Selected introductory topics of contemporary interest.
This course is designed as an introduction to the field of urban sociology. In truth, the field represents an interesting mixture of topics, fragmented by a wide range of theoretical paradigms and research approaches. For this class we will take a pretty broad swipe at the field, discussing topics as varied as the social meaning of community, urban history, city politics, and contemporary patterns of segregation. We will focus primarily on urban dynamics in the U.S. but recognize that understanding these dynamics requires attention to the global context in which they operate. The course is informed by three very broad questions: 1) How has the social and physical structure of cities evolved over time and how has this evolution interacted with broader economic and political trends?; 2) How has the evolution of the city altered our sense of community?; and 3) How do emerging urban structures reflect, and help to alter, systems of inequality within and between places? In addressing these questions, we will explore some classical depictions of life in the city, research on the nature of community ties, the causes and consequences of suburbanization and sprawl, and a wide range of contemporary social problems facing American cities, as well as some possible solutions to these problems.
Student learning goals
Become better acquainted with current arguments about the nature of urban problems and processes of community development.
Foster the ability to critically assess the implications of various theoretical perspectives in relation to local community dynamics and the activities of organizations in our community.
Develop a stronger understanding of the rules of evidence that support the development of this knowledge about the social world.
General method of instruction
Discussions of relevant literature, in-class assignments, lectures, films, presentations by guest speakers, and your independent reading, research, and writing.
Class assignments and grading