Aug 27-Dec 14, 2018
Credit: 3 undergraduate
Instructor(s): Christopher Carter

Course Description

Three roundtables form a small face-to-face component of this class for those students who are in Bozeman. Distance students should plan on joining the roundtables by Skype or some other virtual technology.

The purpose of this online course is to empower emerging MSU graduates and emerging practitioners through substantive knowledge of contemporary strategic planning and Indigenous community development. This course will build a foundational understanding of the political, legal and cultural protocols, values, social structure, development economics and traditional knowledge of American Indian, Alaska Native and Pacific Islander peoples and engage with constructive planning practice that contributes to both local economic development and human development outcomes. Students can expect a challenging but engaging work load with ample opportunities to develop professional regional planning skills.
From critical theory to decolonization approaches and community development skills, this course aims to provide students with the critical skills necessary to work in and with indigenous communities and organizations today. Through readings and reflections in tribal economic development, 10 modules of strategic planning and a professional project students will be exposed to current planning practice in Indian Country and the challenges and opportunities therein. Promoting Community Development through Strategic Local Economic Planning, a guide written by the UN-HABITAT (United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development) will serve as a framework for studying the strategic planning method through ten modules. Our aim is to draw from collaborative approaches, Montana cases, the strategic approach and professional project completion to better prepare students for work in Indigenous settings both rural and urban today.
This class taught by native planning practitioners and facilitated by a professional regional planner offers a suite of skills that students can use as they transition into professional work environments beyond Montana State University. Enrollment from students in native studies, university honors, business, political science, sociology, anthropology, community health, land resources and environmental science, geography, engineering and economics is encouraged. Students will walk away from the course with substantive introduction to the field of strategic planning, professional skills and a completed portfolio project.

The course is structured around 3 major units:

1. Foundations and Contemporary Practice in Indigenous Planning
    a. Literature Overview of Federal Indian law and settlement, core literature and the state of reclaiming indigenous planning.
    b. Reflective Practice: Students will be asked to actively examine their individual roles in these indigenous planning settings as change agents and professionals in their respective disciplines through a reflective essay.
2. The Strategic Planning Approach
    a. 1 0 Online Modules in Strategic Local Economic Development(LED) training. Working alone through D2L/Brightspace hosted modules, students will learn a structured approach to strategic planning and will be exposed to case studies of indigenous planners engaged in strategic planning across the region.

3. Professional Project
    a. Project Pitch: Working as individuals and in small interdisciplinary groups, students will draw from foundations in traditional knowledge, US Federal Indian law, regional economics, regional planning, human development and decision-making to choose a plan to prepare and pitch a strategic plan.
    b. Document Creation: Preparation of a fictional strategic plan (ie Land Use, Local Economic Development, Natural Resource, Traditional Land Use, Climate Adaptation, Business, Energy, Housing, Water, Flood Risk, Integrated Community Development plan). Robust and creative alternatives such as a Policy Memo, Film or Creative Project are also encouraged.
    c. Professional Public Presentation: A 15 minute public presentation evaluated by a panel of indigenous elders and planning professionals, instructors and peers.

Meeting Place and Times

Online - This course co-convenes with NASX 570 Indigenous Planning


Christopher Carter, MS. Christopher J. Carter, M.Sc, RPP, CFM Christopher is a planner who has feet firmly planted in both regional planning practice and visual communication. He holds an B.Sc. with highest honors in interdisciplinary studies from MSU-Bozeman and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from University of British Columbia - Vancouver with a focus on natural resource management and disaster resilience and is a state floodplain manager. As a researcher he is active at the United Nations level, working on the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Nairobi Work Programme on Adaptation at UNFCCC climate talks since COP20 Lima and at the UN University Resilience Academy. His current research at MSU explores the intersection of Indigenous Planning practice, fractionated land and conservation with the Blackfeet Confederacy and building networks of Indigenous Planning excellence in the Northern Rockies. As a regional planner Christopher works with Indigenous Governments, cities, counties and non-governmental organizations on land use, water, flood risk, economic development, climate adaptation and environmental planning from South Asia to the High Arctic. As a filmmaker he has produced more than 50 films in 10 languages.

Time Commitment:

10-12 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • Readings and guide online and provided by instructor

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

For More Information

For course information: Please contact Christopher J. Carter,

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.