhood meetings at
specified times in the evening and on weekends and should be
prepared to do field research during daylight hours, including early
morning hours.

You will gain an understanding of obesity as a public health
problem, will learn how local community groups organize to change
their environment, and will be taught how to conceptualize, create,
and present a large public design project.

Requirements:  Individual and group research on aspects of the
problem every week throughout the semester.  Preparation of a
polished professional written and oral group presentation at the end
of the semester.