The Center for Urban and Global Studies is a research and teaching center that plays a critical role in advancing Trinity’s urban and global education on campus, in Hartford, and across the world. The Center serves as a driver, facilitator, convener, and hub for faculty and student research and collaborative curricular and outreach initiatives that enhance student learning and strengthen urban connections while broadening and elevating Trinity’s global presence and academic reputation.


Trinity College values its urban location. We also recognize and cherish the importance of our global connections through study-away programs, research exchanges and affiliations, and a variety of other international ties. CUGS aims to enhance Trinity’s distinct position and reputation as a leading urban liberal arts college with a wide global reach. Trinity aims to be the “preeminent liberal arts college in an urban setting”, as it “prepares students to be bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives. CUGS is a central conduit through which students engage with, connect to and learn to transform the urban world of the 21st century, beginning from Hartford and expanding to examine national and global urbanism and urbanization patterns and processes across every inhabited continent. This vision guides our main goals for CUGS in its continued development:

  1. CUGS aims to be the hub for student learning about urban and global issues at Trinity, as the home of the Urban Studies Program with its major and minor, the Urban China Minor, and the Master’s Program and Graduate Certificate in Urban Planning. CUGS runs a major annual summer field course on urban China and Southeast Asia, which has focused on and traveled through large river cities and is currently based in the dynamic megacities of Shanghai and Shenzhen and their surrounding regions in China, and a January field course every other year in Zanzibar, Tanzania. CUGS also supervises numerous student research projects, through the Kelter Urban Research Fund, the Davis Fund for Peace program, the Thomas Endowment for Urban China Research and Teaching, the Tanaka Fund for Urban Asia research, and research assistantships from the Center itself. Student researchers with CUGS regularly present their findings in the Center’s Global Vantage Point seminar series.
  2. CUGS aims to be the hub for faculty development related to both teaching and research on urban and global issues at Trinity, through both fixed and varied programs. CUGS hosts the Kelter Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Urban Studies, the Rescue Scholar program through the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund and the Scott M. Johnson Endowment Fund, and visiting professors through the Thomas Endowment for Urban China Research and Teaching and Trinity’s partnership with Fudan University in Shanghai. CUGS has also hosted visiting scholars through grants from the Urban Studies Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation. CUGS has developed and instituted numerous research grants, co-curricular initiatives and research workshops – which have in turn led to further grants as well as published books and research articles. Notably, CUGS produced Confronting Urban Legacy: Rediscovering Hartford and New England’s Forgotten Cities (edited by Xiangming Chen and Nick Bacon, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013), with many Trinity faculty and student chapter authors. CUGS regularly invites new and recent Trinity faculty to present research findings in the Global Vantage Point seminar series and other workshops and symposia, alongside developing new urban courses and participating in both the Summer and January field courses.
  3. CUGS aims to be a central player in Trinity’s outreach to the Hartford region particularly in relation to global and urban issues, through its partnerships with and/or financial support to the Connecticut World Affairs Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Leadership Greater Hartford, the Southside Institution Neighborhood Alliance, and the New University in Exile Consortium, among other relationships. CUGS hosts numerous events and conferences that bring together students and faculty from the region and the world to discuss timely urban and global issues.


Officially inaugurated in October 2007 through a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the center has also received support from donors to the Trinity College Mellon Challenge for Urban and Global Studies and generous alumni and parent giving. From its founding in 1823, Trinity offered an excellent classical liberal arts education to generations of students in its historic classroom buildings, but with relatively little engagement with the outside world until the last few decades. As the world beyond Trinity rapidly becomes more urbanized and globalized, the College’s concept of a traditional liberal arts education has been challenged to encompass a more urban-global view. To realize Trinity’s vision, the College created CUGS, augmenting its tradition of liberal arts excellence with an integrated urban-global initiative. CUGS works to create an educational environment that extends classroom learning into Hartford, to urban Connecticut and the US, and to cities around the world, bringing both academic knowledge, research findings, and practical experience back into the classroom. Since its 2007 creation, CUGS has evolved and adapted with administrative changes into the focused research-and-teaching unit outlined above.