College of Arts and Science
The global world is increasingly an urban world: about half of humanity lives in cities and this trend is expected to continue apace. In the United States, over 80 percent of people live in metropolitan regions. Urban areas present enormously complex opportunities and challenges, from the perceived failure of urban public schools, to seemingly intractable racial inequalities, to the integration of a new wave of immigrants, to affordable housing, to efficient public transportation. On the other hand, cities have long been heralded as places of opportunity, spaces of economic development, entrepreneurship, and multiculturalism. Under what conditions are urban spaces socially just, diverse, and prosperous? Under what conditions do they become spaces contested by different interest groups? Cities are the canvas upon which many of the most pressing social issues of our day are being constructed. This course will give students an interdisciplinary understanding and analysis of these urban social problems, by bridging the literature on urban politics with that on urban geography. The complexity of urban issues calls for diverse perspectives in order to imagine creative responses. Approaching the urban experience from qualitative and quantitative perspectives will help students address structural as well as individual solutions to the problems urban residents face.