The Urban Scale: Built Environment, Social Forms and Political Potentials

Course Level: 
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
US Credits: 
ECTS Credits: 
Course Code: 
Course Description: 

More and more people around the world live in cities. But what are cities? How do they operate? What challenges, difficulties, and opportunities do they generate? What is that can and cannot be done in cities? The main objective of this class is to engage with these types of questions through an engagement with key theoretical concepts, case studies, and social research. With this in mind the course is divided in three sections. In the first one we will explore prominent conceptualization of urbanism, urban revolution and the relations between cities and capital. In the second section, instead we focus on different traditions of exploring cities at a variety of scales and in relation to different social formations (individual, neighborhood, global and so on), finally we engage with the political potentials that cities, and their multiple scales, offer. Each week is directed by one basic big question that we will engage with and, hopefully, by the end of the term we will be able to provide some answers to them.

Learning Outcomes: 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES: Students are expected to critically engage with the questions we raise each week, contribute to discussion both through annotated readings and class participation, and develop a research projects (see final paper).


[1]      Careful preparation of the mandatory readings by the date on which they are to be discussed in class. Class discussion will require informed participation on the part of all. The readings will be available on Perusall, an annotation and reading software. Basically, this will allow you to write notes on the text, both notes for yourself (that no one else will see) and others that will be public. The idea is that through your notes, comments, doubts, and question we get to read together and develop a discussion directly in the text. This will be a very important part of class so you are expected to engage with our questions and with one another, which will be part of the final grade. (see below for info on how to use Perusall). This accounts for 30% of the final grade.

[2]    Class discussion. This is a question-driven class, which means we need to participate in trying to answer those. Class participation is therefore expected and a big part of your work. Examples from your own experience, movies, research are essential to our discussions so make what we read work for you, bring in your own questions and curiosities, and don’t be afraid of wrong answers, there aren’t any! Class participation accounts for 30% of the final grade.

[3] Final Paper: This will be a research paper based on something you are working on. We will discuss over the course of the term this with each of you. The paper should be 4000-5000 words. This will account for 40% of your grade.