Urban Studies

Course Listing

Urban Studies

The Barnard–Columbia Urban Studies program enables students to explore and understand the urban experience in all of its richness and complexity. It recognizes the city as an amalgam of diverse peoples and their social, political, economic, and cultural interactions within a distinctive built environment. Students study the evolution and variety of urban forms and governance structures, which create opportunities for, as well as constrain, the exercise of human agency, individual and collective. They explore the place of the city in different historical and comparative contexts, as well as in the human imagination.

Majors build an intellectual foundation that combines interdisciplinary coursework and a concentration of study within a single field. Through the two-semester junior colloquium, students study urban history and contemporary issues, and at the same time hone their interdisciplinary, analytical and research skills. This shared experience prepares them for their independent research project in their senior year. We encourage our majors to use New York City as a laboratory, and many courses draw on the vast resources of the city and include an off-campus experience.

The Barnard–Columbia Urban Studies program offers courses in urban sociology, science and technology in urban environments, urban case studies in spacial analysis, community building and economic development, urban development, civic engagement, and social entrepreneurship.

For questions about specific courses, contact the department:

Program Office: 236 Milbank
212-854-4073
Office Hours: By appointment

Web: urban.barnard.edu


Directory of Classes

The course information displayed on this page relies on an external system and may be incomplete. Please visit Urban Studies on the Directory of Classes for complete course information.

After finding your course in the Directory of Classes, click on the section number to open an expanded view. The "Open To" field will indicate whether the course is open to School of Professional Studies students. If School of Professional Studies is not included in the field, students may still be able to cross-register for the course by obtaining permission after being admitted to an academic program.


URBS UN3545 Junior Colloquium: The Shaping of the Modern City. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Non-majors admitted by permission of instructor. Students must attend first class. Enrollment limited to 16 students per section. General Education Requirement: Historical Studies.

Introduction to the historical process and social consequences of urban growth, from the middle of the nineteenth century to the present.

Fall 2018: URBS UN3545
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
URBS 3545 001/01098 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
227 Milbank Hall
Mary Rocco 4 15/15
URBS 3545 002/09802 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
406 Barnard Hall
Alexandra Freidus 4 12/15
URBS 3545 003/03273 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
304 Hamilton Hall
Kathryn Yatrakis 4 12/15

URBS V3200 Spatial Analysis: GIS Methods and Urban Case Studies. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Quantitative and Deductive Reasoning (QUA).

Prerequisites: Must attend first class for instructor permission. Preference to Urban Studies majors. Only 24 admitted.

Introduction to spatial analysis using state of-the-art GIS (Geographic Information Systems) mapping and analysis software to apply quantitative analytical methods to real-world urban issues. Will include basic coverage of applied statistics. Case studies will focus on subjects like environmental justice, voting patterns, transportation systems, segregation, public health, redevelopment trends, and socio-economic geography.

URBS V3308 Introduction to Urban Ethnographies. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC II).

Prerequisites: Students must attend first class.

This course explores how scholars from different social science disciplines have used ethnography to understand how immigrants and rural migrants experience as well as affect cities. Community, work, and health, in cities within and outside the US, are used as lenses. Students will also perform their own ethnographic research.

URBS V3315 Metropolitics of Race and Place. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).

Prerequisites: Students must attend first class.

Course explores how the central cities and suburbs that make up American metropolitan areas are increasingly shaped by race/ethnicity. Class discussion and readings will trace the role of social scientists, foundations, urban planners, government actors, and private economic interests in this transformation of metropolitan American. The current consequences of the conflation of race/ethnicity and space on the regional landscape, such as gentrification, suburban sprawl, the mortgage foreclosure crisis, etc. will be the focus of student research and class projects.

URBS V3420 Introduction to Urban Sociology. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC II).

Prerequisites: Students must attend first class.

Examines the diverse ways in which sociology has defined and studied cities, focusing on the people who live and work in the city, and the transformations U.S. cities are undergoing today. Sociological methods, including ethnography, survey research, quantitative studies, and participant observation will provide perspectives on key urban questions such as street life, race, immigration, globalization, conflict, and redevelopment.

URBS V3427 Imagining and Narrating the Urban. 3 points.

