Course Syllabus

BCULST/BPOLST 593 Urban Planning & Geography

Autumn 2021

W  5:45-10:00 PM (UW1-120)


Course Description

The goal of this course is to fire students’ interest in ‘urban’ and ‘cities’ from the perspective of urban planning and geography. On the one hand, this course will bring an understanding of what it means to be ‘urban’ historically, and in the 21st century with a broad range of urban geographic and planning concepts such as urban system, urban form, urbanism, and contemporary urban issues such as gentrification, social/spatial inequity, housing affordability, urban regeneration, and smart cities. Throughout the course, students will explore these ‘urban things’ from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The ‘urban’ is always dynamic and often contested, as people struggle to understand what is so distinctive and fundamentally urban about the important social, cultural, political, and economic transformations of our time and place. However, there is no doubt that the urban is at the heart of many fields of inquiry, such as urban planning and geography, policy studies, cultural studies, environmental studies, sociology, social work, and law and economics etc. The class will offer an opportunity to build upon for anyone who is interested in studying cities and will provide them with knowledge that they can use as active citizens in their communities.

We will particularly take the social-spatial dialectic approach, that is, the idea that society and space mutually condition/constitute each other, as a lens through which to view the inner workings of urban areas – how and where people work, play, raise families, engage in economic and political exchange, grow communities, and ‘shape’ cities.

There are still lots of uncertainties due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is hard to predict and confirm at this point. However, for the Autumn 2021 quarter, the instructor is developing an opportunity that students can have a structured Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)–working and learning with students and faculties in Department of Urban Planning at Pusan National University (PNU), Busan, South Korea by building a cross-cultural understanding of the urban planning and geography.


Student Learning Goals

  • Explore various theory and practice of modern “urban planning” and “urban geography” as an interdisciplinary  field of study and practice and overview key concepts and theoretical framework developed;
  • Critically examine the internal workings of cities, and why cities undergo a constant process of spatial restructuring;
  • Develop their analytical ability to view many urban issues by taking ‘socio-spatial dialectic,’ that acknowledges the mutual relationship between society and space;
  • Demonstrate an ability to conduct in-depth ‘engaged’ urban research.


General Method of Instruction

The course materials will focus on understanding socio-spatial process, cultures, and politics of urban spaces and cities through lecture, classroom discussions, a book review, various urban activities (that includes things we can do in person as well as virtually), and a final group research project.


Recommended Preparation

Students would benefit from both completely (re-)thinking about cities and also associating its impact on their everyday lives (based on their own experience).


Class Assignments and Grading

Grades will be based on class participation & activities (20%), pre-discussion post (15%), Discussion Lead (10%), Urban Expedition (10%), Book Review (15%), and Final Paper and Presentation (30%).


Potential Costs for Any Course Related Purchase

None. All required reading materials will be provided via Course Canvas Site. 

Course Summary:

Date Details Due