Growth and Structure of Cities (Bryn Mawr)

Department Website:
https://www.brynmawr.edu/cities

The interdisciplinary major challenges students to understand the dynamic relationships connecting urban spatial organization and the built environment with politics, economics, cultures and societies worldwide. Core introductory classes present analytic approaches that explore issues of changing forms of the city over time and explore the variety of ways through which women and men have re-created global urban life across history and across cultures. With these foundations, students pursue their interests through classes in architecture, urban social and economic relations, urban history, studies of planning and the environmental conditions of urban life. Opportunities for internships, volunteering, and study abroad also enrich the major. Advanced seminars further ground the course of study by focusing on specific cities and topics.

Complementing the major, students may also choose to do a minor or a second major that allows them to complement their work in Cities with more specialized knowledge, whether in Environmental Studies, Economics, or studies of language and culture. Students also may apply for the 3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning in their junior year, offered in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, after filling prerequisites there.

Major Requirements

A minimum of 15 courses (11 courses in Cities and four allied courses in other related fields) is required to complete the major. Two introductory courses (CITY B185, CITY B190) balance sociocultural and formal approaches to urban form and the built environment, and introduce cross-cultural and historical comparison of urban development. The introductory sequence should be completed with a broader architectural survey course (CITY B253, CITY B254, CITY B255) and a second social science course that entails extended analysis and writing (CITY B229). These courses should be completed as early as possible in the first and second years; at least two of them must be taken by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year.

Writing across multiple disciplines is central to the major, drawing on sources as varied as architectural and visual materials, ethnographic fieldwork, archival and textual study, theoretical reflection and policy engagement. Students write and receive commentary on their arguments and expression from their introductory classes through their required capstone thesis. While most courses in the major have important writing components, at the moment CITY B229 acts as our primary writing-intensive course, asking students to draw upon the breadth of their interests to focus on researching, writing and rewriting within a comparative framework. In Fall 2018, we will explore other dimensions of writing in the humanities with CITY B377: Writing Architecture. At the same time, students are encouraged to use other classes within the major to develop a range of skills in methods, theory, presentations, oral and written.

After these introductory courses, each student selects six elective courses within the Cities Department, including cross-listed courses. At least two classes must be at the 300 level in Cities or cross-listed courses. A strong foundation in our varied methods is also intrinsic to the Cities major. In the introductory classes, students will be exposed to architectural and spatial analyses, qualitative and quantitative methods, and comparative case studies, based in an awareness of local and global histories. More specialized methods classes include CITY B217 (Social Science Methods), CITY B201 (GIS) and our architectural studio sequence (CITY B226/CITY B228), which allows students to make informed choices about careers in architecture and design. The use of appropriate methods is honed in the senior thesis.

In the senior year, a capstone course is required of all majors. Most students join together in a research seminar, CITY B398, in the fall of that year, writing a 40-60 page thesis on a topic of their choice, based on primary documents and original research and/or design. Occasionally, however, after consultation with the major advisors, the student may elect another 300-level course or a program for independent research. This is often the case with double majors who write a thesis in another field. 

Finally, each student must also identify four courses outside Cities that represent expertise to complement her work in the major. These may include courses such as physics and calculus for architects, additional courses in economics, political science, sociology, or anthropology for students more focused on the social sciences and planning, or courses that build on language, design, or regional interests. Any minor, concentration, or second major fulfills this requirement. Cities courses that are cross-listed with other departments or originate in them can be counted only once in the course selection, although they may be either allied or elective courses.

Both the Cities Department electives and the four or more allied courses must be chosen in close consultation with the major advisors in order to create a strongly coherent sequence and focus. This is especially true for students interested in architectural design, who will need to arrange studio courses (CITY B226, CITY B228) as well as accompanying courses in math, science and architectural history; they should contact the department chair or Daniela Voith in their first year. Students interested in a second major should consult with advisors early on.

Students should also note that many courses in the department beyond the introductory sequence are not given every year; this is true as well with regard to cross-listed courses. Students should also note that courses may carry prerequisites in cities, art history, economics, history, sociology, or the natural sciences and have limited enrollments because of space and technology (Architecture Studio, GIS).

Cities students should test their knowledge through engagement with cities worldwide beyond the classroom. Hence programs for study abroad or off campus are encouraged, within the limits of the Bryn Mawr and Haverford rules and practices. In general, a one-semester program is strongly preferred. The Cities Department regularly works with off-campus and study-abroad programs that are strong in architectural history, planning, and design, as well as those that allow students to pursue social and cultural interests and hone language skills. Students who would like to spend part or all of their junior year away must consult with the major advisors and appropriate deans early in their sophomore year. Internships are also an important component of the program either in the summer or for credit with faculty supervision.

