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Urban Challenges Interdisciplinary

Course Code: HUMS 1400
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Philosophy
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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 CitiesA 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

Methods of Instruction

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.


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%


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.

course prerequisites




curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.