curriculum guide

Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Core Requirements  (9 credits)

Globalization, International Migration and Contemporary Cities – 26:977:617

This course focuses on how global processes affect both the form and function of cities in the United States and worldwide. It examines the cultural, social, economic, and spatial features of cities in historical and comparative contexts. From an interdisciplinary perspective, it analyzes theories of international migration, and globalization, as well as how urban governance and built systems can create and limit opportunities for various individuals and collectives in cities. The course will investigate what characteristics of global processes affect cities, how they operate in historical context, how urban actors respond, and what benefits and problems they may produce in contemporary cities. Using theories developed in interdisciplinary fields such as sociology, anthropology, political science, geography, urban studies, health, and environment, the students will learn to apply concepts and methods from more than one social science discipline to analyze urban issues and problems. Readings will draw from specific case studies of cities from countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.


Urban Governance in Global Perspective – 26:977:TBD

This course examines theory and practice of governance – the interactions of state and non-state actors in decision making, problem identification, program development and implementation. It considers theoretical approaches for studying the balance of power in cities, as well for analyzing who takes part in decision making and how; how, why, and when do policies and programs change; which voices and actors experience marginalization and exclusion and why. Course readings consider how and whether governance theories and practices travel across space, for example from Global North to South and vice versa, or across various regions. The course pays particular attention to the roles of NGOs both locally and through national and international networks in policy change and implementation. Students apply theoretical and empirical literature to urban issues of their choosing in sites of their choosing.


The Good City: Environmental Design and the Quality of Metropolitan Life - 48:977:615

In the 21st century, the good city is as elusive as ever. Yet now, planners, architects, urban designers, and many citizens recognize that what was once deemed good, and was widely built, has generated serious problems. For example, neither low-density, single-use, residential suburbs dependent on the automobile nor high-density residential towers in urban open space have proved to be the ideals envisioned. Why is that? Why were they considered good? What are the alternatives? And what are other aspects of the good city that are being proposed and implemented today? In addressing these questions, it is essential to examine the goals and values that shape both our visions of the good city and our critiques of the visions of others. The purpose of this course is to introduce Urban Systems doctoral students to the various ways in which architects, urban designers, and planners have sought and continue to seek to improve the quality of everyday life in urban and suburban environments through the design of the built environment, both at the scale of neighborhoods and communities and at the scale of buildings. The emphasis is on the manipulation of built form, transportation, and public space as responses to perceived problems. Key topic areas are housing and neighborhoods, public space, transportation, schools, and hospitals. Students come to understand the problems recognized, the design solutions proposed and/or implemented, and the critiques and consequences that ensued.


History of the Global Metropolis - 48:977:611

This graduate seminar introduces students to the formal and cultural evolution of the global metropolis in historical and contemporary perspectives, with a focus on transnational developments in the industrial and post-industrial eras. As a core Urban Systems course, emphasis is on the intersection of social, economic, political, geographic, and environmental conditions that gave rise to distinct metropolitan areas and that have influenced urban populations for more than three centuries. The course includes a chronological overview of metropolitan settlement, growth, decline and revitalization along with case studies that provide the opportunity to examine the past and present of specific urban areas in the developed and developing worlds. The course pays particular attention to the global migration of urban/suburban morphologies and architectural typologies during the past half century—especially as they relate to changing transportation infrastructures. Course format includes lectures and discussions of readings, as well as student research presentations. The interdisciplinary nature of urban systems is stressed throughout.

Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Electives (18 credits)

Determinants and Consequences of Urban Health – 49:977:630

This interdisciplinary course examines the determinants and consequences of health status in urban populations. Health is an outcome of micro- and macro level factors, including those that operate at the level of the individual, family, neighborhood, community, state, and nation. Analysis includes the effect on health status of government policies, economics, and demography and community characteristics. Ethics of access, funding, and inequality explored. The examination of the effect of poor mental and physical health on the development of human capital, poverty, community organization, and local government is particularly relevant to understanding urban health. Child health and family health problems examined in the context of urban environment's contribution to issues such as infant mortality, asthma, lead poisoning, nutritional deficiencies, and violence. Current health issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and substance abuse explored with a focus on the evaluation of current research in urban environments. The course considers innovative policies and practices that can lead to improvements in health status and human capital formation.


Extraordinary Life in the Public Realm - 48:977:612

Urban public space is the scene of diverse but largely ordinary activities including all manner of circulation, recreation, athletics and commerce. However, sidewalks and streets, parks and squares also host collective events outside of the everyday routine such as parades, festivals and demonstrations.

