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Urban Studies

Course | T GIS 414

Advanced Applications of GIS

Applies GIS techniques through case studies of social, economic, and environmental issues in the Puget Sound region. Introduces new techniques in basic programming for GIS, using ArcGIS ModelBuilder, and the advanced use of GPS devices.


Ali Modarres

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Anaid Yerena

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Anne Taufen

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Brian Coffey

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Britta Ricker

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Course | T URB 316

Cities and Citizenship

Addresses inequality in urban spaces through the concept of citizenship and ideas about rights to the city. While the course is traditional in its concern with urban poverty, race, ethnicity, and immigration, it offers a vocabulary of citizenship and rights to investigate urban inequalities and how various populations experience them.

Course | T URB 420

Cities and the Constitution

Examines Constitutional rights to freedom of expression in public institutions and public places of cities. Considers rights to freedom of expression as they exist in a variety of forums -- streets and parks, schools, shopping malls, university sporting events, and property surrounding prisons. Analyzes interactions among rights and community interests.

Course | T URB 330

City Worlds

Examines world urbanization and the shifting geographies associated with economic restructuring and globalization. Ethnicity, gender, urban form, local governance strategies, and resistance to those strategies are considered. Includes examples from cities in both the developed and developing world.

Course | T URB 326

Climate Change within the Urban Context

Provides an understanding of the nexus of urbanization and climate change. Covers international standards, the urban carbon footprint, and mitigation strategies such as urban forests, urban agriculture, green buildings, and sustainable transportation. Also considers justice and climate change adaptation.

Course | T GIS 415

Critical Theory and GIS Practicum

Explores the foundational debates that have impacted the evolution of geospatial software, technique, and methodology.

News | February 18, 2017

Drones Are Turning Civilians Into an Air Force of Citizen Scientists

Last winter, as meteorologists warned of a monster El Niño, researchers at the Nature Conservancy in California prepared to mobilize with a new, distributed surveillance strategy: commercial drones, co-opted from a gung-ho statewide network of citizen scientists. Britta Ricker, geographic information scientist in Urban Studies University of Washington-Tacoma, shares her thoughts about the challenges and…

Course | TEST 221

Environmental History: Water

Examines the historical relationship between water and fire, irrigation, grazing, mining, deforestation, and urbanization upon the regional and global environment. Using case histories based on water, emphasizes the sources and methods historians use to study environmental change over time.

Course | T URB 101

Exploring Cities: An Introduction to Urban Studies

Introduction to the multi-disciplinary field of Urban Studies. Exposes the complexity of everyday life in metropolitan areas. Explores how the various disciplines of sociology, anthropology, geography, economies, and political science have studies and made sense of cities. Special attention given to issues of class, race, and gender.


Fern Tiger

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Course | T URB 314

Gender and the Urban Landscape

Examines linkages between cultural, physical, and symbolic urban landscapes and gender ideologies, structures, and practices. Major themes from gender and urban studies include domestic/public divisions, sexuality and city spaces, consumption, and urban design. Emphasizes integration of theoretical positions and ideas into students' work.

Degree Program

Geospatial Technologies (MS)

The Urban Studies Program offers a Master of Science in Geospatial Technologies degree. Admission is open during autumn quarter only and will be comprised of a 20 student cohort. The degree will provide advanced training in GIS, training students to use and apply geospatial hardware, software, and data in urban and environmental planning scenarios. It…

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Gregory Lund

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News | February 18, 2020

Homes are selling in Tacoma at fastest rate in nation, Redfin says in new report

Last May, Redfin elevated Tacoma on the nation’s real estate map with a report saying the city was the nation’s hottest market.  That distinction was just given again. On Thursday, the real estate company’s blog reported Tacoma was the fastest-selling metro market nationwide in January. Tacoma also ranks high as a competitive market, with 34.2…

News | March 8, 2017

Honoring Women Collaborators at Urban@UW

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just some of UW’s brilliant female professors, scholars, and and change-makers with whom Urban@UW is proud to collaborate. Click on their names to explore their work.   Leadership: Thaisa Way, Executive Director, Urban@UW; Department of Landscape Architecture Executive Committee: Margaret O’Mara, Department of History Susan P….

Course | T URB 480

Housing in the United States

Examines the principles, concepts, and tools central to housing in the United States. Acquire a broad knowledge base of state and federal housing markets, policies/programs. Identify appropriate policies to suit multiple urban contexts. Develop an understanding of at least one innovative approach to address the need for affordable housing.

News | August 30, 2018

How racism kept black Tacomans from buying houses for decades

Honorably discharged after serving in the Korean War, the young man looked to settle down in Tacoma with his wife. If only they could convince someone to show them a home. If they got to a house first, the real estate agent would leave upon seeing them. They learned to park down the street and…

Course | T URB 205

Images of the City

Examines how the city is portrayed through various media and how those portrayals affect society's perception of urban places. Discusses imagery from films, literature, television, newspapers, and magazines. Considers images linked to such elements as crime, ethnic enclaves, downtown areas, and suburbia.

Course | T GIS 312

Intermediate GIS

Examines GIS techniques that range from spatial analysis using vector and raster data models, to the analysis of three dimensional surfaces in urban space.

