Great Teachers, Great Courses...

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Professor Gail Eisenberg’s Marketing Research class takes on community problems and delivers winning solutions.

The 19th Street Theatre District has been called Allentown’s Greenwich Village. Just a few blocks east of the Muhlenberg campus, 19th Street is an oasis of shops, restaurants and coffee houses, all anchored by the Nineteenth Street Theater.

The area has been gaining popularity with Muhlenberg students, something that President Randy Helm seeks to encourage. He sees Allentown as a rich urban laboratory that provides opportunities for students to contribute, learn and enjoy.

Enter Professor Gail Eisenberg, lecturer in business and accounting. With backing from President Helm, Eisenberg’s Marketing Research class undertook a study of the 19 th Street District to evaluate the potential of the area as a local attraction for students.

The class held a focus group with Muhlenberg students to assess perceptions of the area, questioned neighbors in the community about possible improvement ideas and spoke with business leaders to determine the extent they were interested in Muhlenberg students as customers.

As a result, the initiative transformed into the West End Theatre District, a partnership of neighbors, the community and local businesses in the theatre district. This group is looking at streetscapes, facade improvements and marketing initiatives to enhance the district. The students also created a promotional brochure to highlight the district’s features.

Eisenberg’s students have enjoyed working on community-based projects such as the West End Theatre District for the last 10 years. Because class size is limited to a maximum of 20 students, the entire class enjoys a significant amount of one-on-one time with Eisenberg.

Past projects have included the Lehigh Valley Tourism Board, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels. The class identifies a need, and utilizing the skills learned in the classroom, presents a lasting solution.

"The students do a really great job,” says Eisenberg. “Through the marketing classes, they learn valuable skills, but, best of all, they become better human beings.”

Would you like to learn more about our Great Teachers and Great Courses? Take a look at our other stories to see the many aspects of our unique, boundary-breaking community.