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Take it from the Top: Preparing Urbanists for the 21st Century

Colloquy for the Urban Affairs Association Conference

April 12-14, 2022 in Washington, DC

How do we introduce students to the study of cities? In what ways are we preparing them to grapple with the manifold complexities of urban life and urban systems? What is the story we are telling, not just about 'the urban,' but about our disciplines and fields as well? This colloquy surveys the state of undergraduate education about cities, their people, the metropolitan frameworks of which they are apart, and the ecological systems that sustain them. Participants discuss the 'ecosystem' of undergraduate programs today, their composition and variety, including BA and BS degrees, majors and minors and certificates. We examine Urban Studies and Urban Affairs in terms of their origins, purpose, and relevance to today's world, looking at what works well and what could be done to expand the field. In the process, we consider the mix of theoretical knowledge, research capacity, geographic expanse, and practical skill sets germane to training undergraduates. The goal of the session is to generate a list of common goals and inspiring practices, and to begin to lay the ground for new ways of training 'urbanists' for the twenty-first century.

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