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GUS | Curriculum Guide

Panoramic photo taken from a red brick alley.  Graffiti sprinkles the left wall.  A cityscape sits outside the alley in the center of the photo

This page outlines coursework required for the Urban Systems PhD Program in Global Urban Studies.  These requirements are outlined in the GUS Advisement Form.  Students are encouraged to track their progress in the program using this form and to bring an updated copy to advisement meetings with the program's co-directors.


Please note: this guide outlines the requirement for PhD students effective Fall 2021.  Students who started the program prior to Fall 2021 should refer to the Pre-2021 Advisement Form for cohorts entering the program between Fall 2016-Fall 2020.


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

Urban Governance in Global Perspective – 26:977:618 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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.

Urban Theory and the Contemporary City – 26:977:616 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
This course surveys the work of thinkers who have shaped modern and contemporary urbanism, including critics, planners, architects, sociologists, anthropologists, activists, and geographers. The emphasis is on theoretical texts from the late 19th century to the early 21st century that have had a significant influence on the spatial and social development of cities--in their cores and their peripheries. These texts are also examined within the context of key socio-economic, cultural, political, and demographic developments, including industrialization, post-industrialization, capitalism, Marxism, colonialism, decolonization, war, segregation, im/migration, neoliberalism, gentrification, globalization and information technologies. Theoretical texts are paired with case studies that offer students the opportunity to explore the relationship between urban thought and urban action, using diverse and global examples from the mid-20th century to the present. Weekly meetings include lectures and discussions and regular student presentations. This course is reading, writing, and research intensive.  

Producing Place: Theories and Concepts in Urban Geography – 26:977:624 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
At its heart, urban geography is about place-making. As a discipline, urban geography draws on a broad range of scholarly fields in the social sciences and humanities to examine how spatial processes, embodiments, mobility and affect shape the built environment. While urban geographers approach these questions from a variety of angles, in this course we will focus on the symbolic, affective and discursive creation of cities as places of meaning, of socio-spatial inclusion and exclusion, of everyday life and spatial experience. This course presents its theories and concepts on three levels. First, it engages students with some of the classic theoretical texts about how cities are experienced, focusing on issues of embodiment, mobility, and the habitus of space, including texts by Michel de Certeau (Walking in the City), Pierre Bourdieu (Outline of a Theory of Practice), Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), David Harvey (The Right to the City), Henri Lefebvre (Rhythmanalysis), and Gernot Böhme (Atmospheres). Second, it examines concepts currently used by urban geographers to think about how cities and their inhabitants’ situational identities are delineated, including limits and margins, the phenomenology of space, sound environments, mapping, mobility, embodiment, and more. Third, it surveys specific case studies in which scholars have applied these concepts to real-world examples in global cities.


Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Research Core (14 credits)
Students are expected to take a Quantitative Methods course (3 credits), a Quantitative Methods course (3 credits), 2 research methods or theory courses (6 credits total) and 2 Urban Systems Colloquia (2 credits total).

Quantitative Methods I – (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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.

Qualitative Methods II – 26:977:621 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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 and Qualitative Field Research Methods – 26:977:624:01 (Global Urban Studies -Newark Campus)
This course is a graduate-level introduction to studying and writing about the world ethnographically. Because ethnography relies on “participant observation,” its methodology may appear easy. 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 abilities as social beings, it has broader aims that require theoretical and methodological understanding, as well as practical experience: to understand how human communities work, and to make these communities comprehensible both to ourselves and to others.  Achieving these goals is no easy task. 

Urban Systems Colloquium  26:977:TBD (Global Urban Studies -Newark Campus), 48:977:791 (Urban Systems - NJIT)
This course discusses and reviews degree requirements and current research activities in the subject area of Urban Systems. Students are expected to participate in two one-credit colloquia.

Applied Quantitative Methods – 26:977:624:04 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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.

Research Methods for Environmental Design  48:977:613 (Urban Systems - NJIT)
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. 

Econometrics - 26:220:507 (Economics - Newark Campus) 
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.

Applied Statistics  20:834:561 (School of Public Affairs and Administration - Newark Campus)
Statistical tools and techniques used to inform policy analysis and management decision-making. Covers descriptive statistics, graphing data, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, correlation, cross-tabulation, mean comparison with significance testing, and an introduction to multivariate linear regression. Encourages hands-on work with real data, use of statistical software, and the effective presentation of statistical information.

