Livable Cities

NEW FOR 2014-15

This Great Problems Seminar addresses the possibilities and liabilities of human life in the urban environment. As an increasing proportion of the world’s population becomes urban, the possibilities for human achievement and the particular difficulties encountered in city life become more pressing. Through lectures, readings, discussion, and group projects this course will examine the interdisciplinary topics of urban ecology, environmental justice, city design and planning, and gentrification as they relate to urban landscapes. Urban sprawl can pose many threats to the environment, and we will examine ecological conditions (e.g., land use, pollution, heat island), patterns (e.g., changes in diversity), and processes (e.g., invasion of non-native species) associated with urbanization. We will use lessons from ecology, case studies, and peer-to-peer learning to develop an understanding of historical global and local urban trends (e.g., Levittowns, urban village community). Students will investigate the role of the emerging fields of new and ecological urbanism as a way to increase sustainability and restore natural environments in urban settings. Additionally, students will develop an area of expertise in one problem of urban living and research, present, and propose sustainable solutions. 


  • Course takes place in A & B terms
  • Professors: Marja Bakermans (Biology) and Beth Eddy (Humanities and Arts)
  • Class Meetings: A Term Tuesday and Friday 2:00-3:50, B Term Monday and Wednesday 12:00-1:50pm
  • This seminar sequence will count towards a Biology (BB 1000) and Humanities (HU 1100) general elective credit.


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Student Projects

Check out some of the past student projects: