[ under construction ]

Global cities seminar

Cities are a critical aspect of global economic, social, and environmental systems. However, it is important to ask: what exactly constitutes a “city?” How do we define “city?” And does this definition change depending upon our global positioning or the issues at hand?

The Global Cities seminar introduces students to the basic skills and knowledge needed to comparatively examine cities from across the world. It also arms students with basic knowledge of city planning practices from diverse contexts and communities worldwide. The course is based upon class discussions and a series of reading responses and papers. Students will debate the merits and shortcomings of a variety of perspectives and approaches to improving cities around the world. As such, the learning goals for this course are to:

  1. Introduce students to the basic concepts needed to be conversant in city planning and international development;
  2. Promote critical thinking and problem-solving with regard to the diverse conditions found in cities across the world;
  3. Explore and test a variety of existing approaches to planning and development globally, most especially to interrogate Saskia Sassen’s “Global Cities” and “World Cities” theses; and
  4. Create more aware global citizens, deepening students’ understandings of their roles in an increasingly global world.


  • Three essays (5 pages each)
  • Final paper (15 pages, which combines the first three essays)
  • Reading Responses

Required Textbook

  • Fainstein, Susan S., & James DeFilippis. (2016). Readings in Planning Theory, Fourth Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley.