The field of urban studies traces its roots to the pioneering work of sociologist W.E.B. DuBois as well as the legacy of social reformer and Hull House founder Jane Addams; both were deeply committed to understanding and improving the “urban condition” as it existed in the early 1900s, a period of rapid industrialization, migration and urbanization. Today the field of urban studies investigates many of the same problems it did in the days of DuBois and Addams: racial and economic inequality, inadequate housing for the poor and working class, and a criminal justice system favoring the powerful while targeting marginalized communities. As contemporary cities continue to be reshaped by both the speed and scope of migration, the movement of capital throughout the world, technological change, environmental challenges, and the rise of urban social movements, a minor in urban studies positions students both to understand the nature and root causes of these changes and also provides the tools to analyze their effects. As an interdisciplinary minor, we offer the breadth and depth of coursework to provide the former, as well as the methodological richness present in the fields of anthropology and sociology to provide the latter.
Drawing from the anthropological tradition, and qualitative approaches in sociology, students will engage in fieldwork in New York City, exploring diverse communities and experiencing social life on street corners and in neighborhood organizations and institutions. Students will learn to collect and interpret quantitative data as well, either through conducting their own surveys, engaging in systematic observation or by utilizing the innumerable datasets available from municipal, state and federal agencies. Use of such data will train students to ask systematic and comparative questions about cities in the United States and around the world.
The minor in urban studies will prepare students for careers in urban planning, public policy, government service, community development, social work, law, journalism, and administration in public, private and nonprofit agencies. Students may pursue graduate study in urban planning, law, social work, public administration, architecture, journalism and related fields.