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Geography and Urban Studies

5000. Special Topics Seminars   (3 s.h.)

A faculty member offers special seminars in a research specialty. Recent topics have included current perspectives on development, the information and technology needs of low resource community organizations, and information systems design and management.

5014. Urban Social Geography   (3 s.h.)

The course acquaints students with social and cultural understandings of urban space in the U.S. city.  Students are asked to use photography to explore how geography grounds itself on the landscape.


5015. Land Use Planning   (3 s.h.)

This course is an examination of the forces that influence land use planning in and around American metropolitan regions. It considers economic perspectives (land values); public interest perspectives (zoning subdivision, housing and building codes, redevelopment and renewal programs, etc.); and social perspectives of land use. Also examined are separate housing, commercial locations, and industrial development.

5018. Economic Development Planning for Cities   (3 s.h.)

The focus is on the causes of economic decline in American cities, history of governmental policies to promote urban economic development, and major tools available to local economic planners, with special emphasis on the political issues of who controls the programs and who reaps the benefits.

5021. International Urbanization   (3 s.h.)

This course examines urbanization around the world.  The focus may include issues of rapidly industrializing areas, as well as postcolonial and transition societies.  Students address topics related to the effects of rapid social and spatial change in a variety of settings.  They also examine the problems of providing housing and urban infrastructure in rapidly urbanizing areas, as well as the social and cultural tensions related to urban change.

5044. Urban Housing   (3 s.h.)

An overview of the economic, social, physical, and political forces that have molded the present urban housing stock is provided. Also examined are the implications of present urban housing stock, implications of present trends for the future, and the development of rational housing policies, emphasizing the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

5056. Political Ecology  (3 s.h.)

Political ecology is an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the study of human-nature relations.  This course examines resource use, the construction of landscapes, questions of structure-agency, and definitions of “nature” and “development.”  We study cases at a variety of spatial scales and settings, and include examples from industrialized countries as well as non-industrialized regions.  Topics are diverse, ranging from subsistence fishing to access to green spaces in cities.  The critical roles of the state, non-governmental organizations, and individual actors in shaping social, political, and economic landscapes are considered.

5061. Cartographic Production   (3 s.h.)

This course presents advanced approaches to design and production of thematic maps.

5062. GIS I   (3 s.h.)

This course prepares students with the knowledge necessary to effectively use GIS software packages, and covers fundamental principles such as spatial data models, database management systems, network modeling and geo-coding, and basic vector and raster operations.

5065. GIS II   (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: GUS 5062 or another basic statistics course at the graduate level.

Assuming basic familiarity with Geographic Information Systems, this course focuses on applying GIS techniques to the study of such processes as urban sprawl, socioeconomic change, and ecological functioning of urban regions.

5068. Census Analysis with GIS   (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: Prior coursework, experience using GIS, or permission of instructor.

Students gain an understanding of U.S. census geography and tabular data through the use of GIS.  Activities, discussions, and lectures familiarize students with U.S. Census Bureau data, while lab assignments and exercises provide experience using GIS to analyze real world problems.  By the end of the semester, students will have learned a variety of advanced GIS techniques and be able to make effective use of census data for academic research.

5071. Medical Geography:  Census Analysis with GIS   (3 s.h.)

This course offers an analysis of the factors responsible for the geographic patterns of disease, mortality, and health care services: the role of the environment in evaluating mortality and disease patterns.

5075. Comparative Regional Development   (3 s.h.)

This course examines the transformations, beginning with the European expansion 500 years ago, that have, to a large extent, created the regional variation we see today.  Theoretical approaches to understanding "modernization" and "development" are considered. This foundation is then built on to look at the historic factors that have shaped different parts of the world.  Examined are the political, economic, social, spatial, and environmental processes that have shaped those countries that share a colonial past (our primary focus) as well as North America, Asia, Japan, and Eastern Europe.

5096. Problems of Environmental Quality   (3 s.h.)

Local urban environmental problems are considered by members of the class in research teams, with a view toward seeking possible solutions.

