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


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. The establishment of CURPP comes at a time of profound social, economic and political change in our country, indeed the world. Renewed national commitment is required if we are to address and solve the challenges facing America’s cities and dense populations around the globe. Since the l970s, civic discourse has become increasingly anti-urban with fewer opportunities for informed non-partisan dialogue. However, political leaders and ordinary citizens need reliable policy research, training in methodologies and technologies, and opportunities for public discussion on issues of concern to America’s cities. As an internationally known research university, Washington University in St. Louis recognizes its responsibility to make substantial contributions to these efforts. The Center on Urban Research & Public Policy promises to fulfill this responsibility by becoming a national resource for education, research and public discussion on issues confronting America’s cities. While we are dedicated to the conduct of social science research in metropolitan America, we understand the social, economic and political nexus between ourselves and other cities of the world.


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, Cornell University and Princeton 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

To receive Latin Honors, summa cum laude, magna cum laude or cum laude, students must write an Urban Studies honors thesis and achieve an overall 3.65 GPA or higher at the end of six semesters. To be eligible to write an honors thesis in Urban Studies, you must have maintained an overall 3.65 GPA or higher throughout the sixth semester. To be awarded Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis in Urban Studies, an appointed faculty committee will consider nominations for this award, which carries a small cash prize. The award is noted in the Commencement Program and announced at the Urban Studies graduation reception.

September 15, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Measuring the Impact and Influence of Ervin Scholars

Graham Chapel
Ervin Scholar alumni headline a panel discussion in honor of the program's 30th anniversary celebration, including Fernando Cutz, director for South America, National Security Council, the White House; Jason G Green, founder and general counsel, SkillSmart, and former White House associate counsel; ShaAvhrée Buckman-Garner, director of the Office of Translational Sciences, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Morgan deBaun, co-founder, Blavity.
September 17, 2017 - 1:00pm


Missouri Historical Society, Lee Auditorium, 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, 63112
Presented in collaboration with Civic Arts Company and the University of Missouri–St. Louis First published in 1992 at the height of the furor over the Rodney King incident, Studs Terkel’s Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession was an immediate bestseller. Civic Arts Company will present this one-act theatrical adaptation by Jamie Pachino, which brings out the full complexity of the thoughts and emotions of both blacks and whites, uncovering a fascinating narrative of changing opinions. The performance will be followed by a discussion of the highly charged material by the four actors, who have been trained by the Anti-Defamation League.
September 18, 2017 - 6:30pm

Primm Lecture: Community Voices on Public Screens

Louis Massiah
Missouri Historical Society, Lee Auditorium, 5700 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, 63112
Louis Massiah, documentary filmmaker and the founder/director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, will draw on his work at the President’s House—the Transit Visions project about late 19th- and early 20th-century visions of mass transit in Philadelphia—and his video-graphic exploration of teacher, author, and community worker Toni Cade Bambara to explore how video as an artistic tool fits into a practice of change and self-determination.
September 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

Borgia Infami: Real and Imagined

Craig Monson, Dolores Pesce, and William E. Wallace
Washington University, Women's Building Formal Lounge
Reflecting on the place and importance of the Borgias in history, art, and music, the panelists will set the stage for the premiere of the opera Borgia Infami by composer Harold Blumenfeld and librettist Charles Kondek. About the panelists: Craig A. Monson, Paul Tietjens Professor Emeritus of Music, specializes in early modern Italy and England, particularly from musical and monastic perspectives. His most recent book, Habitual Offenders: A True Tale of Nuns, Prostitutes and Murderers in 17th-Century Italy, appeared last year. He is currently finishing a book on women caught poisoning their husbands in 17th-century Rome. Dolores Pesce, Avis Blewett Professor of Music, specializes in music of the Middle Ages and the late nineteenth century. Her studies of thirteenth-century motets engage issues of intertextuality and creative process. Her recent book on Franz Liszt, Liszt's Final Decade, won the 2017 Alan Walker Book Award. She is currently working on several studies of Liszt's musical language. William E. Wallace is the Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History and a specialist on Italian Renaissance Art 1300-1700. He is an internationally recognized authority on the sculptor, painter and architect, Michelangelo Buonarroti. Most recently he has completed a book, tentatively titled, God’s Architect: Michelangelo’s Late Life and Art.
September 19, 2017 - 7:00pm

History of St. Charles and Its Ghosts

Michael Henry
St. Charles City-County Library Spencer Road Branch, 427 Spencer Road, St. Peters, 63376
For most of St. Charles' long history, it could have been featured in any bad Western movie, with a legacy of street shootings and lunch mobs. It does not take much imagination to see, feel and perhaps even smell the ghosts lingering there. The scoundrels, the criminals and the victims of traumatic events are the spirits that cannot rest. Join Michael Henry, owner of St. Charles Ghost Tours, for some of their stories as he keeps vigil with representatives of the city's restless past, from the lost dogs of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the mysterious Lady in White.