Spring 2020 Urban-Focused Courses

ARC 205 / URB 205 / LAS 225 / ENV 205

Interdisciplinary Design Studio

Elisa Silva / T Th 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm 

The course focuses on the social forces that shape design thinking. Its objective is to introduce architectural and urban design issues to build design and critical thinking skills from a multidisciplinary perspective. The studio is team-taught from faculty across disciplines to expose students to the multiple forces within which design operates.


ARC 303 / URB 303 / EGR 303

Wall Street and Silicon Valley: Place in the American Economy

Aaron Shkuda / M 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

This course examines two places that play an outsized role in the American economy: Wall Street and Silicon Valley. They are distinct and similarly enduring locations. They embody a divide between urban and suburban, East Coast and West Coast, skyscrapers and office parks, tradition and innovation, conservative and liberal. Despite the ubiquity of electronic trading, firms still congregate in Lower Manhattan. Tech workers fight traffic to maintain a presence in Mountain View. What makes these places endure? How do their histories, architecture, economic dynamics, and distinct cultures shape them as places?


AMS 322 / URB 322 / ARC 326

The Architecture of Race

Ashlie Sandoval / T Th 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

This seminar explores the varied ways American architecture and design have lent themselves to processes of racialization, from embodied experiences of race within the built environment to racialized representations of architecture. How might the built environment change how we perceive, understand, and experience race? How does architecture not only reflect race but constitute a way of seeing and feeling race? To expand our understanding of architecture's relationship to race, our approach will be interdisciplinary, including readings from fields such as but not limited to urban studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, and performance studies.


ARC 396 / URB 396 / SAS 396

Comparing the Urban in the Americas and South Asia

Priti Narayan / T Th 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

This course bridges the gap between pedagogy on Western cities, and that on cities of the so-called Global South, to compare urbanization and social movements across the Americas and South Asia. Specific course units will examine the development of informal settlements, urban segregation, enclave urbanism, privatization of public spaces, evictions, gentrification, homelessness, and the criminalization of the urban poor. Attention will also be paid to social movements focused on the right to the city. It asks how these processes and phenomena are similar, different, and / or interconnected across contexts.


ARC 524

Making Legible: Environmental Sensing and the Politics of Measurement

Dietmar Offenhuber / W 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

Environmental data play an instrumental role as evidence in conflicts around climate change and pollution. Monitoring infrastructures are designed to produce objective facts based on shared standards and metrics to assess risks and harms. But often, it is not the “content” of data that causes controversies, but the circumstances of how they were collected, whose interests they represent, and which perspectives they include. These material circumstances of data collection, however, are rarely considered. This interdisciplinary seminar aims to develop a framework for the production, use, and critique of environmental data from a material perspective. We will inspect public data infrastructures, work with grassroots initiatives, explore art projects, alternative sensing approaches, and emerging paradigms such as microbiome and exposome. Through design experiments, readings, and data analysis, we seek to develop modes of critical thinking about data that emerge from a material engagement with the data collection process.


WWS 540 (WWS Graduate Students Only)

Urbanization and Development

Devanne Brookins / W 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Examines the histories, processes and nuanced dynamics that contribute to the making of cities in the Global South. We explore central debates in the study of these cities across geography, urban studies and planning, and development studies. Students deepen their understanding of the Global South, how it is conceptualized and what this means for urban development, while identifying patterns and specificities across the comparative contexts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, we consider how these complex factors are, or should be considered, in policymaking and planning interventions in cities of the Global South.


HIS 584

Topics in Urban History: City, Region, Nation, Place 

Alison Isenberg / W 9:00 am - 11:50 am

Intensive readings course surveying rich recent scholarship on history of cities and their regions, intersecting with disciplines such as geography, sociology, political science, art history, built environment, planning, policy, architecture, and public humanities-as well as with historical fields of research in race, ethnicity, gender, class, capitalism, business, and culture. Seminar covers field's evolution from 1960s to recent multidisciplinary, comparative, national, and transnational studies, addressing problems of place, social processes, human experience, methods, and archives. Includes short research assignments.


