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Fall 2016 – GEOG274 – Social Justice and the City

17 Mar

New Course for Fall!
GEOG274 – Advanced Topics in Urban and Social Geography: Social Justice and the City.
CRN: 95162

Description: The formation and evolution of cities has always depended on social inequality – marginalized racial/ethnic/religious populations have been separated into ‘ghettos’, gender has shaped one’s access to public spaces, the poor have been squeezed out (or in) to the worst sections of town, the disabled and elderly have been immobilized by physical barriers, uneven surveillance and policing fan the flames of hate and violence, and the exploitation of labor has built monuments to the rich. In the face of how deeply woven together the social forces of injustice and city-building have been, what does it take to envision a ‘socially just city’?
This class begins with establishing some conceptual frameworks based on diverse theories of justice drawn from Marxist, feminist, anti-racist, queer, and other critical perspectives — and then employs those in the examination of empirical, real-world settings to explore interlocking dimensions of oppression, spatial patterns and processes of marginalization, and urban expressions of power and disenfranchisement.

Please note that due to the enormity of this field, we will focus primarily on North American cities with some limited examples from European cities. So, while globalization will be examined in terms of its effects on urban marginalization, and many urban processes themselves are found all over the world, the scope is geographically narrowed to keep it manageable.

Expectations: Students will be active participants in this seminar with responsibility for critical reading, rotating discussion leadership, and short weekly writing assignments. Other assignments include mapping projects (GIS not required), film reviews, and a semester-long project that students will design with support and guidance.

Pre-reqs: Students should have familiarity with basic urban processes, must have their D1 completed, and ideally have taken or are co-enrolled in GEOG175, Urban Geography. Students who took GEOG195/SOC195 – Mapping Modern American Childhoods are eligible for this course. Others who are interested should contact me at

Class meetings Fall 2016: Tues/Thurs. 2:50-4:05. Old Mill 221 (Economics seminar room)

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