Various academic disciplines may define the city in differing ways, but they all agree on one thing: the city is a revolutionary human achievement. As a student in our Urban Studies program, you will use tools provided by multiple disciplines to understand cities and the role they play in the development and functioning of civilization.
Various academic disciplines may define the city in differing ways, but they all agree on one thing: the city is a revolutionary human achievement. As a student in our Urban Studies program, you will use tools provided by multiple disciplines to understand cities and the role they play in the development and functioning of civilization. In fact, Urban Studies at New College is what we call a joint disciplinary or slash AOC, because it must be combined with another discipline (e.g., Urban Studies/Sociology, Urban Studies/Economics) in order to graduate. You can also take Urban Studies as a track within our Environmental Studies AOC.
True to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, faculty offer a variety of perspectives on urbanism, including the study of prehistoric and preindustrial cities, the history of urban architecture, urban sociology, contemporary urban cultures and ethnic groups in the United States, and urban politics. You can also take advantage of internships in Sarasota and Bradenton — one of the nation’s fastest-growing urban areas — as well as opportunities for off-campus study in the United States and abroad. All are designed to lead toward your senior thesis or project, which you and your faculty advisor will devise.
Urban Studies involves exploring the ways we organize our lives together in places, both urban and rural, as well as how we produce, understand, represent and engage such places and landscapes in our daily lives. In the broadest sense, it is the study of the patterns, qualities and consequences of human settlements, as built environments and as social, cultural, economic and political structures — all with profound implications for the way humans organize their interactions with natural systems of the planet. Neighborhoods, towns, cities, suburbs and metropolitan regions are the immediate contexts in which we work toward a diverse and just society, and they are the practical sites where we are compelled to confront many of the most central social, political, economic and environmental challenges of the day.
As an Urban Studies student at New College, you will learn about cities throughout the world, as well as about a range of problems and solutions that shape them. Whether planning recreational space along Florida’s Gulf Coast, addressing the problems of the homeless in our local community or examining the historic urbanization of Europe and Latin America, you will learn from and contribute to the city as a vital part of modern human life.
You will also develop a strong background in the tools and perspectives of social science and the humanistic disciplines as they relate to an understanding of human communities, as well as a background in the natural sciences associated with the core requirements in Environmental Studies. You will then apply this training in hands-on fashion to investigate and seek solutions for a type of environmental problem that interests you.
In the past, New College students in Urban Studies have conducted Independent Study Projects (ISPs) and group tutorials, as well as written theses, on a wide variety of projects, including urban watershed management, comparative transit systems and varieties of community-based environmental problem-solving. It may sound intimidating at the start, but with the help of your faculty advisor you will discover that this experiential-based, interdisciplinary AOC allows you both the freedom and the opportunity to make a difference in the world around you.
As a joint disciplinary or “slash” AOC, as we call it, Urban Studies must be combined with another discipline (e.g., Urban Studies/Sociology, Urban Studies/Economics) in order to graduate. This allows students a great deal of flexibility in working with their faculty advisors to design a plan of study that is uniquely tailored to their particular interests and goals. Students can also take Urban Studies as a track within our Environmental Studies AOC. Your faculty advisor will be happy to discuss the various options with you and to help you find the one that is best meets your needs and expectations. As with all AOCs at New College, a senior thesis or project approved by faculty within the discipline is also required in order to graduate.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Urban Studies:
Metropolitan Built Environments and Urban Sustainability
Space, Place and Community
Sociology of Sustainable Communities
Practicum in Community Building
Cities and Suburbs
For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog.
Mary Ruiz is president and CEO at Manatee Glens Hospital and Addiction Center. Manatee Glens is a not-for-profit hospital that has been helping families in crisis with mental health and addictions services in Bradenton, Florida, for over 50 years. Ruiz has led Manatee Glens to a statewide reputation, gaining recognition for innovation with groundbreaking programs such as the Access Center, a 24-hour psychiatric emergency room for both mental health and addictions crises, the first outpatient detox center in the state and winner of a Florida Best Practice Award, and the Safe Children Coalition, a collaboration that has reduced child abuse and neglect caseloads by 50 percent.
New College is proud of the many Urban Studies graduates who have contributed to the field. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
• Robert Bilott is a law partner at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP, in their environmental, litigation, product liability and personal injury practice groups.