Over nearly five decades, Cities students have created major plans that have allowed them to develop their interests in cities with an eye toward future engagement with architecture, planning, ethnography, history, law, environmental studies, mass media, public health, the fine arts, and other fields. No matter the focus, though, each Cities student develops solid foundations in both the history of architectural and urban form and the analysis of urban culture, societies, and policy. Careful methodological choices, clear analytical writing, and critical visual readings constitute the hallmarks of the major. Strong interactions with faculty and other students and alums that will continue even after graduation also characterizes the department as a growing and creative social cohort beyond Bryn Mawr and Haverford as well.

Minor Requirements

Students who wish to minor in the Cities Department must take at least two out of the four required courses and four cities electives, including two at the 300 level. Senior Seminar is not mandatory for fulfilling the cities minor.

3+2 Program in City and Regional Planning

Over the past three decades, many Cities majors have entered the 3+2 Program in City and Regional Planning, offered in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania. Students interested in this program should meet with faculty early in their sophomore year.

Faculty at Bryn Mawr

Jeffrey Cohen
Chair and Term Professor in Growth and Structure of Cities

Jennifer Hurley
Instructor in Growth and Structure of Cities

Min Kyung Lee
Assistant Professor of Growth and Structure of Cities

Gary McDonogh
Helen Herrmann Chair and Professor of Growth and Structure of Cities

Samuel Olshin
Senior Visiting Studio Critic in the Growth and Structure of Cities Program

Liv Raddatz
Associate Director Praxis

Lauren Restrepo
Assistant Professor of Growth and Structure of Cities

Matthew Ruben
Lecturer

Daniela Voith
Senior Lecturer in the Growth and Structure of Cities Program

Courses

CITY B185  URBAN CULTURE AND SOCIETY  (1.0 Credit)

Gary McDonogh, Jennifer Hurley

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

Examines techniques and questions of the social sciences as tools for studying historical and contemporary cities. Topics include political-economic organization, conflict and social differentiation (class, ethnicity and gender), and cultural production and representation. Philadelphia features prominently in discussion, reading and exploration as do global metropolitan comparisons through papers involving fieldwork, critical reading and planning/problem solving using qualitative and quantitative methods.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B190  THE FORM OF THE CITY: URBAN FORM FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT  (1.0 Credit)

Min Kyung Lee

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This course studies the city as a three-dimensional artifact. A variety of factors, geography, economic and population structure, politics, planning, and aesthetics are considered as determinants of urban form.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B201  INTRODUCTION TO GIS FOR SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley

Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This course is designed to introduce the foundations of GIS with emphasis on applications for social and environmental analysis. It deals with basic principles of GIS and its use in spatial analysis and information management. Ultimately, students will design and carry out research projects on topics of their own choosing. Prerequisite: At least sophomore standing and Quantitative Readiness are required (i.e.the quantitative readiness assessment or Quan B001).

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B214  THE PHILADELPHIA MOSAIC: IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES IN THE CITY  (1.0 Credit)

Liv Raddatz

Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This course explores the experiences and city-making strategies of immigrant communities in the Greater Philadelphia Area from roughly the late 19th century to the present day. It sheds light on how immigrant communities have shaped the city at different points in time and how the Philadelphia metropolitan region, as an urban context, has shaped immigrants’ lives. The course also familiarizes students with Philadelphia’s history, transformations of the metropolitan region in recent decades and current economic, social and spatial dynamics as well as key immigration concepts and theories. This will be offered as part of the Trico-Philly program. The course will take place in Center City, Philadelphia. For additional information and the program application see the program's website https://www.brynmawr.edu/philly-program

CITY B217  RESEARCH METHODS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley

Division: Quantitative; Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B226  INTRODUCTION TO ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN  (1.0 Credit)

Daniela Voith, Samuel Olshin

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This studio design course introduces the principles of architectural design. Suggested Preparation: drawing, some history of architecture, and permission of instructor.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B228  PROBLEMS IN ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN  (1.0 Credit)

Daniela Voith, Samuel Olshin

Division: Humanities

A continuation of CITY 226 at a more advanced level. Prerequisites: CITY B226 or permission of instructor.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B229  TOPICS IN COMPARATIVE URBANISM  (1.0 Credit)

Gary McDonogh

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B250  TOPICS: GROWTH & SPATIAL ORGANIZATION OF THE CITY  (1.0 Credit)

Jeffrey Cohen

Division: Social Science

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B254  HISTORY OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE  (1.0 Credit)

Min Kyung Lee

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

A survey of the development of modern architecture since the 18th century.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B255  SURVEY OF AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE  (1.0 Credit)

Jeffrey Cohen

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This survey course examines architecture within the global framework of “the modern.” Through an introduction to an architectural canon of works and figures, it seeks to foster a critical consideration of modernity, modernization, and modernism. The course explores each as a category of meaning that framed the theory and practice of architecture as a cultural, political, social, and technological enterprise. It also uses these conjugates to study the modes by which architecture may be said to have framed history. We will study practical and discursive activity that formed a dynamic field within which many of the contradictions of “the modern” were made visible (and visual) through architecture. In this course, we will engage architectural concepts and designs by studying drawings and buildings closely within their historical context. We will examine spheres of reception for architecture and its theoretical, discursive, and cultural life through a variety of media: buildings of course, but also journals, books, and film. We will also investigate architecture as a site and subject for critical inquiry. In particular, we will see what it may tell us about the globalization and politics of the twentieth century, and about history, theory, and criticism as epistemological tracks.

