Urbanization has been one of the most powerful processes shaping American life. More than three-quarters of the U.S. population is currently classified as urban, suggesting that in many ways understanding contemporary America requires understanding cities—the broad patterns and notable variations in their growth, decline, and in some cases, revitalization. The urban development and social change concentration provides students majoring in any field with a structured program of study that enables them to understand the historical, social, economic and political factors that have shaped U.S. cities and how cities have, in turn, affected the lives of their inhabitants.
The study of urban development and social change is made all the more significant since more than half of the world’s population will soon be living in cities, and urbanization will undoubtedly be one of the key forces influencing life in the 21st century.
Students in the urban development and social change concentration study the key concepts and methodological tools used to explore and analyze urban phenomena, focusing primarily on cities in the United States. Students may also choose to take a course that examines urbanization in other parts of the world. Proceeding from an introductory course through intermediate and advanced courses offered in several different departments, students then apply these concepts and methods in their capstone experience. The capstone can be either a research project or an internship, conducted under the supervision of one of the concentration’s participating faculty or done as part of an urban-research or internship seminar.
For a capstone project, students in the concentration are encouraged to take advantage of the unparalleled opportunities for field research and applied learning that are offered by Clark’s location in the center of Worcester. Like many medium-sized cities in the Northeast and Midwest, Worcester has experienced significant social, economic and political changes over the past several decades, which make it a superb laboratory for learning. Moreover, Clark’s involvement in the University Park Partnership (UPP)—a partnership the University forged with neighborhood groups, businesses, and city and state government agencies—provides unique opportunities for students to contribute to innovative efforts to improve education, housing, and economic and social conditions in our inner-city neighborhood.
Students who pursue the UDSC concentration acquire a solid foundation for Clark’s Community Development and Planning Master’s Program.