Urbanization in Europe has a long history, but the explosive growth and scale of modern urban areas and mega-cities are both recent and largely extra-European. In 2008, for the first time, more than half the world's population live in towns and cities, while nine out of the world's ten largest cities are in Asia or Latin America. How can the scale of cities and human proximity within them enable new sustainable forms of living? Given new concentrations of poverty within them, how can cities continue to create new activities in response to the dynamics of desire that they themselves create? How will the politics of the struggle over space and gentrification play out? What new forms of district, city and metropolitan governance will emerge and how will the struggles waged in squatter neighborhoods for recognition be resolved? What new forms of urban agriculture will develop in response to the new food movements?
Students interested in this research field should understand the long historical process of urbanization and grasp how the forces driving it today differ from those of the past, and understand these changes across the time and space of cities in the context of broader economic, cultural, and political transformations. Taking courses from a wide range of disciplines and departments, students study land use and the history of zoning, the rise of mega-cities; transitions and transformations of energy systems; waste management; water management and challenges; urban agriculture; the history of public and private transport, cities and suburbs. Students building Courses of Study in this Research Field can select from a wide range of courses taught in departments across campus, including Anthropology, History, City and Regional Planning, Demography, English, Environmental Economics and Policy, ESPM, Geography, Landscape Architecture, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy, and Sociology.