This course will explore the experience of urban space by examining how it is described in fine- grained, ethnographic accounts and in the thought experiments undertaken by science fiction writers. The purpose of the course is to focus on the evocation of the urban experience - how do we record or preserve what the city feels like as a physical place. Privileging the experience of space in this context is an attempt to complement conventional urban research that examines the dynamics of urban social life often without locating it in relation to the built environment of the city. Incorporating speculative or science fiction adds an experimental dimension (what would the city be like if...?) and emphasizes narrative, arguing that how exactly we describe and reproduce our experience is significant. Further, it raises an epistemological question about how we come to know what we know: can fiction "teach" us about the empirical world? How?

URBS V3464 Urban Ecologies and Grand Infrastructure: Metropolitan Planning Issues. 3 points.

This lecture course is designed around different issues of metropolitan regions around the worlds that govern and plan urbanized, risky and vulnerable ecological systems and consequently large-scale urban interventions that change the landscapes of the regions. The reality of an age of drastic climate change and increasing number of natural disasters in urbanized regions raises issues of resilience and ecological governance. Metropolitan regions and the planning politics that lie beneath the regional plans and strategic initiatives are critical in the mitigation of some of these risks and in the understanding of regional politics. Historical and contemporary case studies will prepare the students to conduct their own critical analysis and reading of a case where several themes discussed in class will be further explored.

URBS V3530 Urban Development: A Rubik's Cube of Policy Choices. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Must attend first class for instructor permission. Preference to Urban Studies majors. Only 16 admitted.

Using case studies, examines the rationale for urban development, the players involved and how decisions are made about the distribution of public and private resources. Studies the specific components of the development process and the myriad policy questions that large-scale development is meant to address. Examines the disconnect among stakeholders' objectives - the developer, the financial institution that pays for the project, the government and the community.

URBS V3546 Junior Colloquium: Contemporary Urban Issues. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Non-majors admitted by permission of instructor. Students must attend first class. Enrollment limited to 16 students per section.

Evaluation of current political, economic, social, cultural and physical forces that are shaping urban areas.

URBS V3550 Community Building and Economic Development. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Must attend first class for instructor permission. Preference to Urban Studies majors.

Community building has emerged as an important approach to creating an economic base, reducing poverty and improving the quality of life in urban neighborhoods. In this course, students examine the methods, strategies, and impact of community building on the economic, social, and political development of urban neighborhoods.

URBS V3725 New York City's Gilded Ages: Coming of Age, Past and Present. 4 points.

Lab Required

A lecture class + digital laboratory on New York City's two Gilded Ages. Student learn basics of digital photography and web design to develop a virtual exhibit on seminar's theme of "Coming of Age." In addition to class sessions held at Barnard, students will have at least 3 class sessions at NYHS with curators; and at least 3 class sessions at ICP. Digital fellows will augment instruction in digital tools necessary to complete the project. In addition to training in digital techniques studenst will also analyze and discuss selected readings on the history, politics and economics of the NYC's two Gilded Ages; urban space, culture and consumption; the ethcs of ethnographic field research; and virtual exhibition and design.

URBS V3833 New York City: Politics and Governing. 4 points.

This course will examine through readings, class discussions, and in class debate, the complex politics and governing of New York City- the key political institutions, and who holds urban political power, voting and elections, and the changing roles of the electorate will be covered.  We will examine the structure or New York City government and how the New York City Budget is developed and adopted; the interplay between Mayoral and City council powers, the city charter, the process of governing and the role of political parties, special interest groups, lobbyists and labor unions. We will look back in the City’s political history and consider that time in the mid 1970’s when New York City suffered a major fiscal crisis and was close to financial bankruptcy.  In this context, New York City’s relationships with the state and federal governments will also be covered.          

URBS V3920 Social Entrepreneurship. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).

Prerequisites: Must attend first class for instructor permission. Preference to Urban Studies majors. General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC). Only 16 admitted.

Introduction to the main concepts and processes associated with the creation of new social enterprises, policies, programs, and organizations; criteria for assessing business ventures sponsored by non-profits and socially responsible initiatives undertaken by corporations; specific case studies using New York City as a laboratory. To be offered Fall 2011.

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