5097. Race, Class, Gender in CIties   (3 s.h.)

This research seminar examines the spatial dimensions of metropolitan inequality, focusing on how inequality is perpetuated along race, class, and gender lines. Topics include urban growth politics, zoning and land use planning, domestic architecture, racial segregation, poverty, and homelessness. Students design a research proposal based on course materials.

5159. Geographic Inquiry   (3 s.h.)

This course familiarizes students with the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological debates underlying the use of spatial analysis in the social sciences.  Students explore how place, space, and scale are conceptualized and utilized to examine urban processes as well as different approaches to spatial representation, including visual, mathematical, digital, and cognitive.

5161. Statistics for Urban Spatial Analysis  (3 s.h.)

This course provides an introduction to statistical analysis of spatial phenomena and processes with an emphasis on urban applications using a variety of economic, demographic, health, crime, and environmental data sets.  The course covers the basic principles of sampling, probability, and tests of significance; spatial exploratory data analysis (SEDA); measures of association; ordinary least squares regression; and factor, principal component, and cluster analysis.

5162. Advanced Statistics for Urban Applications   (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: GUS 5161 or another basic statistics course taken at the graduate level.

This course teaches advanced statistical methods to examine urban processes and patterns.  The course covers spatial point pattern analysis, multivariate regression, logit and probit regression, spatial econometrics, Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR), and hierarchical linear modeling.

5163. Qualitative Methods   (3 s.h.)

This course is designed to foster an understanding of the principles and appropriate application of qualitative methods in Urban Studies.  It provides an overview of qualitative research design and emphasizes the connections between grounded theory, explorative inquiry, and thick description.  Specific skills that are introduced include participant observation, in-depth and open-ended interviewing, oral histories, case study analysis, focus groups, narrative analysis, content analysis, archival analysis, and social action methods.  The course examines the limitations and advantages of qualitative approaches, triangulation with quantitative methods, and ethical issues in conducting research.

5165. Community-Based Program Evaluation   (3 s.h.)

The course focuses on how to design and conduct evaluation plans that are useful for improving community-based human service and educational programs, as well as the challenges encountered in conducting evaluations in real world settings.  A major emphasis is on the various methods and issues involved in conceptualizing, planning, conducting, and utilizing program evaluations.  Among the topics covered are logic models and program theory, evaluability assessment, needs assessment, and process and outcome evaluation design.

8006. Geographic Thought   (3 s.h.)

This course reviews current concepts and methods used in geographic and urban interdisciplinary research.  The major goals are to have students trace the pedigree of their research interests and develop a bibliography of essential readings.

8011. History and Theory of Urban Studies   (3 s.h.)

This course provides students with the foundational knowledge to pursue graduate studies in the interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies.  It surveys the historical and philosophical bases of contemporary urban studies and provides an introduction to contemporary explanatory frameworks and associated critiques in the social sciences.

8016. Public Policy for Urban Regions   (3 s.h.)

This course introduces students to the major policy approaches used to sustain and develop cities and regions in the United States and beyond – i.e., direct government intervention, market models, and third sector institutions.  The course examines the changes brought about by globalization in the scope and function of governments, including regulatory regimes and privatization of services and infrastructure.  Students analyze the consequences of different policy approaches for social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

8021. Geography of Urban Services   (3 s.h.)

The course  provides an analysis of concepts basic to understanding spatial service patterns and emphasizes use of models in service area delineation.

8031. Critical Issues in Globalization, Sustainability, and Social Justice   (3 s.h.)

This course explores the theories, facts, and debates related to globalization, sustainability, and social justice, the themes that are critical to understanding contemporary urban conditions and dynamics.  It provides students with an overview of a wide range of issues, in a number of U.S. and international settings, and at several spatial scales.  The material is foundational for making decisions on research topics.

8033. Urban Economic and Spatial Structure   (3 s.h.)

This course provides an introduction to the analysis of urban economic and spatial structure.  Key ideas from urban economic theory (comparative advantage, scale economies, location economies, urbanization economies, clustering, increasing returns) are introduced.  They are combined with key ideas from trade theory (transportation cost and globalization) and the impact of federal, state, and local government policies on creating and changing internal structures of cities and their consequences for access and distribution in fragmented metropolises.

