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This course will introduce students to the topic of cities and urban life. Over 80% of the United States’ population lives in cities or their suburbs, and over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Cities are more than their physical components of housing, offices, and roads. Cities have been the building blocks of civilization for millennia, and even life in rural areas is impacted by cities’ culture and economies. Studying cities and urban life is important to understanding how human societies have developed, how our households live and function, how our economies grow and innovate, how our culture develops and influences, and an array of other topics including social opportunity, inequality, and political movements.

This course also serves as an introduction to the minor in City and Regional Planning. While this course focuses on cities through an interdisciplinary lens, other courses in the minor will focus on the challenges of cities as approached through the discipline of urban planning. Urban planners are a diverse group of professionals working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors who plan for new development and transportation systems, help mitigate the environmental impacts of urbanization, and address specific challenges in the areas of housing and economic development such as a lack of affordable housing or unequal access to employment.