• Roderick Grant is a graphic designer and assistant professor at Ontario College of Art and Design. His photographic and typographic work involves the threshold between rural and urban, and transitions in urban typology from metropolitan density to open sparsity. His New College thesis was on “Architectural Design: Theory and Reality.”
• Irene Hillman studied Sociology and Urban Studies at New College. She isdirector of career services at Westwood College in Atlanta.
• Scott Pesetsky is a lawyer practicing in the areas of wills, trusts, probate and business law, especially for inventors, start-ups, web designers and consultants.
• Olga Ronay is managing partner at High Cove, a community with 45 homes on 108 acres in the North Carolina mountains to be sustainable and preserve the land around it.
• Michael Winkleman is owner/president and chief creative officer of Leverage Media. He has also worked as director of custom publishing for American Lawyer Media and was senior vice president of editorial operations and production at Chief Executive Magazine.
• Kira Zender works at CH2M HILL, a global leader in consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management working to build a better and more sustainable world.
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Urban Studies
• Cornell University
|Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Urban Studies:
“Transit in Suburbia: An Analysis of Perth, Australia’s Mass Transit System and How American Suburbs Can Overcome Automobile Dependency” by Stacey Haber
“Paved with Good Intentions: Sarasota and the Challenge of Mass Transit in the Automotive City” by Adam Lubitz
“More Green, Less Grief?: Post-Katrina Reconstruction in New Orleans” by Jessica Anne Plante
“Selling Suburbia: An Actor-Network Analysis of the Construction of Levittown, NY” by Matthew Goeke
“Sea Level Rise and Local Land Use Planning: The Florida Example” by Elisabeth Salinas
“City, Sweet City: A Study of the Implementation of New Urbanism and the Public Process” by David A. Banks
“Beyond Ghetto Walls?: An Inquiry Into the Role of Design in the Past Failure and Current Revitalization of America’s Severely Distressed Public Housing Projects” by Melissa Norton
“The City That Works Again: Neighborhood Redevelopment in Chicago” by Joel Frederick Mann
“Creating Controversy: Public Art and Political Reaction” by Irene J. Hillman
“Suburban Mass Transit: Busing, Paratransit, & Sarasota” by Dan Gottlieb
“The Textures of a Neighborhood and Residents’ Collective Efforts to Shape Their Environment” by Haley B. Grossman
“Architectural Design: Theory and Reality” by Roderick Grant
“Garbage and Government: Recycle Now, Sarasota County, and the Politicization of Urban Waste” by Scott Pesetsky
“Success and Failure in Sarasota Public Housing” by Lisa Silverman
“Historic Preservation in Sarasota” by Kira T. Zender
“Mapping the Homeless World” by Patricia Frew
“Toward a Clearer Understanding of the American Urban System” by Robert Alan Bilott
“Born to Surf: The Postwar Subdivision” by Olga Tania Ronay
“Direct Democracy and Urban Governance: The Experience of Condominium Associations” by Mary Ruiz
“The City, the State and Containment” by Allen Dalezman
“A Study of the Colonial Urban Planning and Development of Kingston, Jamaica: 1692-1865” by Leslie Miller
“A Critical Perspective on Behaviorism” by D. Hederich
“Winkleman’s New Collegiate Guide to Metropolitan Sarasota: Spring 1973; A Glossary of Vital and Interesting Information Pertaining To and Dealing With Things To Do, Places To Eat, People To See and Ways in Which To Get Things Done-A City Visibility Primer” by Michael Jacobs Winkleman
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to urban studies and is available to students throughout the year.
You might also be interested in…
Each year, New College students in Urban Studies are given the opportunity to work with our expert faculty assisting the Sarasota and Bradenton communities with a broad range of issues, including downtown development and redevelopment, neighborhood revitalization, urban infill, and building safer and more pedestrian friendly urban environments.
One such recent project involved students who worked with Professor David Brain and community leaders to revitalize commercial development on the north end of Sarasota’s most prestigious barrier island, Longboat Key. They collected background data — a review of past plans, existing zoning and existing conditions. Then they interviewed residents and business and property owners to seek their ideas for the area, including potential uses for its commercial properties.