8043. Seminar on Homelessness in America   (3 s.h.)

This course explores various issues relating to homelessness, with a focus on public policy and research. A dominant theme is how public policy decisions have contributed to this problem. Topics are the experience of being homeless, the epidemiology of homelessness, structural and individual theories of homelessness, the history of homelessness in the United States, substance abuse and mental illness among the homeless, homeless women and children, homelessness in Philadelphia, and public policies needed to address the problem.

8045. Poverty and Employment   (3 s.h.)

The course examines the relationships among the globalization of the economy, economic restructuring, metropolitan labor markets, and poverty focusing on contemporary U.S. cities. It evaluates theoretical and public policy debates about employment and poverty. Particular attention is paid to how class, gender, and racial inequities are reproduced in the urban economy.

8047. Comparative Urban History   (3 s.h.)

The course reviews methodological tools for comparative readings and research on the history of cities, across cultural and chronological boundaries.

8050. Environmental Seminar   (3 s.h.)

This course examines the ecological consequences of contemporary economic development. Focus is on countries at the low end of the developmental scale in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. The course illustrates through case studies how changes in the relations of production give rise to increasing degradation of resources.

8055. Sustainable Cities   (3 s.h.)

This course introduces the concept of sustainability and explores environmental problems linked to urbanization, drawing on historical analysis, social theory, landscape ecology, and city planning/design practice.  Primary topics covered include social and economic drivers of urban development and suburban sprawl; the principle of carrying capacity; the measurement of landscape-scale ecological function (e.g., habitat fragmentation); and the use of decision support tools to generate alternative policy scenarios for urban sustainability planning.

8065. Cartographic Design   (3 s.h.)

The focus is on practical work with photographic and related processes to produce a map printed in color.

8097. Research Design   (3 s.h.)

The goals of this course are to provide students with an understanding of the basic concepts underlying different spatial approaches to research design and analysis.  The course emphasizes fundamentals of designing investigations using a variety of methods and data to better understand urban processes, problems, and topics.  Students learn to critically evaluate and conduct research, formulate meaningful research questions, design studies using different research methods, and develop a rigorous research proposal.

8113. Community-Based Research   (3 s.h.)

This course deals with applied, empirical research experience on issues affecting urban communities in the Philadelphia area. Students conduct research projects in collaboration with local community organizations working for community change. The course includes the study of contemporary urban issues and training in research methods, applied research techniques, report writing, and negotiating client-driven research.

9082. Independent Study   (1-3 s.h.)


9083. Readings   (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: Permission of advisor or instructor.


9085. Internship in Geography & Urban Studies   (1-6 s.h.)

The internship provides on-the-job training for graduate students with local consulting firms, planning commissions, community organizations, and various state, local, and federal government agencies in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

9086. Internship Paper   (1-6 s.h.)

Students complete a summary paper that is based on their experience in the field.

9087. Mapping Practicum   (3 s.h.)

Students are assigned cartographic projects and encouraged to plan, design, and execute them for faculty and those from outside firms and planning agencies.

9991. Master's Research Paper   (3 s.h.)

Students develop a high-quality research paper on a topic of their choice. Students connect the development of their paper to their work within a specific course as a means of facilitating their project. Students also work with an individual advisor to develop the content, implement the project design, and approve the final paper.

9994. Doctoral Qualifying Exam  (1 s.h.)

Preparation for the preliminary examination.

9998. Dissertation Proposal   (1-3 s.h.)

Preparation of the dissertation proposal in consultation with the primary dissertation supervisor. 

9999. Dissertation Research   (1-6 s.h.)

After passing the Qualifying Exam, continuous registration in 9999 during the Fall and Spring semesters is required until the dissertation is successfully defended.  One credit is the minimum required each semester after the proposal defense and while the student is researching and writing the dissertation. A minimum of 6 s.h. of GUS 9999 must be taken before one can secure the Ph.D. degree.


Updated 6.16.09