Dedicated to the Conduct of Social Science Research in Metropolitan America and Beyond

Welcome!

As the Founding Director of the Center on Urban Research & Public Policy (CURPP) and the Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies, I welcome you to our website.

Programs

Why is the study of urban life, of living in cities an important area of study?  The answer is simple.  Because of increasing urbanization, that is, the dynamics resulting from people moving into densely populated areas, worldwide projections show the increase in urban populations everywhere.  Not only are world cities growing by one million people per week, but demographers suggest that by 2050, more than two thirds of the planet’s population will be urban dwellers.  The issues impacting our densely populated cities and those who inhabit them will be the focus of substantive research and policy debates in the twenty first century. Because we seek to prepare our students to be leaders on the world stage, in-depth study in urbanism and urbanization on both a national and international scale is in keeping with that preparation.

Student Alumni

Students graduating with an undergraduate major in Urban Studies have been accepted into some of the premier graduate schools in the country, including but not limited to the Harvard University Law School, the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Duke University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Yale University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Georgetown University, Washington University in St. Louis and Cornell University among others.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the Urban Studies program, students have chosen graduate fields of study in law, medicine, public health, public policy, urban planning, art, international and global studies, education, and foreign affairs. All graduating students in Urban Studies must complete a senior thesis or senior honors thesis, some of which have been published in subsequent research journals.

The following list provides the research topics of works in progress by the graduating seniors in the class of 2015:

"The Big Business of Community Real Estate Development in the Post-Industrial City"

"(Dis) Investment: The Effects of Gentrification in Central Harlem"

"The Death and Life of Great American Shopping Malls: A Cultural Appraisal of Americas Shopping Habits (Past, Present and Future)"

"Arts Education in Urban Settings for Marginalized Youth"

"Urban Communities and Police: The Effects of a Militarized Police Force"

"Battyman Fi Dead: How Buggery Laws Impact the LGBT Population in Kingston, Jamaica"

"Affordable Housing in Mixed-Income Communities: Impacts on Community and Economic Development"

"Intent and Accident: Resistance Through Informed Development"

"Who Wins, Who Loses? : Host Cities and the Olympic Games"

Urban Studies Honors and Awards

Latin Honors Per Arts & Sciences requirements, to receive Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude) in Urban Studies, Students must write and Urban Studies honors thesis and achieve an overall GPA of 3.65 or higher at the end of eight semesters. In order to be eligible to write an honors thesis in Urban Studies, you must have maintained an overall 3.65 GPA throughout the sixth semester. Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis in Urban Studies Urban Studies faculty consider nominations for these awards, which carry a small cash prize. This award is noted in the Commencement Program and announced at the Urban Studies graduation reception.
December 4, 2014

The New Urban Question

Andy Merrifield
'The New Urban Question' is an exuberant and illuminating adventure through our current global urban condition, tracing the connections between radical urban theory and political activism. From Haussmann's use of urban planning to rid 19th-century Paris of revolution to contemporary urban disaster-zones such as downtown Detroit, Merrifield reveals how the urban experience has been profoundly shaped by class antagonism and been the battle-ground for conspiracies, revolts and social eruptions. Going beyond the work of earlier urban theorists such as Manuel Castells, Merrifield identifies the new urban question that has emerged and demands urgent attention, as the city becomes a site of active plunder by capital and the setting for new forms of urban struggle, from Occupy to the Indignados.
December 9, 2014

The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance

Stephen Goldsmith
Leveraging Big Data and 21st century technology to renew cities and citizenship in America The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance. The Responsive City is a guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help leaders link important breakthroughs in about technology and big data analytics with age-old lessons of small-group community input to create more agile, competitive, and economically resilient cities. Featuring vivid case-studies highlighting the work of individuals in New York, Boston, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, Indiana, and Chicago, the book provides a compelling model for the future of cities and states. The authors demonstrate how digital innovations will drive a virtuous cycle of responsiveness centered on "empowerment" : 1) empowering public employees with tools to both power their performance and to help them connect more personally to those they service, 2) empowering constituents to see and understand problems and opportunities faced by cities so that they can better engage in the life of their communities, and 3) empowering leaders to drive towards their missions and address the grand challenges confronting cities by harnessing the predictive power of cross-government Big Data, the book will help mayors, chief technology officers, city administrators, agency directors, civic groups and nonprofit leaders break out of current paradigms in order to collectively address civic problems. Co-authored by Stephen Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis, and current Director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School and Susan Crawford, co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The Responsive City highlights the ways in which leadership, empowered government employees, thoughtful citizens, and 21st century technology can combine to improve government operations and strengthen civic trust. It provides actionable advice while exploring topics like: Visualizing service delivery and predicting improvement Making the work of government employees more meaningful Amplification and coordination of focused citizen engagement Big Data in big cities - stories of surprising successes and enormous potential
December 9, 2014

Concrete Jungle: New York City and Our Last Best Hope for a Sustainable Future

Niles Eldredge and Sidney Horenstein
If they are to survive, cities need healthy chunks of the world’s ecosystems to persist; yet cities, like parasites, grow and prosper by local destruction of these very ecosystems. In this absorbing and wide-ranging book, Eldredge and Horenstein use New York City as a microcosm to explore both the positive and the negative sides of the relationship between cities, the environment, and the future of global biodiversity. They illuminate the mass of contradictions that cities present in embodying the best and the worst of human existence. The authors demonstrate that, though cities have voracious appetites for resources such as food and water, they also represent the last hope for conserving healthy remnants of the world’s ecosystems and species. With their concentration of human beings, cities bring together centers of learning, research, government, finance, and media—institutions that increasingly play active roles in solving environmental problems.
December 9, 2014

Purging the Poorest: Public Housing and the Design Politics of Twice-Cleared Communities (Historical Studies of Urban America)

Lawrence J. Vale
The building and management of public housing is often seen as a signal failure of American public policy, but this is a vastly oversimplified view. In Purging the Poorest, Lawrence J. Vale offers a new narrative of the seventy-five-year struggle to house the “deserving poor.” In the 1930s, two iconic American cities, Atlanta and Chicago, demolished their slums and established some of this country’s first public housing. Six decades later, these same cities also led the way in clearing public housing itself. Vale’s groundbreaking history of these “twice-cleared” communities provides unprecedented detail about the development, decline, and redevelopment of two of America’s most famous housing projects: Chicago’s Cabrini-Green and Atlanta’s Techwood /Clark Howell Homes. Vale offers the novel concept of design politics to show how issues of architecture and urbanism are intimately bound up in thinking about policy. Drawing from extensive archival research and in-depth interviews, Vale recalibrates the larger cultural role of public housing, revalues the contributions of public housing residents, and reconsiders the role of design and designers.
December 4, 2014

The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit

Thomas J. Sugrue
Once America’s “arsenal of democracy,” Detroit is now the symbol of the American urban crisis. In this reappraisal of America’s racial and economic inequalities, Thomas Sugrue asks why Detroit and other industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today’s urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.