University of Southern California
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Sustainable Cities Program

Practice Instructional Center 200
(213) 821-1325

Co-Directors: Joseph Devinny (Environmental Engineering); Jennifer Wolch (Geography)

Graduate Certificate in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Engineering Sustainable Cities

The environmental sciences, policy and engineering sustainable cities program is a multidisciplinary doctoral certificate program open to USC students pursuing Ph.D. programs in many disciplines including engineering, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, economics, geography, international relations, political science, sociology, urban planning and others.

Creating sustainable cities for the 21st century is a major challenge for society. The growth of cities, caused by natural population increase and massive rural-to-urban population flows, poses critical environmental problems that reach far beyond municipal boundaries and transcend national borders. Resolving such problems requires contributions from natural scientists, engineers, behavioral scientists and policy experts. To solve problems of national concern, such scientists must work productively with public administrators, political decision-makers and diverse interest groups. This program seeks to equip doctoral students with both the requisite knowledge of other fields and the political, interpersonal and communication skills necessary to succeed in practical contexts.

The sustainable cities program is designed to be integrated into each student's departmentally based course of doctoral study, with each department determining how individual sustainable cities program courses can be used to meet doctoral program requirements.

Required Courses

Sixteen units of graduate work are required.

Core Courses (8 units)units
CE 564Methods for Assessment and Protection of Environmental Quality3
COMM 646Negotiating Boundaries in Environmental Research2
GEOG 611Sustainable Cities: Problems and Policies3

Research (8 units)
Students complete 8 units of directed research in their home departments over the course of three semesters (2 units in semesters two and three of the program and 4 units in the fourth semester).

The first two directed research courses are devoted to an individual research project related to their dissertation, supervised by at least two faculty members from different fields.

The third directed research course is a semester-long collaborative project involving professors and students from at least three different disciplines.

Admission Requirements and Application Procedures
Students must be currently matriculated in a USC doctoral degree program or applicants for admission to such a program. Students may obtain an admissions package from the USC Graduate School or their intended home department. To apply for admission students should send a letter by February 1 to Denise Steiner, University of Southern California, Sustainable Cities Program, 927 35th Place, PIC 200, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0027. This letter should: (1) describe the student's field of interest and how it contributes to the study of urban sustainability; (2) identify potential collaborative projects in which the student might wish to participate; (3) provide contact information, including address, phone number, email address and the primary academic unit. Students already enrolled in a USC doctoral program who wish to apply to the program should also submit copies of their official undergraduate and graduate grades, results from the General Test of the GRE and a letter of reference from their doctoral advisor.