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Undergraduate Urban Studies

The Urban Studies Program at USF is an interdisciplinary program that challenges students to understand the complexity of the urban experience from the varied disciplinary perspectives in the social sciences, the humanities and the arts. At its core, the program assesses conceptions that have defined urban phenomena for most of the twentieth century, and therefore challenges students to engage critical questions. The Urban Studies Program will not only provide students, through specific curricula and carefully-crafted international programs, with an introductory understanding of the global urban experience, but also encourage them to develop a critical view of San Francisco as an urban center. As stated in the USF Mission Statement, the University of San Francisco “ an urban university.” The Urban Studies Program at USF will educate students in the complexity of urban cultures and serve as the perfect vehicle to prepare leaders who can potentially have a positive impact on the future of urban life and urban form in San Francisco and the world.

The experience of the urban has dramatically changed in the last century. The question of “why people live in cities?” must now take into account compelling variables such as knowledge economies, migration flows, and environmental issues in the face of increasing poverty; virtual communication flows, and heightened concentrations of property capital. The challenge thus consists in finding a balance between advocating local urban practices with an informed understanding of the global issues shaping urbanism in the twenty-first century. The city is not only experienced by direct contact with its physical form, but also through representations and discourses that convey specific perceptions of politics, class, race and gender, both at the local and global levels. An understanding of such representations and discourses is necessary to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the complexity of the city.

Because a Jesuit education is deeply committed to an interdisciplinary approach to learning and to the education of the whole person, and because of the University of San Francisco’s unflinching commitment to social justice, the Urban Studies Program will provide students with the intellectual and practical skills, and the inspiration to become leaders who will potentially impact the future of the urban experience. They will do so by joining NGO’s, city government, local and state government, planning departments, policy think tanks and planning and policy consulting firms.