Urban Studies (URBNST) Course Descriptions

Students are required to complete 18 credits of the following URBNST courses.

Introduction to Urban Studies URBNST 0080  (3 credits)

Students are encouraged to take this as early as possible, ideally in the fall or spring of freshman year. This course serves as the required introduction into the Urban Studies major or as a general course in the social sciences for the non-major. The course, like the major, explores the problems and potential of cities by combining various disciplinary perspectives: economics, geography, Africana studies, political science, history, sociology, and anthropology. In so doing, the course takes full advantage of the resources of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Films and field trips help to bring the readings alive. As course materials are providing students with the necessary concepts and information to understand the urban environment, the students will be developing their own investigative skills through group trips.

Introduction to GIS URBNST 1102  (3 credits)

This course introduces the fundamental principles of geo-spatial analysis using ArcGIS Desktop and Microsoft Excel. It will focus on teaching students the principles of GIS through computer-based exercises and projects. Exercises will train students in acquiring, analyzing, mapping, and managing geospatial data in order to address predominately urban problems. An emphasis will be placed on bridging the gap between performing geo-spatial analyzes using GIS and designing readable and understandable outputs. Exercises and projects will be centered on topics and applications relevant to urban studies, political science, sociology and economics. These include, but are not limited to: Urban planning, housing, education, and public administration.

Urban Studies Research and Presentation Skills Seminar URBNST 1300  (3 credits)

Offered Fall Term.

This interactive and practical research methods seminar will introduce students to the research process. After active participation in the class students will have gained exposure to many important research techniques in urban studies. Students will learn research and communication skills, learn to locate and analyze relevant data, and to use research methods to address practical urban problems. In-class discussions will critically examine examples of published urban research and different data presentation methods. Prerequisite(s): URBNST 0080

Urban Studies Research Seminar URBNST 1500  (3 credits)

Two sections offered Spring Term.

1. This research seminar will enable students to engage in a semester-length project to analyze an aspect of urbanism in an international city - the empirical focus this semester will be on the city-state of Singapore. Students will be expected to draw from the skills they have assembled in Urban Studies and other courses to develop and conduct research on this important Asian city.  The writing-intensive course will include lectures on urbanism which highlight Singapore's unique character, and workshops on developing the necessary research skills to implement research on distant cities.  Participants will become familiar with the conditions and challenges facing contemporary Singapore, and with the extent to which comparative analysis is possible between Singapore and other cities.
2. This seminar will attempt to integrate, summarize, and add to what was learned in Urban Studies and other courses and how that knowledge and further research can be applied to the planning and development activity in a local community or Pittsburgh neighborhood over the last half of a century. The course will consist of literature reviews, demographic, political, policy and economic analysis of the impact of planning and development on Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods and local communities. The emphasis in the course will be on developing skills in research, strategic thinking and policy analysis.  Students will become familiar with the basic literature on planning and urban development and community intervention, and will be expected to compare and analyze different methods of planning and development in regards to a specific case study.

Urban Studies Field Placement URBNST 1900  (6 credits)

Also see Internships. Students obtain experience in an urban-related profession. This course gives the Urban Studies major the opportunity to get off of the campus and in the community. It allows the student to relate his/her academic training to a real-world situation by working in an urban-related organization or agency. Prior to the term in which the field placement is taken, the student and the Urban Studies advisor plan a placement that is best suited to the student's talents and interests. During the placement the student works an established number of hours per week under the combined supervision of the agency or organization personnel and the Urban Studies advisor. For permission to register, visit 3500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall.