All About Cities

Students focus on study of urban and global environments through Trinity's Urban Studies Major

Trinity College's urban roots run deep. Not only is the College located in Hartford, a capitol city with a dynamic urban vibe, but students at the College have the opportunity to dive into focused study of urban environments through more than 50 urban studies courses and hands-on involvement with urban issues and problems through research, experiential learning, and internships.
"It’s exciting to think about being part of a changing field that’s not only making huge strides on a global scale but also at Trinity," says Renee Swetz '14. "Having combined [urban studies] with environmental science, I’ve had the opportunity to understand major development issues of today from both a social and scientific background.”
Trinity's urban studies major is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding urban dynamics and changes, which means it's compatible with every other major at Trinity. An urban studies major prepares students for a wide variety of career paths, among them geography, city government, urban planning, sustainability, emerging markets, and academia. “It’s a bedrock background to any number of careers in the public or private sector,” says Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies.
Students have the opportunity to dig into "the way in which cities and communities are increasingly critical to the organization of economic, social, and cultural activities that shape and transform human experience,” explains Xiangming Chen, dean and director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies and Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Global Urban Studies and Sociology .
Will Morrison ’14, a native of New York City, says he always wondered about how he could improve the area that he lived in and that he’s always had a fascination with the “ins and outs of urban environments.”
“Cities are the places where people all over the world live,” says Will Morrison ’14. “They’re the centers of cultural and economic growth. There’s no more important place to know about than cities.” Morrison participated in the Cities Program, a special program for entering first-year students that views cities from a range of perspectives in the humanities and social sciences, drawing on insights from history, architectural history, literary and cultural studies, anthropology, economics, environmental science, geography, politics, sociology, and urban planning.
For Morrison, it culminated in a trip, “The River Cities of Asia,” in the summer leading into his sophomore year, in which faculty and students traveled along the Yangtze and Mekong rivers through China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
To supplement the on-campus courses, students may take classes at one of Trinity’s international program sites or through more than 90 affiliated study-away programs. With approval, students may also take courses through Trinity’s partner universities in countries around the world.
“We are really doing something unique,” says Myers. A student can major in urban studies at only a handful of liberal arts colleges in urban environments in the country and at no other school in Trinity’s NESCAC cohort. Students are able to take advantage of the College’s commitment to urban studies by enrolling in courses on the Trinity campus and with local partner schools, engaging in community learning projects in Hartford, studying in international cities, and doing internships in a variety of urban settings.