In this seminar we will examine those events that have either a religious or a political dimension. We will take a historical and an international perspective, drawing from existing scholarship as well as from media accounts in text, photographs and film. We will pay particular attention to the choreography of the event in relation to physical design features of the space, the signs and other items participants carried, what they wore particular movements or gestures they adopted and slogans or songs that were used. All of these features help to bring the event out of the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

Students will make in-class presentations of a particular case of a demonstration parade or festival and will pursue a course-long research project on a topic of their choice.


Foundations of Social Theory – 26:977:624:02 (26:735:502)

This course provides a graduate level introduction to the works of the classical theorists who laid the foundations for modern social thought with additional coverage of theorists who have developed and expanded upon classical theoretical themes. Students will acquire competence in concepts, methods and critical visions of modernity that are the lingua francaacross many otherwise disparate fields in the social sciences today. Major emphasis will be given to the thought of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber.


Global Political Economy – 26:478:541

This course offers a global perspective on long term change in the world economy, and the interaction between countries, regulatory systems and organizations. Attention is especially focused on the dynamics of international trade and investment, including the relationship between trade and economic growth, trade imbalances and protectionism, foreign direct investment and the role of MNCs in the global economy. The role of economic, social and political institutions is also a central feature of our discussion, including the international trading and financial systems, national institutional environments, and the interaction between multinational companies and both the state and multilateral institutions.


History of Urban Education – 26:977:611

Provides an examination of the history of urban education in the United States. Through an exploration of the development of urban school systems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through the rise and decline of urban schools by the 1960s, to the development of urban educational policies designed to improve urban schools from the 1990s into the 21st century, the course provides a historical foundation for understanding urban educational policy. Among the topics discussed are the urbanization of city education; the rise of bureaucracy and scientific management; the Progressive Era and urban education; suburbanization and its effects on urban schools; desegregation and urban schooling; deindustrialization and its effects on urban schools; issues of equity versus excellence; urban educational reform from the 1990s to the present; issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity in historical perspective.


Urban Education Policy & School Improvement – 26:977:613

Provides an overview of major issues and controversies in urban educational policy. Through a historical, sociological, and political analysis of educational problems, the course explores a variety of policy initiatives and reforms, including curriculum and learning standards, school choice, tuition vouchers, charter schools, privatization, and whole school reform. Through an analysis of case studies of urban Abbott districts in New Jersey, including the three state takeover districts--Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark--this course provides prospective administrators with an understanding of the complexities of urban school reform and improvement.


Urban Politics & Program Evaluation – URBU 6203

This course is designed to provide students with a framework for understanding program evaluation and facilitating integration of program evaluation. Content will address both the science of evaluation and topics will include goals, methodologies, standards, and address misconceptions regarding the evaluation process. The emphasis is on practical, ongoing evaluation strategies that involve all program stakeholders, not just evaluation experts.


Urban Economics – 26:220:553

Role of cities in the growth of regions; theories of urban growth; models of urban land use; poverty, housing, crime, and transportation; local government tax and expenditure policy.


Economics of Immigration and Gender - 26:220:685

This course consists of two parts. In the first part we focus on the economics of immigration and in the second economics of gender. We begin with a brief history of immigration in the U.S., including a contrast of the immigration in the early twentieth century from the new immigrants. The course details the labor market impact of immigration (both theory and empirics), including the effect of high skilled immigration, impact on natives employment and wages. It also covers immigrant assimilation, ethnic capital, and the generation effect. This course as well focuses on immigrant networks and its effect on trade creation and immigrant’s employment and wages. It compares and contrasts immigration into the U.S. with Europe. If time permits it focuses on one or two contemporary issues such as illegal immigration, effect of immigration on housing, and immigrant and the recent health care reform. In the second part of this course we cover some topics on economics of gender including the economics of marriage and family, female labor participation in the major developed countries, and gender wage gap (including occupational segregation and discrimination). Both theory and empirics are covered. These topics are also discussed for immigrants as well as natives. We will end the semester with a discussion on the catching up of women in the U.S. and compare it to the other major European countries.


Environmental Conflict –  26:735:525

Competition over territory and natural resources often leads to social conflict. This course focuses on the ways power dynamics shape landscapes, cause conflict, and exacerbate problems of ecological scarcity and degradation. Historical and ethnographic case studies illuminate the ways environmental conflicts have been framed by policymakers, social scientists, and people on the ground. These include, for example, the forceful displacement of Native Americans for the creation of national parks in the United States, the seizure of African savannah by British colonialists for large-game hunting preserves, the delimitation of rain forest by states and NGOs for biodiversity protection and ecotourism, and the enforcement of international bans against killing endangered species in regions where poverty is acute. Texts explore influential theories of environmental conflict, such as the "tragedy of the commons," scarcity-induced violence, political ecology, postcolonial mindsets, and overpopulation, as well as scholarly critiques of these perspectives.


