An Urban Studies program launched at SPU this fall, with a major and minor that explore the city as a living organism by examining urban development, planning and growth, livability, and diverse communities.

The Sociology Department housed within the interdisciplinary curriculum examines how a city’s planning, politics, demography, and social inequality impact modern urban environments. Students complete an internship in Seattle and study abroad in the Philippines, England, or Brazil, to gain exposure to urban norms, customs, and institutional structures outside the U.S.

The degree prepares students for many careers in the social and political environment of a city, whether as a planner, architect, attorney, housing and grant manager, real-estate developer, or in the nonprofit
sector advocating for environmental stewardship or programs for youth and families.

“As an urban university, we need to be training students to see themselves as essential cogs in the urban machine and give them the tools to manage, repair, or change that machine in creative ways,” says
program director Katherine Nesse, assistant professor of Urban Studies. “The Seattle metropolitan area is facing many complex and interrelated issues right now. We know that the solutions we have been using are not creating the outcomes we want to see. We need people who are prepared to think about these issues in a new way.”