Urban Studies

Administrative Information

Program Director: Prof. Kimberley Johnson, 405 Lehman, 854-8522,

Columbia College Adviser: Dean Kathryn B. Yatrakis, 208 Hamilton; 854-2441;

Program Assistant: Mike Cavalier, 236 Milbank; 854-4073;

Interdepartmental Committee for Urban Studies

Gergely Baics (History)
Deborah Becher (Sociology)
Flora Davidson (Political Science and Urban Studies)
Karen Fairbanks (Architecture)
Catherine Fennell (Anthropology)
Esther Fuchs (International and Public Affairs)
Kenneth T. Jackson (History)
Kimberley Johnson (Political Science)
Maria Rivera Maulucci (Education)
Jose Moya (History)
Randall Reback (Economics)
Elliot D. Sclar (Urban Planning and Public Policy)
Sudhir Venkatesh (Sociology)
David Weiman (Economics)
Kathryn B. Yatrakis (Dean of Academic Affairs)


Kimberley S. Johnson (Political Science and Urban Studies)

Columbia College Advisor
Kathryn Yatrakis (Dean of Academic Affairs, Columbia College)

Liz Abzug (Adjunct)

Associate Professors
Susan Fine (Adjunct)
Thomas Kamber (Adjunct)

Assistant Professors
Gergely Baics (History and Urban Studies)
Deborah Becher (Sociology)
Marnie Brady (Adjunct)
Susan Gladstone (Adjunct)
Thai Jones (Adjunct)
Meredith Linn (Term, Urban Studies)
Leah Meisterlin (Adjunct)
Daniel Sheehan (Adjunct)
Şevin Yildiz (Adjunct)

Research Scholar
Rohit Aggarwala

Mission Statement

The Urban Studies Program enables students to explore and understand the urban experience in all of its richness and complexity. It recognizes the city as an amalgam of diverse peoples and their social, political, economic, and cultural interactions within a distinctive built environment. Students study the evolution and variety of urban forms and governance structures, as well as explore the place of the city in different historical and comparative contexts, as well as in the human imagination.

Majors build an intellectual foundation that combines interdisciplinary coursework and a concentration of study within a single field. Through the two-semester junior colloquium, students study urban history and contemporary issues, and at the same time hone their interdisciplinary, analytical and research skills. This shared experience prepares them for their independent research project in their senior year. We encourage our majors to use New York City as a laboratory, and many courses draw on the vast resources of the city and include an off-campus experience.

Student Learning Objectives

Having successfully completed the major in urban studies, the student will be able to:

  • apply concepts or methods from more than one social science or adjacent discipline to analyze an urban issue or problem;
  • describe the distinctive social, cultural, and spatial features of cities and illustrate their impacts on the urban experience;
  • apply basic skills of empirical reasoning to an urban problem;
  • explain how the idea of the city varies in different historical and comparative contexts;
  • demonstrate familiarity with a particular disciplinary approach to the city as an object of study;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the history and variety of urban forms and governance structures;
  • articulate a well-defined research question, conduct independent research using primary sources and a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, and write a substantive research paper;
  • communicate ideas effectively in written or oral form;
  • organize and present group research projects.