Welcome to Structure of the Urban Region!

Class meeting location and time: Hunter West 606, Mon. and Thu. 1:10 p.m.-2:25 p.m.; Final exam date/time: TBA

Instructor: Charles Starks (starks.urban@gmail.com)

Office hours: Monday/Thursday 2:30-4 p.m. Please let me know in advance that you would like to meet.

Course Overview

Description of the course

This course is designed to help students analyze the large urban metropolitan regions in which the majority of people in the United States live, work and play. The course emphasizes the interrelationship of social, political, technological, environmental, economic, and spatial factors in the dynamic evolution of these regions. Throughout the course, students will question how, why, and by what forces and actors urban regions are consciously and unconsciously shaped.

Because the social and spatial structures of cities and regions strongly reflect the legacies of their past development, the course adopts a historical perspective. Much of the semester is spent discovering the factors that have transformed American cities over two centuries from the tightly packed, burgeoning urban centers of the 19th century to the vast, highly segregated urbanized regions of the post-industrial 21st century.

The course emphasizes experiential learning. Each student will complete a semester-long project documenting a major metropolitan area in the United States. In addition to written texts, the built environment of the City of New York and other cities across the country is used as course material. In the second half of the semester, students will use online data and mapping resources to investigate the social and economic structure of contemporary metropolitan regions.


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze the historical and contemporary social, spatial, environmental, and economic structure of an urban region with reference to New York City and other American cities.
  2. Analyze various dimensions of social, economic, environmental, and political problems facing contemporary metropolitan regions in the United States.
  3. Critically read and interpret texts from academic and non-academic sources concerning cities and urban regions.
  4. Present, discuss and defend their ideas in small groups and in a whole class setting.
  5. Create texts and maps which interpret social, economic, political, and spatial relationships in urban regions.