Since 2009, a larger percentage of the world’s population lives in cites than in rural areas. Cities highlight the best and the worst aspects of human life and reveal the starkest contradictions. While home to the richest people in the world, contemporary cities are also the sites of and give rise to extreme forms of poverty and inequality. This course is designed to help students investigate and analyze some of the social and economic inequalities that shape contemporary cities both here in the US and across the globe. The class will focus on broad debates and narratives about progress, development, democracy, race, and equity, tying these large themes to how the contemporary city is produced, governed, and imagined. Rather than delving deeply into one specific field, the course will introduce—on a weekly basis—a number of different lenses through which urban inequality can be seen and analyzed; these include processes such as segregation, gentrification, informality, policing, fortification, and enclaving. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of basic urban processes and literatures, and to be willing to consider new ideas and challenge commonly held assumptions. In addition to learning about the city and the processes that shape it, this course is designed to improve and challenge students’ academic skills in critical thinking, writing, and political and geographical debate.
Detailed syllabus is here