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.

October 11, 2017 - 4:30pm to October 12, 2017 - 4:30pm

Distinguished Humanities Lectures

Lennard J. Davis, Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of English, University of Illinois at Chicago
Washington University, Umrath Lounge
Lennard J. Davis is a leading scholar in disability studies. In these lectures, Davis discusses the aesthetics of economic inequality and the politics of neurodiversity.
October 12, 2017 - 8:00pm

The History of the Future: American Essays

Edward McPherson. assistant professor of English, Washington University
Washington University, Duncker Hall, Hurst Lounge (Room 201)
Edward McPherson is the author of three books: Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat (Faber & Faber), The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats (HarperCollins), and The History of the Future: American Essays (Coffee House Press). He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, Tin House, the American Scholar, the Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Salon, the Southern Review, Esopus, Epoch, Catapult, True Story, Literary Hub, Guernica, I.D., the New York Observer, and Talk, among others. He has received a Pushcart Prize, the Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, and the Gesell Award from the University of Minnesota, where he received his MFA. He is a contributing editor of the Common Reader. He teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.
October 14, 2017 - 1:00pm

RE: Out of Diaspora

Artist Zlatko Ćosić, Chelsea Hand (Workforce Solutions Manger, International Institute St. Louis), and Alex Elmestad (Director of Learning and Engagement, CAM)
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, 3570 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 63108