What is urban studies?
Urban studies is the attempt to understand cities and city life. An interdisciplinary program of study, it encompasses the political institutions, economic and social relations, physical landscapes, and cultural frameworks that constitute the city. Using the conceptual tools supplied by architecture, sociology, art history, anthropology, environmental studies, economics, history, literature, and political science, urban studies both focuses on cities as distinctive entities and explores the meaning and function of cities in the larger society. Urban studies also examines the processes that produce certain patterns of human settlement and charts the changing relationships among areas shaped by urbanization, such as metropolis and countryside, city and suburb, and municipality and region.
Yale has a long intellectual tradition of grappling with the nature of urban growth and decline, the social and cultural life of cities, and the politics of urban change. In recent years, the University has made a renewed commitment to New Haven, its home for three centuries. Many students deepen their understanding of cities by becoming involved in the life of New Haven.
Faculty Advisers for Urban Studies
Yale does not have a department or major in urban studies; nevertheless, several Yale faculty members have made themselves available to advise students interested in urban studies. Advisers help students identify appropriate sequences and combinations of courses. Advisers also meet with students writing senior essays on interdisciplinary urban topics.
Faculty Advisers for 2010-2011
Gordon Geballe (Forestry & Environmental Studies)
Jay Gitlin (History)
Dolores Hayden (School of Architecture, American Studies)
Cynthia Horan (Political Science)
Alan Plattus (School of Architecture)
Douglas Rae (School of Management, Political Science)
Elihu Rubin (Architecture)
Ivan Szelenyi (Sociology)
For the 2010-2011 academic year, Cynthia Horan will serve as the primary point of contact for students interested in urban studies.
How to specialize in urban studies within your major
There is no major in urban studies at Yale College. However, several majors allow specific concentrations in urban issues: the Architecture major has an urban studies concentration; students in Ethics, Politics, and Economics (EP&E) are required to select an area of concentration, and urban studies meets this requirement; in American Studies, students interested in urban studies tend to concentrate in Material Cultures and Built Environments or Politics and American communities, but they do have the option to petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) if they prefer to be designated as an urban studies concentrator.
In other majors, students may design a self-directed concentration in urban studies, in consultation with their advisors and other faculty members. Students may also petition the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for approval of a Special Divisional Major in urban studies. Several students have been approved for a Special Divisional Major in urban studies in recent years. Official Yale College program information is found in the Yale College Programs of Study, available online at www.yale.edu/ycpo/ycps.
Courses related to urban studies are offered in many different departments, particularly African American Studies; American Studies; Architecture; Ethics, Politics, and Economics; History; Political Science; and Sociology. The introductory course Study of the City is also offered each year; details about this course and other urban studies classes may be found in the classes section of this guide.
Special opportunities for urban studies students
Perspectives on the City, a seminar specifically designed for sophomores interested in urban studies, is offered yearly in the Spring semester.
Perspectives on the City
Introduction to the range of disciplines and methods appropriate to exploring the character and evolution of cities. Each week a scholar from a different field discusses that discipline's approach and methodology in its study of urban life.
A structured series of weekly discussions with faculty whose work involves some aspect of city life viewed in regional, national, and international settings, both historical and contemporary. Specialists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds such as history, architecture, economics, social policy, political science, anthropology, and sociology will present their work each week and the class will read and discuss topically-relevant works in each field. This course is open to sophomores only and is designed for students interested in exploring the issues and methodologies that currently define approaches to urban studies.