GEOG 350 (3 cr): Introduction to Urban Geography


Course Description

This introductory course in urban geography will explore a myriad of forces — social, spatial, historical, economic, political, and cultural — that underlie processes of urbanism and urbanization. We will consider multiple approaches to studying the city, focusing on how different approaches have unfolded along with historical and contemporary urban processes. The bulk of this course is devoted to North American cities, but we also consider how global processes shape North American urban patterns. Particular emphasis will be placed on uneven power relationships that shape and are produced by urban space, as well as the implications for urban planning and public policy.

The learning objectives for this course are:

  1. To acquire knowledge of, understand, and critique key paradigms and approaches in urban geography (e.g., industrial location, urban form, urban growth, neoliberalism, gentrification, inequality, etc.).
  2. To be able to link these topics and approaches to specific cases.
  3. To develop skills in the critical analysis of urban theory, urbanization, and urban problems.
  4. To apply your knowledge in an analysis of urban social or public policy.

Intended Student

The course is designed for students who have a general interest in the growth and development of cities and students who have a particular interest in urban geography, urban studies, real estate development, and urban and regional planning. A background in urban studies or an associated field is not necessary, but it would be useful. In addition to its academic interest, this course would be of interest to persons active in community affairs, urban planning, real estate, and public administration.

Course Overview

  1. Urban systems
    • Urban development in North America
    • North America urban structures
    • Growth and transition in the North American city
    • Cities and globalization
  2. Urban spaces
    • Cities as social space
    • Cities as physical space
  3. Internal geography of the city
    • The inner city
    • Suburbanization
    • Gentrification and neighbourhood change
    • Environmental justice, environmental racism
    • Race, class, gender and other forms of urban social difference
  4. Land use
    • Real estate and housing
    • Industrialism and post-industrialism
    • The political economy of urban development
    • Cities, nature and sustainability
  5. Governance and planning
    • Governance and politics
    • Urban planning

Format and Evaluation

Every week you will view pre-recorded lectures. Most weeks will include media content, such as audio or video, that you will be directed to listen to or watch. You will also complete weekly assigned readings. Written assignments will be done both individually and in groups. You are expected to post weekly in an online discussion forum. The final exam will be a take-home exam, submitted electronically.

Learning Resources

All course readings will be available through the Course Website. There is no required textbook.