URB 201 / WWS 201 / SOC 203 / ARC 207

Introduction to Urban Studies

M. Christine Boyer / W 1:30 pm - 2:50 pm

This course will examine different crises confronting cities in the 21st century. Topics will range from informal settlements, to immigration, terrorism, shrinking population, sprawl, rising seas, affordable housing, gentrification, smart cities. The range of cities will include Los Angles, New Orleans, Paris, Logos, Caracas, Havana, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai among others.


URB 202 / JRN 202 / LAO 232

Documentary Film and the City

Purcell Carson / M 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

How can a specific, character-driven documentary effectively shed light on complex social issues? How do the methods we use to observe the world shape the stories we tell? In this seminar in non-fiction film, we will work at the intersection of journalism and portraiture, applying these questions to the topic of migration between Guatemala and Trenton. Readings, screenings and discussion will deepen our understanding of the issues, while giving shape to our filmmaking. Collaborating with students in Guatemala, we will explore the tools of observational cinema, rigors of field producing and ethics of relationships with documentary subjects.


LAS 218 / URB 218

Social Justice: The Latin American City

Ben Gerlofs / M W 1:30 pm - 2:50 pm

This course deals with difficult questions of how urban social justice is understood, demanded, pursued, and meted out.The UN reports that more than half of the world's population now lives in cities, a transformation especially profound in Latin America. In this course, we will critically assess both this urban terrain and the tools and theories we use to apprehend it, from `environmental racism' to the 'circuits of capital', and from the 'Pink Tide' to the 'postpolitical'.


ARC 312 / URB 312

Technology and the City: The Architectural Implications of the Networked Urban Landscape

Andrew Laing / M 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

The seminar explores the implications of technologically networked cities for architectural programming and the design of spaces and places, including: 1) how information technology is reshaping the nature of architectural programming and our ideas of spaces, places and community; 2) how programs for spaces, buildings, places, and the city are being transformed by the increasing mobility, fluidity, and "blurring" of activities in space; and 3) the history of ideas that shape our understanding of technology and urbanism, programming and architecture: the networked global city; the sentient city; smart cities; big data; and hybrid places.


CEE 262A-B / ARC 262A-B / EGR 262A-B / URB 262A-B / ART 262

Structures and the Urban Environment

Maria Garlock / M W 10:00 am - 10:50 am

Known as "Bridges", this course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults, and tall buildings. Through critical analysis of major works, students are introduced to the methods of evaluating engineered structures as an art form. Students study the works and ideas of individual engineers through their basic calculations, their builder's mentality and their aesthetic imagination. Illustrations are taken from various cities and countries thus demonstrating the influence of culture on our built environment.


ENV 377 / CEE 377 / SAS 377 / URB 377

Sustainable Cities in the US and India: Technology, Policy & Entrepreneurship Pathways

Anu Ramaswami / T Th 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm

An interdisciplinary exploration of our quest for urban sustainability in different parts of the world. We will: 1) Explore the concept of sustainable cities, focusing on systems that provide food, energy, water, mobility, housing, waste management, and public spaces to more than half the world's people that live in urban areas today; 2) Compare and contrast cities in the US and India, understanding their diverse contexts and current baseline in terms of infrastructure, environment, economy, health, wellbeing and equity. 3) Explore pathways to a more sustainable future, including technology innovation, policy and social entrepreneurship.


ENV 381 / JRN 381 / URB 381

Climate Change as Threat (and Opportunity) Multiplier

Meera Subramanian / W 1:30 pm - 4:20 pm

The US Department of Defense has called climate change a ''threat multiplier," referencing military bases inundated by sea level rise and increased global political instability from extreme weather events. But every aspect of life on earth, for humans and other living creatures, is changing because of a rapidly warming planet. This class will explore everything from the state of songbirds to the national security concerns of war hawks to agriculture to urban design to storytelling to social justice. The aim is to understand how climate change exacerbates existing struggles and how innovative climate solutions might help ease them.