How has New York navigated both crisis and opportunity, growing from its origins as a peripheral outpost into a world capital? Examining history, culture, literature, the arts, and public policy, the course explores New York's complicated historical origins, dynamic economy, tumultuous politics, multiethnic and multiracial populace, and innovative architecture.
Students are immersed in the city, engaging in field study outdoors, in a safe and rewarding space for intellectual growth and collaboration. We use the built and natural environment as an outdoor classroom, where students work with expert partners (artists, planners, journalists, architects, policymakers, etc.) to wrestle with urgent challenges facing the city at this critical moment, and produce a portfolio of creative and original responses in varied media.
The city is explored through five lenses:
- The Form of the City: How are cities designed and how do urban form and architecture shape our destinies? We study the historic city grid and parks, along with new designs (such as the High Line and Hudson Yards), in order to understand the fundamental dynamics of public space in New York City. Armed with that knowledge, we select a location and design our own proposals for public spaces.
- The Resilient City: How can cities build back better in response to both acute crises and chronic challenges? Course instructors and invited experts introduce students to key policy, financial, and legal issues confronting American urban areas today. Topics include urban sustainability, green energy and transportation, affordable housing, environmental justice, urban planning, and zoning.
- The Just City: What are the ingredients of a just, diverse, and equitable society; and how do we achieve it? We explore the history of immigration and migration to NYC and the experiences of immigrants in the city. We immerse ourselves in the cultures and cuisines of diverse neighborhoods to understand how NYC has provided, and can continue to provide, opportunity, affordability, and social mobility.
- The City of Memory: How do cities build and rebuild their civic imaginations and establish their identities? Who decides what and who we remember and celebrate in the public realm and how? We interrogate existing memorials, explore new stories to tell, and consider new ways to commemorate in the city, choosing a site and a story, and designing a new monument.
- The City of Creativity: How is our understanding of New York – its projected image and self-image – shaped by the art and literature of the city? How does NYC shape American and global popular culture? By reading, interpreting, and creating short stories, street art, poems, popular music, and graffiti, students investigate the connection between the city and creativity, and how the city has become a cultural icon.
Engaging in dynamic discussions about urban history and contemporary affairs, students spend most of their time outdoors, working with invited experts from the public and private sectors, and using design thinking to devise their own policy memos and creative responses. Through consideration of race, class, technology, environment, social welfare, and public policy, participants acquire a solid grounding in the historical origins of contemporary urban issues and a first-hand understanding of specific approaches to pressing urban problems.
Andrew Meyers has dedicated over thirty years to high school and college education, specializing in urban history, college guidance, and experiential learning. He is published in urban and architectural history. Andrew taught and served in leadership for 23 years at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where he was History Department Chair, Interdisciplinary Studies Director, College Counselor, history teacher, and Founding Director of the City Semester Program. For eight years at "City Sem," he supervised a team of six teachers working with thirty students, exploring NYC though expeditionary learning. At the Whittle School & Studios, he designed and implemented the core educational program for a growing network of global schools dedicated to educational innovation and ethical citizenship, working on campuses in New York, Washington DC, and China. Andrew has taught at Columbia University, Connecticut College, and Empire State College. He is a graduate of Princeton, Yale, and Columbia Universities, with degrees in history, architecture, and urbanism.
Tanya Gallo is an independent consultant on urbanism and urban development, with specific interests in public space and place-making. Currently, she is the Director of The Station Alliance. Previously, she was Project Manager for the Lawn on D, at HR&A Advisors, Inc. and Program Manager for the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. She received her MSc in Urbanization and Development at the London School of Economics and was a 2008-9 recipient of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship at Columbia University. In addition, she was the founder and director of DreamYard's ACTION project, a nationally recognized and award-winning arts and social justice program for teenagers in Bronx, New York.
Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.