The Urban Studies major entails the study of America's cities, metropolitan areas, and their people. Students learn about the cultural, political, and historical aspects of urban living and the influence of these factors on the growth and decline of businesses and neighborhoods. Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary program that includes a foundation in urban geography, urban economic and political systems, and social issues. A minor in Urban Studies is also available.
Concentrations are offered in:
- Urban & Regional Planning
- Public Management
- Environmental Policy and Management
- GIS & Applications
- Personally-Designed Track
1. Urban and Regional Planning
Urban planners use their skills in research, design, and development to effect social goals in cities. The urban and regional planning track helps students use the heritage of urban planning to influence urban and regional development. Planners analyze a range of data regarding an area—the economic base, the needs of the people, the available resources, and the effects of change—and make recommendations for action.
2. Public Management
Public managers develop budgets, strategic plans, policies, and programs for a variety of public and private organizations. The public management track gives students basic management techniques and analytic skills necessary to manage effectively in an urban environment.
3. Environmental Policy and Management
This track is designed to give students an understanding of the economic, political, and social changes necessary for improving the quality of the physical environment in cities. Courses focus on domestic environmental policies and programs, environmental design, and issues related to sustainable development.
4. GIS & Applications
A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computerized database management system used for the capture, storage, retrieval, analysis, and display of spatial data. GIS is useful to every discipline that utilizes geographic data and is one of the most exciting and rapidly growing computer technologies.
GIS has spread widely into fields such as land use, transportation, utility management, emergency services, natural resource management, environment, demographics, public safety and public health, market and business location, housing, and real estate. With digital representation of spatial entities and their spatial relationships in GIS database, GIS are used to improve services, assist in managing resources, and provide support for better decision-making and policy-planning activities.
The track balances training in fundamental GIS concepts and theory, practical GIS-based problem-solving applications, and the development and completion of both independent and collaborative GIS projects.
5. Personally-Designed Track
Students may design their own track with their adviser, with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies (five courses, 20 credit hours). Examples of personally-designed tracks are: historic preservation, economic development, Geographic Information Systems, and community health management.
Internship opportunities are available to all students; scholarships are available to qualified students; students with substantial prior learning experience may apply for credit through the Assessment and Accreditation of Prior Learning Experience program. Opportunities to participate in small seminar groups, research projects, and online courses are available. Students should consult their advisers for assistance in planning coursework.