Syllabus: Social Justice & The City

December 3, 2013  • Posted in Teaching Resources  •  0 Comments

Rebecca Burnett, University of Washington

Who are cities for? This is a more complex question that is initially apparent. At various times and in various places this question would be answered differently. Who is asking and who is answering will also color the response. Everyone – the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless –experiences the city differently.

This class is intended to be a place where students think critically about urban social relations and gain a better understanding of social justice, inequality, access, and privilege as they relate to urban space. We will explore the ways in which identity, political economy, and space come together to create different ways of “knowing” the city. We will highlight the roles of race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and resistance in shaping both the physical and social geographies of cities. The course will challenge you to interrogate dominant representations and conceptualizations of cities and to think critically about who has access and control over urban space.

The city of Seattle will be our laboratory. Through readings, class discussion, group facilitations, guest presentations, and (a fair amount of) fieldwork, we will explore Seattle as an example of how a North American city embodies the problems and opportunities inherent in modern urban social relations – and how social justice “plays out” on the ground.

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