What is Urban Studies?
Urban Studies is a field of study that creates innovative, real-world knowledge of the challenges and opportunities of city life. Both inside and outside the classroom, the Urban Studies Department reaps the advantage of the immense complexity and diversity both of New York City as a preeminent global city, and Queens as one of the most diverse counties in the United States. In Urban Studies we take a multi-disciplinary approach. We combine history, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science and other fields. To a greater or lesser degree, all of our courses address the deep inequalities that rend our urbanizing world.
The theme of social justice is woven through our courses on a wide array of subjects, from our basic courses on Urban Poverty and Affluence, Urban Diversity, Urban Politics, Public Policy, Research Methods, and Contemporary Urban Theory, to specialized courses in such areas as urban education, transportation, economy, civil rights, social movements, criminal justice, social welfare, health policy, labor, housing, minorities, and the urban environment.
Our mission is to help students to understand cities and think critically about them and their environs, to prepare students for active and engaged participation in civic life, and to provide students with the knowledge and skills they will need for successful careers in the public, non-profit, and private sectors, as well as for advanced studies.
Department History. The Department of Urban Studies was founded in 1971 by Marilyn Gittell, a scholar and activist who spearheaded the movement for school equity and democratic schooling, and Matthew Edel, an urban economist who did pioneering research on the economy of cities and neighborhoods. From the start, we have emphasized participatory, community-based models of teaching and learning that take into account the needs of people and neighborhoods marginalized by race, class, gender, sexuality or nationality.
The Faculty. The faculty has expertise in a variety of fields including urban anthropology, environmental policy, health policy, history, political science, public administration, sociology, social work, and urban planning. Practitioners with extensive experience in city government and non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, community planning agencies, public policy organizations and labor unions teach many of our courses.
Experiential and Service Learning. Many of our courses give students opportunities to participate in community organizations, advocacy groups, social service providers, and government agencies. We believe that classroom teaching works best when combined with real-world experience. A generous grant from the Hagedorn Fund allows us to offer limited support to undergraduate majors in urban and environmental students who take our service learning course.
Collaborations across Queens College. The Urban Studies Department works with a number of other academic programs on campus, including the Labor Studies Program, the Journalism Program, the Africana Studies Program, the Asian-American Community Studies Program, the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the Honors in the Social Sciences Program.