Course | T URB 399

International Urban Studies

Urban Studies courses taken through UWT foreign study program.

Course | T URB 110

Introduction to Digital Urban Data Analysis

Provides a methodological foundation to digital research and data analysis technologies to build a unique set of urban analytical tools.

Course | T URB 220

Introduction to Urban Planning

Introduction to the planning process. Presents and discusses the major planning sub-fields. Topics include housing, transportation, recreation, environmental planning, and preservation planning. Examines techniques associated with growth controls and land use management. Introductory course for students with planning emphasis.

Course | T URB 350

Introduction to Urban Research

Introduction to research methods pertinent to the study of urban issues, society and culture. Emphasizes the logic of the scientific method, understanding the interrelated stages of the research process, understanding and critiquing quantitative and qualitative research literature, and learning strategies for gathering and analyzing data.


James Harrington

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Jim Thatcher

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News | January 23, 2020

Land banking in the heart of Tacoma

There is a city block in the heart of Tacoma some people believe is not being put to its best use, stifling economic growth and blunting vitality. Four buildings and three parking lots now occupy 11 parcels along Tacoma Avenue, not far from the City-County Building. Six of the parcels have been tied up since 2005,…

Course | T URB 322

Land Use Planning

Examines the land use planning process at the local level with a focus on the contemporary United States. Review of theories of land use change, arguments for and against planning intervention, and the role of the land use planner in the local land development arena.


Linda Hurley Ishem

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Lisa Hoffman

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News | August 25, 2020

Livable City Year research leads to publication on university–community partnerships

Anne Taufen, associate professor of Urban Studies at UW Tacoma, and Anneka Olson, graduate of UW Tacoma’s Community Planning MA program, recently published an article examining the Livable City Year program, a university-community partnership at the University of Washington. This work was partially supported through Urban@UW. “Especially in this time of polarization, with problems like…

Course | T GIS 311

Maps and GIS

Introduction to map interpretation and basic spatial analysis through the use of geographic information systems (GIS). Emphasizes developing, through hands-on experience, a fundamental understanding of GIS and the technical expertise necessary for applying GIS in a variety of scenarios such as environmental science, urban planning, nursing, social work, and business.


Mark Pendras

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Matthew Kelley

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News | July 16, 2020

Opportunities to engage UW faculty and students to address COVID-19

In recognition of the intense needs of local governments around COVID-19 response and recovery, the LCY program has compiled a list of existing UW courses whose faculty and students are seeking to assist local communities in COVID-related projects. Most projects can start in Autumn 2020 — some as early as Summer 2020. The list of…

Course | T URB 430

Pacific Rim Cities

Examines links between urbanization and globalization on the Pacific Rim and connections between events and social/economic processes in places that seem distinct (e.g., China, Canada, Mexico, Philippines). Case studies and discussion topics include questions of class formation, political change, migration patterns, and gender/family dynamics.


Pierpaolo Mudu

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Course | T URB 479

Planning and Development in the Puget Sound Region

Examines the problems and prospects associated with rapid growth in the Seattle-Tacoma urban region. Includes site visits and discussions with public officials, planners and developers. Topics/sites vary and include such issues as growth management, sprawl, transportation, sustainable development, land use, and environmental protection.

Course | T URB 450

Planning for Sustainability

Examines the growing impact of global sustainability on local spatial planning systems, especially in the US, UK, Europe and South Africa. Specific topics include the philosophies, theories, goals, techniques, and institutional politics of sustainability planning.

Course | TSMG 440

Political Geography: Territory, State and Society

Introduction to political geography from the perspective of political economy and the politics of difference. Discusses both critical approaches to human geography and geographical interpretations of the state. Emphasizes spatial dimensions of capitalist development as mediated by urban, national and global politics.

News | December 20, 2016

Reflections on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change

On November 7th and 8th Urban@UW, in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group (CIG), hosted a symposium to begin transdisciplinary conversation on the multifaceted dynamics and consequences of Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (UEJ). Below are some reflections from this event, and a sample of the resources we’ll…

Course | T URB 380

Study Abroad: Comparative International Perspectives on Cities and the Environment

Interdisciplinary approach to integrating urban and environmental issues in two or more world cities. Topics may include coastal development, transportation, parks, marine conservation, indigenous cultures, environmental planning, gentrification, urban governance, and watershed management.

Degree Program

Sustainable Urban Development (BA)

Accomplishing sustainable urban development is a crucial challenge for the twenty-first century. The University of Washington Tacoma is at the forefront of engaging and educating undergraduate students on this topic. The Sustainable Urban Development degree provides students with a critical and rigorous training in ecological, political, economic, and social aspects of urban development processes.

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Course | T URB 323

Sustainable Urban Development Policies

Examines how public policy mechanisms are used to support and accomplish sustainability through the interweaving of social equity, economic prosperity, and environmental protection. Encourages the development of both critical and constructive perspectives on policies of sustainability.

Course | T URB 360

The African American Urban Experience

Places African Americans at the center of the American urban condition from the colonial era to the 21st century. Interdisciplinary study of U.S. urban history, contemporary social, cultural and policy research and comparative perspectives on race and ethnicity to illuminate the growth and evolution of African American urban communities.

