This program is no longer accepting new student applications.
This minor focuses on the interplay between urban issues and urban policy. Every metropolitan area must address such enduring issues as poverty, housing, homelessness, transportation, education, crime, safety, recreation, and economic development. Each urban community must do so with an understanding of its unique social mix and neighborhood relations, and with recognition of its place in wider regional, national, and global networks. Students identify and analyze central issues and social problems of urbanization and explore and assess various ways decision-makers respond to these issues. This minor is closed to students majoring in sociology and anthropology who have chosen the urban studies track.
The Urban Experience
Choose four of the following:*
Immigration to the U.S.
This course examines immigration to the U.S. within the context of globalization. We examine the push- and pull-factors that generate immigration, and changing immigration policies and debates. We consider how changes in the American workplace have stimulated the demand for foreign workers in a wide range of occupations, from software engineer to migrant farmworker and nanny. We review the cultural and emotional challenges of adapting within the American cultural landscape, transnationalism and connections with the homeland, the experiences of refugees, and how immigration has changed since 9/11. Special attention is given to immigration from Latin America, the largest sending region.
Archaeology of Cities
The long course of the human existence has been marked by a series of revolutions that have profoundly changed society and that ultimately produced the world we live in today. One of the key revolutions that made our world possible was the invention of urbanism. Cities first appeared in Mesopotamia about 6,000 years ago and since then have been independently invented in many different parts of the world. This course focuses on the prehistorical trajectories of urban development in different world regions, the multiple roles of cities, and their impact on the development of complex societies. We attempt to understand and explain how the city has developed and contributed to the constitution of modern society. Throughout the course we will work on developing a working definition of the city that encompasses urbanism in all its many forms.
This course examines the impact of global dynamics on cities from the early 20th century to the present. By tracing urban formations from metropolis to global city, emphasis will be placed on the making of identities, communities, and citizens in the architectural spaces, cultural places, ethnic zones, and media traces of urban life in the context of globalization.
Urban economics is the application of economic analysis to spatial relationships in densely populated (urban) areas. The course develops economic models that explain the existence and growth of cities; the location behavior of consumers and businesses in cities; and the economic rationale and effects of zoning and growth controls. The course then applies the insights gained from these models to a number of urban issues.
This course examines the ways in which culture, ethnicity, languages, traditions, governance, policies and histories interact in the production of the visual experience. We will approach the campus of RIT and the city of Rochester and their various urban spatial forms as image experiences, subject to interpretative strategies and the influence of other discourses. We will wander the well-traveled and the unbeaten paths, participating in and interrogating a wide range of our campus' and city's treasures and embarrassments, secrets and norms. In addition to these field trips, we will be reading from literature and cultural studies, as well as viewing films, advertisements and websites, and possibly attending theatrical and music performances or sporting events.
The City in History
This course offers an introduction to the study of history by exploring the history of a particular city. Cities are complicated places, where many peoples, cultures, and histories overlap and interact. Their histories are also shaped by many forces, such as economic, cultural, demographic, social, and sexual, operating at levels from local to national to global. Studying a city offers a window into the history of a local place as well as a nation. The choice of the city is left up to the individual professor. Cities under study in the past have included Rochester, Las Vegas, and Paris.
Culture and Politics in Urban Africa
With a focus on African societies, we examine the diverse cultures of African peoples in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped their lives in the past and the present. Topics include European colonialism and its modern-day legacies, ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, labor migration, urbanism, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, oral traditions, and literatures have engaged critically with the forces of political change and neo-colonialism. We consider political activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and cultural transformations of African diasporas in the U.S and elsewhere.
Minority Group Relations
The course will provide a context in which to examine the multiple and contradictory social relations of domination, subordination, resistance, and empowerment. The kinds of questions we will explore focus on how power, knowledge, meaning, and cultural representation are organized. We will analyze a variety of political and ideological themes which bear upon the formation of minority group relations, their identity and how these themes complicate the processes by which people construct their understanding of the nation, world, of others, and themselves. Through reflection on theoretical texts and fictional works, as well as film and other popular media, we will consider for ourselves how culture is differently represented and signified, and how the politics of understanding and misunderstanding minority relations work through practices within and outside cultural institutions.
Community and Economic Development: Rochester
With a focus on forms of (in)justice in urban communities worldwide, we investigate the impact of race, class, and gender and related systems of unequal power relations on perpetuating patterns of social, political, economic, and environmental oppression (policing, hunger, pollution, violence, disease). How do ways of governing urban populations affect the lives of inner city residents and their demands for justice when attempting to navigate the everyday urban worlds? Specific course topics include both historical and contemporary perspectives on urban (in)justice locally, in Rochester NY, and nationally, across the U.S., and in a global comparative framework. Thereby the effects of crime, violence, and inequality on people in urban neighborhoods are also examined among and within nations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to identify and explain various theories that seek to explain (in)justice patterns in the urban context at local, national and global levels.
Urban poverty has been recognized as a persistent problem in the United States since the middle of the last century. In many cities, poverty is associated with high levels of teenage pregnancy, low levels of employment, limited educational attainment, chronic community-based health problems, and high levels of crime. This course examines causes, consequences, and proposed policy solutions to urban poverty. Special emphasis will be paid to U.S. urban poverty.
Urban Planning and Policy
American cities and suburbs have undergone tremendous change in the post-World War II era as a result of changing policies and planning decisons. Land use decisions have favored suburbs over cities and the subsequent loss of tax base has impacted these cities' ability to perform basic functions for their citizens and federal and state government policies and programs have had adverse impacts on the functionality of urban areas and the efficiency of local governments. We will examine case studies and conduct field research on governmental structures and policies that will enable us to develop alternative strategies and policies.
Diversity in the City
The concept of sustainability has driven many national and international policies. More recently, we have become aware that unless we physical build and rebuild our communities in ways that contribute to sustainability, making progress toward that goal is unlikely. It is equally important to recognize the social aspects of sustainability. In addition, it is at the local level that the goals of equity (a key consideration in community sustainability), most often achieved through citizen participation and collaborative processes are most easily realized. This course will broaden students understanding of the concept of sustainability, particularly the concept of social sustainability. This course focuses on sustainability as a way to bring light to the connections between natural and human communities, between nature and culture, and among environmental, economic, and social systems. Working closely with local organizations, students will explore the applicability of theoretical concepts.
* At least two of the elective courses must be at the 300 level or higher.