Major Requirements

Urban Studies


The urban studies major provides a broadly interdisciplinary understanding of how urban dynamics shape both global interdependence and local spaces. The major stresses the way in which cities and communities are critical to the organization of economic, social, and cultural activities that shape and transform human experiences. Students can take full advantage of the College's strong and diverse academic resources in the urban field through courses at the Trinity campus and local partner schools, community learning in Hartford, study-away opportunities in international cities, as well as internships in a variety of urban settings.


To complete the major, students will take a total of at least 12 courses and:

  • All courses that count toward the major must earn a grade of C- or better.
  • Courses that count toward the major cannot be taken pass/fail.
  • No more than one 100-level course or first-year seminar other than URST 101 can be counted toward the major.
  • Community Learning Initiative Requirement: At least one of the courses must be a Community Learning Initiative course or the community learning research colloquium.
  • Comparative and Global Perspective Requirement: At least one of the elective courses must be either (A) a study-away course or (B) an approved domestic internship that will expand the student's capacity for awareness of global urbanism.
  • At least one of the courses in each cluster must be at the 300 level. If an appropriate 300-level course is not available, students may substitute a research-based independent study with comparable rigor.
  • By permission of the faculty coordinator, up to two courses from a student's study-away experience may be counted toward the major.
  • By permission of the faculty coordinator, up to three courses from the Cities Program may be counted toward the major.
  • No more than three courses are allowed to double-count between urban studies and another major.
  • Students must complete an integrating exercise that synthesizes earlier urban studies work in the major through URST 401, unless they choose to get honors in the major which will require them to complete a one-semester thesis through URST 497, or a two-semester thesis through URST 498 (fall) and URST 499 (spring).


Urban Architecture and the Built Environment:

This cluster focuses upon the role of architecture, planning, and infrastructure in shaping the social and built environment of cities and urban space through art history, history, classics, engineering, and the Cities Program at Trinity.

Urban Culture, History, Society, and Economy:

This cluster includes different paths for creating an urban-focused concentration of four courses. In consultation with their adviser, students may shape a cluster with a social science or humanities focus or thread these two strands together with courses in urban history, urban sociology, and urban economics.

Environmental Policy and Sustainable Urban Development:

This cluster provides students with a focal understanding of critical topics and issues, including environmental degradation, the ecological footprint of cities, relationships between cities and climate change, urban political ecology, renewable energy, and sustainable urban development. This cluster builds on courses in environmental science and public policy as well as selected policy- or environment-focused courses with urban content in anthropology, economics, and political science.

Core courses:

  • Four core courses

    • URST 101. Introduction to Urban Studies or another 200-level comparative urban course

    • URST 201. From Hartford to World Cities

    • URST 401. Senior Seminar

    • A Community Learning Initiative course or the community learning research colloquium


  • Four other courses in urban studies

    • A sequence of four courses in a thematic cluster. At least one course in the thematic cluster must be at the 300 level, and no courses at the 100 level can be counted toward the cluster. This sequence, developed in consultation with the student's adviser, provides a concentration within the interdisciplinary realm of urban studies beyond the content of the core courses.
  • Four other courses in urban studies including either the Capstone Project or Thesis

Capstone Senior Project/Thesis:

Students must complete an integrating exercise that synthesizes earlier urban studies work in the major through URST 401, unless they choose to get honors in the major which will require them to complete a one-semester thesis through URST 497, or a two-semester thesis through URST 498 (fall) and URST 499 (spring).


Community Learning Initiative: What is community learning? At Trinity, we define it as a type of experiential learning—an academic course in which the faculty member works in partnership with a person or group from the local community to involve students in an experience they could not get in the classroom alone. Our community learning program involves almost all of our academic departments, more than 80 community organizations, and about half of our students.

Levy Urban Curricular Fund: The Steven D. Levy '72 Fund for Urban Curricular Programs supports student investigations of a broad range of key urban issues confronting humankind in the 21st century. Of special interest are projects that highlight the urban realities of the city of Hartford. Examples of such issues include diasporic communities, educational and health policy, residential segregation, environmental problems, urban art/culture, human rights, and the creation and maintenance of public spaces (both physical and social).

Grossman Global Studies Fund: The Kenneth S. Grossman '78 Global Studies Fund, established in honor of Professor Eugene E. Leach, supports student investigations of global issues that confront humankind in the 21st century. Examples of such issues include human rights, peacekeeping, the preservation of the ecosphere, migrations and diasporas, international health standards, and the consequences of revolutionary advances in information technology and bioengineering.

Tanaka Research Fund: In 2002 Trinity was awarded a generous grant by the Tanaka Memorial Foundation establishing an endowed fund to allow students to pursue formal research projects abroad, with a special focus on Asia, during the months of July and August. Typically, one grant, ranging from $3,000 to $4,000 in total, is awarded each year for the proposal deemed most feasible and relevant to the wider academic interests of the applicant.

Henry Luce Foundation Grant: In 2012, the Henry Luce Foundation approved a four-year implementation grant of $400,000 to Trinity through its Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE). The four-year grant, which begins in academic year 2013, comes on the heels of a yearlong $50,000 exploration grant received last year through LIASE, bringing the total amount to $450,000 over five years. The funds are being used to fully implement an integrated program linking Asian studies, environmental science, and urban studies by creating innovative strategies to support faculty development, teaching, research, and experiential learning. Thus far six Trinity students with interests in urban studies and environmental science have been awarded a summer research grant to carry out field research in Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, and northern Laos.

Davis Projects for Peace: Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative for all students at the Davis United World College Scholars Program schools to design their own grassroots projects for peace that they themselves will implement anywhere in the world during the summer months. Through a competition on more than 90 campuses, 100 projects will be selected for funding at $10,000 each.

Study Away:

River Cities in Southern China: Trinity College will launch a new summer program taking a group of students to the Pearl River Delta region in southern China, where they will investigate critical historical, socioeconomic, and environmental questions confronting the river cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Studying these dynamic cities sequentially and in close connection offers a fascinating way to glimpse and access the various facets of sustainable development in the PRD that is expected to become a regionalized megalopolis of more than 60 million people by the year 2020. The program will carry 1.5 course credits and .5 Chinese language credit through the initial classroom learning and field visits in Hartford and subsequent traveling instruction by four Trinity professors and local experts. The program, which runs June 1-22, 2016, comprises the two specific courses.

Technos Japan Tour: One faculty or staff member and two students are invited for a two-week trip to Japan to participate in Technos International Week held in Tokyo every year in June. Technos International Week is an event organized by Technos International College of Japan. Its goal is to promote international exchange and understanding between the international guests and the members of the host institution, as well as to offer the guest group the opportunity to experience and appreciate Japanese life and culture.

Honors: To receive honors in Urban Studies a student must complete a one-semester or a two-semester thesis with a grade of A- or better and earn a GPA of at least 3.5 in courses counted toward the major.