Public intellectuals increasingly praise cities for innovation in policy and governance. Urban civic leaders work pragmatically to forge partnerships and devise solutions, standing in contrast to gridlocked national governments. Yet cities are sites of deep, persistent inequalities across increasingly diverse groups of people. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, and urbanization picking up speed in the fastest-growing countries in the world, universities – especially those located in cities -- have many important roles to play. One such role is contributing to collaborative problem solving and knowledge production. The complexity of interlocking problems and of multicultural populations requires scholars to take interdisciplinary and diverse social-scientific approaches to research. The Global Urban Studies track within the Joint PhD program in Urban Systems will train the next generation of urban social scientists in just this way, and to produce impact-oriented scholarship that contributes to Rutgers-Newark’s role as an engaged institution both locally and globally.
We believe that cross-national comparative study is integral to Urban Studies in the 21st century, and that the study of cities is becoming increasingly global. Of the Urban Studies programs at US universities, few of them distinguish themselves as global in reach, with robust research agendas, curriculum, and programming focusing on the international and comparative aspects of urban studies. Moreover, further understanding and conversation around issues of urbanization in a global and comparative context would interest and serve the diverse student body, and the diverse populations and institutions of our larger metropolitan area.
At Rutgers-Newark, a focus on Global Urban Studies makes sense given the scholarly expertise on campus, and its history of commitment to global studies. Faculty at Rutgers-Newark who study urban issues here have connections with communities and scholars, and do cross-national research, in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and North America.
Jamie Lew and Mara Sidney
Mara Sidney, Co-director
Department of Political Science