University of Southern California
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Interdisciplinary Programs

Urban Initiative

The USC Urban Initiative offers a graduate certificate in urban and global studies. Faculty from across the university’s professional schools and USC College actively engage in inter- and trans-disciplinary scholarship that bridges basic and applied research.

Faculty and students undertake applied and theoretical urban scholarship in an environment that promotes inquiry, introduces principles and values and teaches the skills necessary to work on complex urban problems in multidisciplinary environments and to develop the common language essential to effective collaboration.

Graduate Certificate in Urban and Global Studies

The Urban and Global Studies certificate provides an intense, interdisciplinary, intellectual educational, research and training experience focused on cities in global context to doctoral students from diverse professional and academic disciplines.

Urban challenges today are complex, often global problems that defy solutions from one discipline. The Urban and Global Studies certificate seeks to train a new generation of scholars with the skills to bridge basic and applied research, work collaboratively across disciplines, and think beyond national or local spheres to discover better solutions to complex problems. It offers scholars from interdisciplinary and disciplinary fields a unique opportunity to exchange respective methodologies and develop an enlarged community of communication.

A critical component of participation in the Urban and Global Studies certificate will be an international research project in the summer of the second year of the Ph.D. program. This will provide the student cohort with critical international comparative experience.

Admissions Criteria
Applicants for admission to the Urban and Global Studies certificate must be full-time currently enrolled students in good standing in a USC Ph.D. program. Applicants will be expected to have completed one year of full-time study in their respective schools prior to admission (generally, students will apply in the spring of their first year of study; however, other applicants further along in their Ph.D. studies will also be considered). Admitted students will generally enroll in the certificate courses during the second and third year of their Ph.D. studies.

Admission to the certificate program is highly selective and competitive. Preference is given to those with professional and academic qualities favoring success in interdisciplinary collaboration and scholarship around complex problem-solving.

Applicants must supply (1) a one-page statement of their professional and academic background and interests and career goals related to the certificate; (2) a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who knows the student’s work well; and (3) a brief letter from the departmental chair (for applicants in USC College departments) or program advisor (for professional school applicants) indicating that the applicant is a currently enrolled student in good standing. Applications must be signed by the dean or a designated signer.

For specific information on admission requirements, application procedures and urban and global fellowships contact the Urban Initiative office at (213) 740-8181.

Urban Studies (URBN)

URBN 601 Pro-Seminar in Urban and Global Studies (1, max 3, FaSp) Introduces students to the issues and problems of global cities and a range of urban scholars via the Urban Initiative lecture series. Open to Urban and Global Studies students only. Graded CR/‌NC.

URBN 603 Comparative Urbanism: Theory, Method, Policy (4, Fa) A critical overview of the city in history, past and present approaches to urban theory, the dynamics of contemporary urbanization and urban outcomes, and prospects for managing urban growth and change. Open to Urban and Global Studies students only. Concurrent enrollment: URBN 601.

URBN 605 Interdisciplinary Methods of Inquiry in Urban and Social Problems (3, Sp) Engages participants in discourse about the characteristics of urban problems and intellectual foundations of ways to solve them. It offers communication and language skills across disciplines. Open to Urban and Global Studies students only. Prerequisite: URBN 603; concurrent enrollment: URBN 601.

URBN 700 Grand Challenge Integrative Seminar (3, Sp) Seminar builds on knowledge and assignments of the Grand Challenge courses. Students describe, analyze and compare the work they did in their separate Grand Challenge courses. Open to Urban and Global Studies students only. Prerequisite: URBN 603, URBN 605.