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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Seattle Campus

The City: People, Place, and Environments

Surveys the history of cities in North America and around the globe from 1800 to the present. Considers economic and technological change; politics and government; city planning and landscaping design; migration and immigration, race, gender, and class; suburbanization; popular culture; and natural environments and natural disasters.

Class description

Understanding the world today requires understanding its cities. And understanding its cities requires knowing their history.

The course will give you a foundational understanding of the economic, political, and social forces shaping American cities’ evolution over time and the central role cities have played in modern history. You will understand major trends shaping urban development from the 16th century to the present day. You will learn the urban history of North America and what it does and does not have in common with other urban places around the globe.

Topics covered by this course include: major economic trends shaping cities, from the Industrial Revolution to the high-tech economy; the ways that gender, race, ethnicity, immigration have shaped urban life over time; how the city has been interpreted and shaped by high culture and popular culture; the role of politics and policy; the relationships between suburbs and cities; and the environmental consequences of urban growth and the role of nature in the city.

Student learning goals

This course will teach you skills needed for success in the history classroom, other courses in other departments, and in your professional career. Research assignments will teach you critical analysis of source materials and sharpen your ability to read and understand both quantitative and qualitative data. Discussion section will teach you to present, discuss, and debate ideas in informed, balanced, and incisive ways. Examinations will not only test the breadth of your knowledge but also ask you to synthesize data and create compelling narratives about the past. Assignments will be created on an online platform that will allow sharing of knowledge among your peers and a wider public, teach you to develop polished portfolios using both visual and textual materials, and provide training in the academic and professional use of digital tools and social media.

General method of instruction

Twice-weekly lectures (80 min), once-weekly discussion section (50 min)

Recommended preparation


Class assignments and grading

There will be one midterm examination and no final examination.

The core assignment of this course will be a five-part project in which you conduct an intensive investigation into the history of one city block in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. The assignment will involve a total of 2000-2500 words of writing (equivalent to 12-15 pp, double spaced) and assemblage of visual materials and primary source documents.

You also will be graded on participation in lecture, discussion section, and weekly submission of journal entries (approx 150 wds per week) reflecting on readings and course content.

Lecture and discussion participation; journal entries – 20% Lake Union Research Project Part One – 10% Part Two – 10% Part Three – 10% Part Four – 10% Final Gallery – 20% Midterm – 20%

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Web Page
Last Update by Margaret Pugh O'Mara
Date: 11/05/2012