Course | T URB 440

The City and Nature

Examines connections between urban and environmental conditions by investigating the social and material production of urban nature. Challenges conceptual barriers between nature and the city that have evolved over time and considers new strategies for achieving both environmental sustainability and social justice in the city.

News | February 27, 2020

The Debate Over Single Family Housing

Nearly a century into the story of single-family zoning, feelings and ideas around it are starting to shift. The City of Minneapolis and the State of Oregon both recently passed laws that loosen single-family regulations. California has proposed similar measures: some have failed (such as one encouraging denser development near transit), others have succeeded (such…

Course | T URB 321

The History of Planning Theory and Practice

An examination of planning theory and practice with an emphasis on twentieth-century theorists and advocates. Examines the impacts of planning theories and movements on planning practice and urban form in Europe and America.

Course | T URB 301

The Urban Condition

An overview of the city as a place of residence, commerce, and industry. Consideration is given to urban form and function. Social, economic, and political factors affecting urban life and development are discussed. Issues related to social justice and equity are emphasized.

News | July 18, 2017

There’s a map for that

If you own a cell phone or a mobile device you’re likely creating data that could be mapped. “When you add a Yelp review or geotag a tweet you’re actually volunteering geographic information, you are mapping,” said UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Britta Ricker. Most of us use maps to determine our location, to find out…

News | March 31, 2016

Towards a Speculative Politics for African Cities with Edgar Pieterse – 4/12

Join us April 12 at Kane Hall (Room 120) for Visiting Scholar Edgar Pieterse, Please Register for this Public Event Towards a Speculative Politics for African Cities The available frames to understand and reimagine contemporary urban politics in the African context come down two divergent pathways: 1) build the institutional infrastructure to enact the deliberative…

Course | T URB 401

Urban Change and Development

Examines relationships that shape the development of cities under conditions of globalization. Overview of key terms and concepts, examples of changing urban social and economic conditions, and analysis of connections among global processes, urban experiences, and the production of urban space in the United States.

Course | T URB 445

Urban Ecology

Multidisciplinary approach to the study of dynamic interactions among human and ecological systems in urban settings. Covers processes of urbanization and urbanization's impacts on the earth's ecology. Specific themes include how socioeconomic factors and human preferences drive urban patterns and how these patterns affect ecological processes and cause ecological change.

Course | T URB 379

Urban Field Experience

Urban field course based in a metropolitan area. Examines urban problems, issues, and developments through site visits, presentations by local experts, and student research and reports.

Course | T GEOG 321

Urban Geography

Examines the spatial organization of cities in relation to the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. Includes such topics as the evolution of cities, perceptions of urban space, gentrification, race and housing, homelessness, social exclusion, urban redevelopment, suburbanization, and planning. Emphasizes U.S. cities.

Course | T URB 460

Urban Issues in the Developing World

Examines challenges associated with urban development and societal change in developing countries. Examines topics such as mega cities, squatter housing, and informal labor. Adopts a geographical perspective and focuses on local governance issues.

Course | TSMUS 417

Urban Problems and Policies

Develops and applies economic analyses to an understanding of the dynamics and underlying structure of urban economies and urban problems. Draws examples from the local economy and local problems.

Course | T URB 210

Urban Society and Culture

An examination of the social structures of cities. Discusses issues related to class, race, ethnicity, and gender. Considers the impact of societal differences on urban form, residential patterns, and labor markets.

Degree Program

Urban Studies (Cert, BA, MA, MS)

The Urban Studies Program offers a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies with formal options in Global Urbanism and Community Development & Planning. The degree starts with an introduction into the discipline of urban studies with course topics on exploring cities, world development, and urban studies “in practice”. The formal options deliver focused theory and…

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Course | T URB 492

Urban Studies Seminar

Interdisciplinary approach to the study of urban issues and problems. Designed for an in-depth analysis of selected issues. Focuses on one aspect of the city (e.g., gentrification, housing, segregation, sprawl).

Course | T URB 325

Urban Transportation: Problems and Prospects

Provides an overview of urban transportation, it challenges and prospects. Examines historical and contemporary issues such as the relationship of mobility to the urban form, environmental concerns, climate change impacts, and the challenges of sustainable urban transportation.

News | October 20, 2017

Urban@UW compiles Faculty Highlights Report for research, teaching and engagement on homelessness

As part of its recently launched Homelessess Research Initiative, Urban@UW has collaborated with faculty and staff across all three UW campuses to compile a broad-ranging selection of powerful and robust projects addressing homelessness from a research lens. Check out the Faculty Highlights Report to learn more about these efforts and the people behind them.

News | August 18, 2020

Urban@UW Research Spark Grants awardees announced

Urban@UW is excited to announce the awardees for our Research Spark Grants program. The two proposals selected address urgent urban challenges in our region, with a strong focus on community engagement and vulnerable populations.   Co-creating an Adaptive Community-Science Network: Supporting Tribal and Grassroots Action through the Puget Creek Watershed Assessment Urban communities in the…


Yonn Dierwechter

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