Applied Research Design  20:834:562 (School of Public Affairs and Administration - Newark Campus)
Covers issues central to understanding and conducting applied policy and management research. These issues include identifying research questions, developing logic models, selection of appropriate quantitative or qualitative methods, measuring outcomes, survey research and other sources of primary and secondary data, experimental and non-experimental strategies for evaluating programs, and the ethical and political issues involved in producing and using evidence to inform policy and practice.

GIS for Public and Nonprofit  20:834:518 (School of Public Affairs and Administration - Newark Campus)
This course introduces geographic information systems (GIS), applied visual data systems and analytics and its use in the public and non-profit sectors. Students will learn database management and design and digital cartography using popular GIS software, and how to combine the two to enhance analytic capacity. Integrating database management and spatial analysis allows students to go beyond simple mapping exercises to analyze complex public and nonprofit management problems.

Quantitative I  26:834:607 (School of Public Affairs and Administration - Newark Campus)
This course covers the design, production and analysis of quantitative data for research in public affairs and administration. It reviews quantitative theory and models, measurement, sampling, and the logic of causal inference. The course will focus attention in particular on multiple regression as a tool for data analysis as well as a framework for answering substantive, causal questions. The course will introduce students to some additional multivariate methods, such as reliability analysis, factor analysis, path analysis, and the basics of structural equation modeling. Emphasis will be on the use of statistical software and the interpretation of results, with applications to substantive research questions.

Quantitative II   26:834:608 (School of Public Affairs and Administration - Newark Campus)
This course covers various advanced, multivariate statistical techniques used in public administration and policy research. It begins with regression models for limited dependent variables, i.e., models for nominal outcomes, ordered outcomes, and count outcomes, using maximum likelihood estimation techniques. The course then covers the basics of panel data analyses and selection models. Throughout, students will be given hand-on training in the use of statistical software, the interpretation of results from real data, and the translation of results into useful summaries through tables and figures. Students are encouraged to apply the methods learned to their own datasets, including data from their on- going projects or dissertation research.

Crime Mapping and GIS for Public Safety  27:202:605 (School of Criminal Justice - Newark Campus)
This course is an examination of techniques associated with the collection, display, analysis, and storage of spatial data, and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) for mapping crime patterns and understanding related public safety issues.

Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Political Science  16:790:601 (Political Science - New Brunswick Campus)
Statistics are important to the study of political science in many ways. The word “statistics” originally referred to the collection of information for the state – government statistics were the first statistics. This class is thus an essential part of your graduate education, and not only for those of you who will go on to conduct quantitative research. The political philosophers among you should remember that Plato believed that that study of mathematics was an essential part of the education of the guardians. The postmodernists among you should remember that you must be able to understand an argument before you can deconstruct it. The practical graduate student who would prefer not to starve realizes that the best dissertations – and job talks – involve multiple methods, one of which often is quantitative. And all of you, no matter what type of research you expect to conduct, should know that without a basic understanding of the language and logic of probability and statistics it is difficult to comprehend even the simplest article in virtually any mainstream political science journal. As a side benefit, knowledge of statistics will make you a better-informed consumer of the myriad news stories that report the results of surveys and scientific studies from other disciplines.

Analysis of Sociological Data I & II  16:920:541-542 (Sociology - New Brunswick Campus)
Application of classical and modern statistical techniques to the analysis of sociological data. Problems of optimal fitting of technique to level and quality of data emphasized. First term: bivariate techniques, up to and including the analysis of variance. Second term: multivariate techniques, multiple regression, and the general linear model. Laboratory exercises required.

Introduction to Geographic Information Science for Urban Planners  34:970:591  (Edward J. Bloustein School  - New Brunswick Campus)
Introduces basic concepts of geographic information science and its computer applications.


Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Electives (15 credits) 

History of Urban Education – 26:977:611 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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 Economics for Global Urban Studies – 26:977:614 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
This course will cover the causes and consequences of urbanization from the point of view of economics. The main goal is to learn how to apply concepts, such as supply and demand, and welfare and utility theory, to understand how and why cities form and grow (or decline or collapse), and the role that government policy plays in the functioning of cities. Students are assumed to have a minimal background in economics and the course will review and cover key economic concepts that they apply to cities. Students are expected to have some basic understanding of statistical analysis, though these concepts

Urban Systems III: Globalization, Immigration and Cities – 26:977:617 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
This course examines the multidimensional processes of international migration and the ways in which migration is changing and being changed by societies, cities, policies on a global scale. By using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the course explores how global migration intersects with both the form and function of cities worldwide. Global migration has changed and taken on characters specific to the economic and historical periods. Whether it’d be the age of mass migration from Europe to North America in the mid-nineteenth century during the Industrial Revolution, or the post-1970’s contemporary migration from Southern to Northern hemisphere during the post-industrial global period. According to recent demographics, immigration comprises over ten percent of the total populations in the more traditional immigrant receiving countries such as the U.S., Canada, and countries in Western Europe. In key global cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, one out of three residents are immigrants or child of an immigrant. Undoubtedly, international migration is transforming social, economic, cultural, and political landscape of both sending and receiving countries. As such, multiple fields of social sciences have grappled with causes and consequences of international migration, human dimensions of such global migration process, as well as the social reproduction of increasing global inequality. 

The readings in this course will critically explore how process of international migration, over time and space, intersects with transnationalism, spatial mobility, immigrant incorporation, race and ethnic relations, and immigration policies. While similar physical, cultural, and social patterns have been developed in cities around the world due to international migration, there have also been new and distinct cultural, economic, political spaces that have been created in various global cities. It is worth noting that global migration rates have remained relatively stable over the past several decades. However, migration has nevertheless gained increasing political salience in recent decades given the scope of its global reach, shifting sovereignty of nation-state, increasing transnational ties, notable hyper cultural diversity, rising gap in socioeconomic structures, to name a few. Along with the increasing political significance, the topic of international migration has also taken scholarly significance in multiple fields and disciplines. The course will examine some of these key and seminal studies on international migration, from an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, paying particular attention to emerging and changing theories, findings, debates, policies both in the U.S. and abroad. 

Race, Place, and Space – 26:977:619  (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
In this seminar, we start with the basic premise that race matters. How do we understand the relationship between race, space, and power? How have complex dynamics of race shaped urban transformations and temporalities? How has the production of racial difference shaped our own experiences and relationships to urban space? Together we will survey the literature in urban studies, political science, sociology, critical geography, ethnic studies, anthropology, and other disciplines to explore how race and racialization processes are articulated in the production of urban life and entangled with other structures including class, gender, sexuality, nation, and colonialism. Topics include but are not limited to spatial segregation and urban renewal, slow violence and ecological degradation, displacement and gentrification, criminalization and immigrant detention, urban sanctuary and abolitionist futures.

Foundations of Social Theory – 26:977:624:02 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
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 franc across 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.

Postcolonial and Queer Feminist Perspectives on Global Cities – 26:977:624 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
This is an interdisciplinary course that draws on social science and feminist, queer, and trans theoretical perspectives to explore how notions and realities of class, gender, sexualities, gender identities, religious identities, cultural productions, citizenship, inequality, migration and their social and political expressions are deployed, articulated and intertwined in a world structured by postcolonial global capitalism and settler colonialism The course will explore multiple urban contexts both in the global North(s) and the global South(s) and dynamics of transnational migration and diasporas.

Writing the Dissertation Proposal – 26:977:624 (Global Urban Studies - Newark Campus)
The course provides doctoral students with a structured process to complete their dissertation proposal. The course provides in-depth discussion and readings on the components of a dissertation proposal, and a workshop setting in which students receive regular feedback from the instructor and from their peers. During the semester they will identify a Dissertation Chair, assemble their committee, draft several versions of the proposal, and practice delivering a verbal presentation in preparation for the proposal defense.

Extraordinary Life in the Public Realm  48:977:612 (Urban Systems - NJIT)
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.

Urban Economics – 26:220:553 (Economics - Newark Campus)
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 (Economics - Newark Campus)
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.

Global Political Economy – 26:478:541 (Division of Global Affairs - Newark Campus)
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.

Environmental Conflict –  26:735:525 (Peace and Conflict Studies - Newark Campus)
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 (Political Science - Newark Campus)
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 (Political Science - Newark Campus)
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.

Urban Politics & Program Evaluation – URBU 6203 (School of Nursing - Newark Campus)
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.

History of the Global Metropolis  48:977:611 (Urban Systems - NJIT)
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.

The Good City: Environmental Design and the Quality of Metropolitan Life – 48:977:615 (Urban Systems - NJIT)
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.