CITY B306  ADVANCED FIELDWORK TECHNIQUES: PLACES IN TIME  (1.0 Credit)

Jeffrey Cohen

Division: Social Science

A hands-on workshop for research into the histories of places, intended to bring students into contact with some of the raw materials of architectural and urban history. A focus will be placed on historical images and texts, and on creating engaging informational experiences that are transparent to their evidentiary basis.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B328  ANALYSIS OF GEOSPATIAL DATA USING GIS  (1.0 Credit)

Liv Raddatz

Division: Natural Science
Domain(s): C: Physical and Natural Processes

An advanced course for students with prior GIS experience involving individual projects and collaboration with faculty. Completion of GIS (City 201) or equivalent with 3.7 or above. Instructor permission required after discussion of project.

CITY B332  PARIS: MAKING A MODERN CITY  (1.0 Credit)

Min Kyung Lee

This course explores 19th-century Paris from the French Revolution to the First World War, and studies how the city transformed into a modern capital. By engaging with history, architecture, art and literature, we will examine the social, cultural, political, and economic shifts and conflicts that shaped its built environment and influenced many other cities around the world.

CITY B337  THE CHINESE CITY  (1.0 Credit)

Lauren Restrepo

This course examines Chinese urbanization as both a physical and social process. Drawing broadly on scholarship in anthropology, political science, geography, and city planning, we will construct a history of the present of Chinese cities. By taking the long view on China’s urban development, this course seeks to contextualize and make sense of the sometimes dazzling, sometimes dismal, and often contested landscape of everyday life in contemporary urban China. Prior familiarity with China and the Chinese language is welcomed but not required.

CITY B345  ADVANCED TOPICS IN ENVIRONMENT AND SOCIETY  (1.0 Credit)

Min Kyung Lee

This is a topics course. Topics vary.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B360  TOPICS: URBAN CULTURE AND SOCIETY  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B365  TOPICS: TECHNIQUES OF THE CITY  (1.0 Credit)

Matthew Ruben

Division: Social Science

This is a topics course. Course content varies.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B377  TOPICS IN MODERN ARCHITECTURE  (1.0 Credit)

Jeffrey Cohen

Division: Humanities
Domain(s): A: Meaning, Interpretation (Texts)

This is a topics course on modern architecture. Topics vary.

(Offered: Spring 2021)

CITY B378  FORMATIVE LANDSCAPES: THE ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING OF AMERICAN COLLEGIATE CAMPUSES  (1.0 Credit)

Jeffrey Cohen

The campus and buildings familiar to us here at the College reflect a long and rich design conversation regarding communicative form, architectural innovation, and orchestrated planning. This course will explore that conversation through varied examples, key models, and shaping conceptions over time.

CITY B398  SENIOR SEMINAR  (1.0 Credit)

Gary McDonogh, Min Kyung Lee

Division: Social Science

An intensive research seminar designed to guide students in writing a senior thesis.

(Offered: Fall 2020)

CITY B403  INDEPENDENT STUDY  (1.0 Credit)

Gary McDonogh, Jeffrey Cohen, Min Kyung Lee

Division: Social Science

(Offered: Fall 2020, Spring 2021)

CITY B415  TEACHING ASSISTANT  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley, Lauren Restrepo

Division: Social Science

An exploration of course planning, pedagogy and creative thinking as students work to help others understand pathways they have already explored in introductory and writing classes. This opportunity is available only to advanced students of highest standing by professorial invitation.

CITY B425  PRAXIS III: INDEPENDENT STUDY  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley

Praxis III courses are Independent Study courses and are developed by individual students, in collaboration with faculty and field supervisors. A Praxis courses is distinguished by genuine collaboration with fieldsite organizations and by a dynamic process of reflection that incorporates lessons learned in the field into the classroom setting and applies theoretical understanding gained through classroom study to work done in the broader community.

CITY B450  URBAN INTERNSHIPS/PRAXIS  (1.0 Credit)

Jennifer Hurley

Division: Social Science
Domain(s): B: Analysis of the Social World

Individual opportunities to engage in praxis in the greater Philadelphia area; internships must be arranged prior to registration for the semester in which the internship is taken. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.