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Urban Studies




Admission requirements


Course description

What makes a place urban? This is a fascinating question on its own, and one that we will discuss in the course. Yet, it becomes even more interesting when we also consider that urbanization is an identifiable challenge globally. The United Nations estimates that about 67 percent of the world’s population will be living in an urban place by 2050. What challenges will accommodating so much of the global population in non-food producing spaces present?

In the introduction to their groundbreaking text City and Environment Christopher G. Boone and Ali Modarres (2006, 1-2) succinctly establish the foundation for this course in urban studies with mention how they view their object of study: “… cities are as much about the everyday life of their residents as they are about monuments.” Cities encapsulate within their geographic extent most elements of everyday human life from the home, to the market, to the workplace and spaces for leisure. Yet, within urban spaces nothing is simple, cities are vastly complex, and thus captivating, entities to study from both a scholarly and popular perspective. This course will provide merely a sampling of the various ways in which we can approach the city as scholars and citizens. Topics we will consider include urban morphology and theory, migration, public space, the environment and sustainability, rapid urbanization, and urban politics and economics. The study of cities is inherently interdisciplinary and as a result we will be exploring scholarship from geography, history, sociology, along with other disciplines. This course is intended to be a broad introduction to the study of urban spaces.

Learning objectives

  • To understand the complexity of the relationship between cities and their hinterlands.

  • To be able to identify and describe different academic approaches to studying cities and urbanization.

  • Examine what it means to be a citizen in an urban context.

  • To be able to apply ideas from the classroom to the landscape of real cities, such as The Hague or other Dutch cities.

  • Students will be able to write for a public audience on key themes in urban studies.