Policymaking in the American Political System – 26:790:501

This course is designed to expose students to various characteristics of policymaking in the American political system. Relying broadly, but not limited to, political science research, we will examine some of the political institutions and key actors that develop American public policy. We will consider several venues for policymaking – including agenda setting, legislation, and interest group activity – and examine how political institutions shape and constrain policymaking at the local, state, and national level.


Global Environmental Issues – 26:790:538

This is a graduate course focused on the global environmental "problematique" and the ways in which it is being played out in a variety of political and policy arenas. Apart from introducing the student to the concepts and literature in global environmental politics, the course is intended to provide students with insights into:

  • The political structure and context of transnational environmental issues;
  • The ways in which individuals are implicated in these issues;
  • The intergovernmental mechanisms established for addressing environmental problems;
  • The treatment of environmental problems that occur in many different places but are not necessarily linked;
  • Transnational environmental activity, including that through social movements, non-governmental organizations, and corporate actors.

Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Research Methods Core (6 credits)

Quantitative Methods I – 49:977:631 (URBU 6103) 

This is an advanced course in quantitative social science research methods. Together, the students and instructor will critically examine a large number of peer-reviewed journal articles with the goal of enhancing each student's understanding of the logic and application of quantitative research methods.


Qualitative Methods I – 26:977:620

This course introduces you—a doctoral student—to the history, philosophy, and methods of qualitative research. By examining critically the evolution of qualitative methodology, forms of qualitative research, ways to conduct and report qualitative inquiry, as well as examples and critiques of qualitative studies, students will understand how to choose a qualitative method for their research inquiry.

Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Research Methods Electives (6 credits)

Feminist Research and Methods - 26:988:570

This is an interdisciplinary course that examines approaches to research and research methodologies used by feminist scholars to study intersectional issues related to women, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, racism, class, and other sources of structural inequalities. This course also serves as the research methods course for the political science department, and will acquaint the graduate student with some of the basic approaches used by political scientists in their research. The course is designed to expand the graduate student’s knowledge of feminist methods in the social sciences and humanities, and to encourage discussion and critical thinking about contemporary debates among feminist and gender studies scholars on epistemology and the nature of research. The course will also provide the graduate student with basic tools to apply qualitative social science feminist research methods in their own research and/or to understand the ways that feminist research and methods have brought new questions, ideas, and knowledge to a particular area of the student’s area of study.


Qualitative Methods II – 26:977:621

In this doctoral-level course, through the readings, assignments, and discussions you will have three foci: (1) study different qualitative inquiry approaches; (2) create a rationale for a qualitative inquiry that will be your dissertation study (or a hypothetical one), by developing a qualitative research design, including data production, data analysis and representation, and validation; and (3) use information and communication technologies (ICT) for producing, analyzing, and presenting qualitative data. You will produce data from a focus group interview and interpret your data using content or another discourse analytic technique.


Ethnographic Methods - 26:977:624:01

This course is a graduate level introduction to studying and writing about the world ethnographically. Because it relies on the method of “participant observation,” ethnography may appear to be an easy task. We spend our whole lives embedded in and thinking about our social worlds; how hard can it be to participate and observe? But, while the work of ethnography relies on our basic abilities as social beings, it has broader aims that require theoretical and methodological understanding, as well as practice: to understand how human communities work, and to translate and make those communities comprehensible both to ourselves and to others who stand outside those communities.


Applied Quantitative Methods - 26:977:624:04

This course will discuss survey research methodology and secondary data analysis. Basic computational methods for analysis will be taught alongside a strongly tailored emphasis on individual projects with concrete analyses from empirical, quantitative data sources. We will incorporate a larger discussion of survey and sampling methodology as well. Depending on our needs, we may incorporate how to clean and manage data and workflow. Students will use the statistical package STATA, available on lab pcs and through remote access.


Econometrics - 26:220:507

Econometrics, literally “economic measurement,” is a branch of economics that attempts to quantify theoretical relationships.This course presents topics in econometrics including a classical linear regression model and some advanced topics. This course will have both a theoretical and an applied econometrics components. There will be a focus on using econometrics software in estimating econometrics models learned during the semester and interpreting the results. Students will also learn to read journal articles applying various econometric models and presenting the findings.


Introduction to Geographic Information Science for Urban Planners - 34:970:591  

Introduces basic concepts of geographic information science and its computer applications.


Research Methods for Environmental Design - 48:977:613

This course focuses on the understanding and application of a variety of research methods used in architectural and urban research that could be used to make design choices and recommendations. Our purpose is to understand these methods and to learn to use them through hands-on exercises. A key focus throughout the course is developing and examining the logical connections between: given research question or research objective, the method devised to address the questions or objectives and the interpretation of findings.