The Political Economy of Cities: American and Comparative Perspectives

Course Description

We will examine how economic and political factors shape cities, urban life, and urbanization processes using theories and methods from different social science disciplines (political science, economics, sociology, geography, etc.). Particular attention will be given to comparing urban processes across time and place, including cities from the U.S. and from all around the world, and critically evaluating the efforts of different actors to shape and reshape the city. The course will introduce key concepts and debates in urban political economy while also focusing on a number of substantive issues such as spatial inequality, good governance, quality of life, and environmental challenges. Contributions from scholars and policy-makers as well as from the media and popular culture will be included.

You will learn by participating in the production of knowledge: gathering, analyzing, and synthesizing information through a series of interactive classroom activities and assignments. The assignments will be varied and engaging, yet also mostly informal. They are designed to allow you to experiment, learn, and receive constructive feedback on your work and learning process. The course will empower students with the analytic and critical thinking skills and effective communication tools necessary to form and transmit their own understanding of a topic and to pursue college-level studies in the liberal arts and social sciences.

By the end of the course, you will:

  • Learn to think 'glocally', linking local and global issues and learning from new ideas and perspectives.
  • Have a deeper understanding of the main concepts and debates in urban political economy, as a useful introduction to the social sciences and related fields.
  • Have developed some of the skills central to today‚Äôs liberal arts and social sciences: interdisciplinary and comparative thinking, and the ability to connect academic discussions and real-world policy and civic issues.


There are no prerequisites for this course, although students with an interest in the social sciences and related fields such as urban studies, public policy, and development studies may find the course particularly interesting. This course further intends that students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served, that students' learning needs to be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to class be viewed as a resource, strength, and benefit.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 08, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 8:30A-11:20A
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Rachel McKane
Course Number: 10356