Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

AU Scholars | City Life: Interdisciplinary Research and Exploration

Spring 2015

Research question and outcome: What is city life and how does it change over time and from city to city? We will address this question by exploring actual cities (including Washington), researching their culture and history, and discussing their pleasures and problems. The outcome will take the form of a final paper or presentation on facets of these questions you choose to investigate in a particular city (or particular cities) of your choice.

Specific research skills. In this course we will develop three types of research skills:

  1. Fundamental research skills: review of critical thinking and analysis; summary and paraphrase; research and bibliography
  2. Interdisciplinary research: What different insights do different research methodologies reveal about cities? What are the limits of different research methodologies? How do we effectively move between and combine the research methodologies of different disciplines?
  3. Specific skills required for urban research: physical exploration and psychogeography; analysis of space and setting; analysis of the urban imaginary.

Why take part in this course: For the first time ever, more people live in cities than outside of them. And at least while at American University, all of us belong to that number. Cities offer great opportunities for all who inhabit them; they also present extremes of inequality. To understand the unique structures and cultures of city life is of both historical and personal import. To do this requires developing fundamental research skills as well as other skills that are unique to cities and to urban studies. In this course, you will learn about cities, you will learn about urban studies and cultural studies, and you will learn about doing interdisciplinary research.