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.


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 some of the research topics compiled by our distinguished graduates for their thesis requirement:

"Corruption, Corporatism and Campbell's Soup: The Story of Failed Renewal in Camden, New Jersey'"

"Independent Cities in the U.S.: Two Unique Cases of Regional Fragmentation - Case Studies of St. Louis (MO) and Baltimore (MD);" 

"Homeless Youth in Urban America;'"

"Segregation and the Suburbs: How Discrimination Keeps Minorities from Residential Freedom;"

"Sentencing War: Disparities and Injustices in Cocaine Sentencing;"

"Sentencing Youth as Adults: Childhood, Crime and Culpability;"

" Divided Space: How Baltimore's Exclusionary Housing Measures Support Segregation;"

"An Analysis of Human Trafficking Policy and Discourse in the U.S. from 1870 to the Present;"

"Youth and the 'Arab Spring': Demographics, The Economy, Perceptions and Culture in Cairo;"

"The Audy Home for Wayward Youth: One City's Response;"

"Eminent Domain, Urban Economic Development and Social Justice;"

"Pain, Trains and Automobiles: Urban Marginality and the Politics of Public Transit;"

"Charter Schools in America: The Ongoing Debate;"

"Public Subsidy, Private Development and the Public Interest: A Case Study of Public Subsidy for the Barclays Center and the Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn, New York;'"

"Public Housing in St. Louis: Pruitt-Igoe and Contemporary Design;'"

"Less Punitive, More Productive - Correcting Correctional Education: An Examination into the Roots of Post Secondary Correctional Education;"

"Bringing Hope to East St. Louis;"

"Beyond the Virus: Exploring the Social Determinants of Health Among Marginalized Populations in Urban Settings through HIV/AIDS;"

"Parole and Prisoner Re-entry in the United States;"

"The Intersection of Health Disparities, Education and Social Policy of Diabetes in the United States;"

“U.S. Refugee Policy: Implications for the Admission and Integration of Refugees of the Iraq War Since 2003;”

“Where Streets Have No Neighborhoods: Marginality and Decline in St. Louis, Missouri;”

“The Social Determinants of Health, Urbanization and Health Disparities;”

“Fighting the Free Market: Rethinking Community Benefits Agreements and Fourth-Wave Gentrification Resistance in Forest Cit yRatner’s Atlantic Yards Project;”

“Dump City: Environmental Hazards of Illegal Dumping in St. Louis;”

“ ‘Not Far From Ethiopia:’ Immigration and the Habasha Identity in Washington, D.C.;”

“Privatizing the Prison Industry in the U.S.;”

“Urban Agriculture in Post-Industrial Cities: A Case Study of Detroit and Its Implications for Future Urban Renewal;”

“Urban, Rural and Class Tensions by Comparative Advantage: Current Domestic Conflict and International Relations in Chile;”

“The Landscape of Early 21st Century Urban Detroit Efforts;”

“Public Private Partnerships: A Key Tool in Infrastructure Integration in Developing Economies;”

“Professional Sports’ Impact on Modern American Cities: The Case of the 2004 Detroit Pistons;”

“Slavery by Another Name: The Economic and Social Implications of Privatizing Prisons in the United States;”

“Climate Change and Urban Social Change: The Challenge of Our Times;”

“Subprime and Predatory Lending and Their Effect on Low-Income and Minority Communities and Homeownership;”

“East St. Louis, Illinois: Opportunities for Education and Economic Development;”

“Education Vouchers as a Tool for Urban Revitalization? A Case Study of Cleveland, Ohio;”

“The Masters in America: An Examination of the International Influence on Modern Architecture and Art’s Impact on Life;”

" 'Geography of Opportunity': A Comparatice Study of Urban Neighborhoods."

2014 Biennial Lecture: "Race and the Politics of School Choice"

Save the Date

October 15, 2014

2:00 p.m.

Delivered by Mary E. Pattillo

Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University will deliver the Biennial Lecture.

“Race and the Politics of School Choice”

At the Danforth University Center, Room 276 on the Hilltop Campus of

             Washington University in St. Louis             

Classes are welcome to attend.

This event is free and open to the public.

Reception immediately following in the Fireplace Lounge.


Co-Sponsored By:

·Interdisciplinary Program in Urban Studies  · Office of Diversity Programs, School of Medicine

·Center for the Humanities  · School of Law  ·Program in African and African – American Studies

·George Warren Brown School of Social Work  ·Department of Education  

·College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design


November 1, 2013

Urban Ills: Twenty-first-Century Complexities of Urban Living in Global Contexts (Volume I, II)

Carol Camp Yeakey (Editor) Vetta Sanders Thompson (Editor), Anjanette Wells (Editor)

Urban Ills: Twenty First Century Complexities of Urban Living in Global Contexts is a collection of original research which focuses on critical challenges and dilemmas to living in cities. Volume 1 examines both the economic impact of urban life and the social realities of urban living.  The editors define the ecology of urban living as the relationship and adjustment of humans to a highly dense, diverse and complex environment.  Volume 2 is devoted to the myriad issues involving urban health and the dynamics of urban communities and their neighborhoods. 

May 20, 2013

Confronting Suburban Poverty in America (James A. Johnson Metro)

Elizabeth Kneebone, Alan Berube

It has been nearly a half century since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. Back in the 1960s tackling poverty "in place" meant focusing resources in the inner city and in rural areas. The suburbs were seen as home to middle- and upper-class families —affluent commuters and homeowners looking for good schools and safe communities in which to raise their kids. But today's America is a very different place. Poverty is no longer just an urban or rural problem, but increasingly a suburban one as well. In Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube take on the new reality of metropolitan poverty and opportunity in America.

April 19, 2013

Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality

Patrick Sharkey

In the 1960s, many believed that the civil rights movement’s successes would foster a new era of racial equality in America. Four decades later, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, Patrick Sharkey argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades. In Stuck in Place, Sharkey describes how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system.

June 3, 2013

Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect

Robert J. Sampson
For over fifty years numerous public intellectuals and social theorists have insisted that community is dead. Some would have us believe that we act solely as individuals choosing our own fates regardless of our surroundings, while other theories place us at the mercy of global forces beyond our control. These two perspectives dominate contemporary views of society, but by rejecting the importance of place they are both deeply flawed. Based on one of the most ambitious studies in the history of social science, Great American City argues that communities still matter because life is decisively shaped by where you live.