Designed for those interested in cities and the way urbanization shapes historical and contemporary processes of social and environmental change.

Minor in Urban Studies

If you’re reading these words, you are unique in the history of humanity and the planet. You are part of the first generation to live in an urban world. While there are many individual cities that can be traced back hundreds or thousands of years, it was only a few years ago that the world crossed the fifty-percent threshold: for the first time ever, most people in the world live in an urban area.

Over the next century, all of the world’s net population growth will take place in urban regions, and nearly every aspect of economic, social, political, technological, and environmental change is urbanizing. The challenges and opportunities of the world are now urban problems and possibilities, and we need geographers who are equipped to meet them head-on.

The Urban Studies Minor allows students to explore the past, present, and future of urban life from the perspective of many different disciplines and methods. In addition to Geography courses in the Minor, Urban Studies students may choose electives from a wide range of offerings across UBC, including History, Sociology, First Nations and Indigenous Studies, The School of Community and Regional Planning, Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, Art History, Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, Asian Studies, Urban Forestry, Anthropology, and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

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I turned to geography and urban studies to reconcile my deep concern for the welfare of the world and to better understand the importance of sustainable development.

Victor Ngo
Urban Studies graduate

Students in Urban Studies explore questions such as:

  • How do different cities reflect different societies and histories? How do urban processes change societies through innovation, rural-to-urban migration, and social and political movements?
  • How have the cities produced through histories of industrial capitalism and colonialism shaped our relations to one another and to nature? How can today’s cities help create more sustainable and equitable futures?
  • How do cities concentrate the greatest achievements of human creativity — art, literature, technology, architecture, engineering — into legacies that shape the lives of future generations?
  • How are separate cities integrated into regional, national, and transnational networks through flows of people, commodities, money, and ideas?

For information on the Major in Urban Studies, see the UBC Calendar.  Application details will be released in 2023.

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