Urban landscapes differ dramatically from other spaces on the planet in their physical structure, economic base, governance patterns, and intensity of social interactions. Cities are often characterized by striking inequalities in income distribution, social and spatial mobility, access to resources, and forms of cultural expression. Conflicting social forces and economic processes make urban areas vibrant and complex phenomena, and cities are often presented as both the problem and the solution for a sustainable future. This course introduces analysis of contemporary urban systems, with an emphasis on spatial and geographic patterns and processes. We will examine the contradictions and conflicts inherent in the development of U.S. and international cities, as well as the centrality of urban system development in the evolution of local and global political economies. Lectures, discussions, and field trips will provide both theoretical frameworks and contextualized experiences of urban social life. Our examinations of the changing economic, social, political, and environmental dynamics of cities will focus on a wide range of topics, including economic processes, governmental management, urban form, land use, housing, migration, transportation, socioenvironmental justice, and political ecology, among others.
Students entering 2012 and after: satisfies Social-Scientific Thought distribution requirement.
Students entering before 2012: satisfies Social Science distribution requirement.
Satisfies a major requirement in Environmental Studies.
Satisfies a major requirement in Sociology.
Satisfies an interdisciplinary minor requirement in Environmental Studies.
No prerequisites are required.