Urban Challenges Interdisciplinary

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HUMS 1400
Urban Challenges Interdisciplinary
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hr. per week/semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

There will be a combination of lecture and discussion.  Some presentations may take up the entire class time, but allow for student questions and comments during the presentations. A couple of the final sessions may be made up of a panel of some of the course lecturers, who will discuss, from the vantage points of their respective expertise, a specific theme or problem determined in advance by the students. When appropriate, audio-visual materials will be used.

The course coordinator will be present at all presentations and will create structure and continuity as well as providing a summation at the conclusion of the course.


Course Description
This course provides an introduction to key themes, concepts and approaches to the urban environment. Cities are the sites of complex interconnections, generating a multiplicity of cultural, social, economic and political forms and spaces. An interdisciplinary approach will be adopted to identify and delineate new connections that arise from this confluence. The course will include speakers from a variety of perspectives, both in and outside of the College, bringing their expertise and experience to bare on urban problematics. In addition to gaining an exposure to the different areas of study, students will also acquire analytical tools useful for critical reflection on the ways in which we experience and explain the urban environment and strive to meet its challenges.
Course Content

Each course will cover a selection of the following. Certain topics may account for more than one lecture. 

1. The Study of Cities:  A Survey of Disciplinary and Theoretical Approaches.

2. Canadian Cities: History; Similarities & Differences; Provincial/Federal Relations

3. New Westminster: History; Governance; Economics; Culture; Relation to Region

4. Good Cities: Utopianism/Anti-Utopianism; Citizenship; Urban Justice; Sustainability

5. Cities and Aboriginal Communities: Relation to First Nations; Urban-Dwelling Aboriginals

6. Urban Governance: Alternative Structures; Citizen Participation; Regional Governance; Growth management

7. Global Cities: Impact of Globalization on Cities and vice-versa; Global City Competition

8.  Planning & Design: Principles of Planning; Neighbourhoods; Public Space; Architecture; Recreation

9. Economic Issues: Financing; Gentrification; Housing; Inequalities; Transportation

10. Social Issues: Gender and Racial Discrimination; Crime; Homelessness

11. Environmental Issues: Green Building; Alternative Energy; Green Spaces; Air/Water quality; Food security/safety

12. Urban Citizenship: Values; Diversity; City as Commons

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

Explain current academic approaches to urban issues.

Explore, synthesize, and integrate concepts from a variety of disciplines.

Apply theoretical perspectives to key urban challenges (political, economic, social, environmental, etc.)

Compare and contrast assumptions underlying the approaches taken by different disciplines, urban theorists, and urban practitioners.

Apply urban insights/perspectives by the various disciplines to current issues and problems in New Westminster, Vancouver and elsewhere.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and in accordance with the policies of Douglas College. A maximum of 60% of the student’s grade will be assigned to examinations, a minimum of 20% will be assigned to a research essay or several short essays, and a maximum of 20% will be based upon components such as quizzes, participation and class presentations. Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor in the course outline.

 An example of an evaluation scheme:

Two short essays (3-5 pages each)                            40%

 Mid-Term                                                                    20%

 Final Exam                                                                  25%

 Participation, etc.                                                          15%

 Total                                                                           100%


Textbook Materials

Possible texts include:

Bridge, Gary and Sophie Watson, (Eds.) A Companion to the City, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.

LeGates, Richard T. and Frederic Stout, (Eds.) The City Reader, 6th Edition, New York: Routledge, 2015.

Alternatively, a custom course pack could be utilized. Examples of texts/articles/chapters the course pack could include are:

Broadbent, Alan, Urban Nation, Toronto: Harper Collins, 2008, Chapter 1, “We See the Rise: From Forest to Farm to City.”

Beauregard Robert A., and Anna Bounds, “Urban Citizenship,” in Engin F. Isin, (Ed.) Democracy, Citizenship and the Global City,London: Routledge, 2000.

Jacobs, Jane, The Death and Life of American Cities New York: Vintage, 1992. Part One

Kelbough, Douglas, “Three Paradigms: New Urbanism, Everyday Urbanism, Post Urbanism—An Excerpt from The Essential Common Place,” Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, Vol. 20, No. 4, August 2000, 285-289.

Kohn, Margaret, Brave New Neighbourhoods: The Privatization of Public Space, New York: Routledge, 2004. Chapter 9, “Conclusion: Three Rationales for the Provision of Public Goods.”

Lynch, Kevin, A Theory of Good City Form Cambridge. Mass.: MIT Press, 1981. Chapter 4.

Pierre, Jon, The Politics of Urban Governance. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011, Chapter 2, “The Challenge of Urban Governance,”

The course packet would be updated periodically





Which Prerequisite