IHP Cities in the 21st Century

People, Planning & Politics

Explore major cities within the global economy and witness how citizens live, work, and organize to advance social justice in urban environments.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework recommended

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Feb 6 ‎– May 18

Program Countries

South Africa, Argentina

Program Base

Argentina, South Africa

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why Study Cities in the 21st Century?

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, like COVID-19, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Cape Town and Buenos Aires: Through the prism of social justice, examine how global cities work and operate within the global economy. This program takes a holistic and interdisciplinary view of academic topics, drawing not only from articles and faculty lectures but also student observations, guest lectures, and  excursions. Assignments typically involve written essays, oral presentations, and collaborative groupwork. Meet with thought leaders and academics, public agencies, planners, elected officials, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots groups to see how urban citizens organize to envision, build and create more just cities. Along the way, you will focus on fieldwork methods, practice and ethics whilst completing an independent comparative project on a topic of your choice. By immersing yourself in these international cities undergoing rapid change, compare how global politics, economics, local geography, and culture shape social relations in cities across continents, and how each faces its own unique challenges.

Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

Photos on this page may depict program sites from previous semesters. Please view the Program Sites section of this page to see where this program will travel in spring 2021.

Highlights

  • Explore politics, economics, geography, and culture in the built environment.
  • Learn how to critically “read” a city and understand interconnected systems.
  • Meet renowned academics, thought leaders, elected officials, and NGOs.
  • Observe community activism, media, and businesses that make a culture thrive.
  • Live and study in two world cities undergoing rapid change and facing unique challenges.

Prerequisites

None, but previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in urban studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, or other related fields is strongly recommended.

Program Sites

South Africa: Cape Town

(8 weeks)

Witness firsthand how a society, grossly unequal by design, seeks to transform itself into one that provides equitable economic opportunity for all. Speak with local government leaders, social activists, and academics involved in Cape Town’s post-apartheid transformation, while experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of Table Mountain and Cape Point, where the currents of the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, as well as the charming cobblestone streets of Green Market Square, and a number of apartheid-legacy townships.

Argentina: Buenos Aires

(7 weeks)

The cosmopolitan capital city of Buenos Aires has a history with an enduring legacy: European-influenced architecture; an extraction economy; large landowners; an influential Catholic church; charismatic political leadership and military dictatorships; a proud tradition of public protest; and a cultural heritage embedded in the tango. Underlying it all are the complex lives of a diverse society where former owners now work to survive, and former workers now manage retaken factories.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Sociological contexts, constraints and opportunities of urban life
  • Understanding and defining what is a “just city”
  • Determining who “owns” the city
  • How political action by individuals, community organizations, social movements, and local governments shape city life
  • How urban citizens create a sense of place, community, and identity
  • What must be done to move toward ecologically sustainable cities

Culture and Society of World Cities

Culture and Society of World Cities – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 4 credits)

This course examines the many ways people make urban life meaningful. What are the historical, political-economic, and sociocultural contexts that frame the opportunities, constraints, and uncertainties of urban life? How do people create a sense of place, of community, or of urban identity? In addressing these questions, we will explore the core concepts and conceptual frameworks that anthropologists and sociologists use to understand lived experience in cities. Our study of social and cultural urban processes emphasizes the relationship of space to identity and power. The course examines aspects of identity, including race and ethnicity, gender, class, family, and citizenship. In each city, we will grapple with conflicts, struggles, and celebrations that are embedded in and emerge from specific historical, socio-economic, and political contexts. We will examine cities as physical and imagined spaces, exploring how spatial and social life are mutually shaped, and how the meanings of cities are multiple and contested by different groups and actors with often incompatible agendas.

Urban Politics and Development

Urban Politics and Development – syllabus
(DVST3500 / 4 credits)

Cities are simultaneously centers of individual opportunity and civic engagement and sites of inequality and economic disparity. In this course students explore, question, and critique the intersection of politics and development in cities at multiple scales, from local to global, and examine how related institutions, policies, and processes shape the evolution of cities. This course examines a variety of structural elements and processes, including relationships between municipal and regional institutions, privatization, community development, economic growth, industrial restructuring, informal economy, and poverty and income distribution. We will pay particular attention to these guiding questions: What economic, social, and political factors (local, national, and international) shape the development/organization of cities? Who exercises power in cities and what are their sources of power? Whose voices are considered relevant in the discussion of what the city could be? In the Urban Politics and Development course, we will explore how and why urban development is a tension filled, conflictual process that occurs at multiple scales.

Contemporary Urban Issues

Contemporary Urban Issues – syllabus
(URST3000 / 4 credits)

This research and methods seminar is designed to give students the tools to identify and analyze challenges common to cities across continents and cultures, and to distinguish such challenges from others that are rooted in particular histories and human geographies. It is also focused on developing in students the ability to make meaningful comparisons, particularly concerning configurations of political, economic, and social power as they are manifested in urban space. Using these tools, students have an opportunity to pursue individual comparative research on topics of their own choosing. The course emphasizes the multi-disciplinary analysis of issues and integrates the experience-based learning of the semester.

Urban Planning and Sustainable Environments

Urban Planning and Sustainable Environments – syllabus
(URST3500 / 4 credits)

Within cities we find key challenges to long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability; processes of exclusion and deepened inequalities are occurring at such a scale that new geographies of power and injustice arise. In this context, planning and socio-spatial practices have become key instruments to understanding and intervening in complex realities that require both physical and social comprehension. This course introduces key concepts about the history, theory, and practice of urban planning and sustainability. It emphasizes how the physical elements of cities are related to and interact with the social, cultural, economic, and political aspects of cities.

Homestays / Housing

Accommodations

Students’ accommodations will include a mix of hostels, guesthouses, and small hotels/dorms.

Career Paths

Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Reporter for American Public Media’s Marketplace, Los Angeles, CA

  • Program director at Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, NY

  • Director of cross agency partnerships at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity, New York, NY

  • Executive director of LivableStreets Alliance, Cambridge, MA

  • Analyst in the urban investment group at Goldman Sachs

Faculty & Staff

IHP Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning & Politics

The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.

Kelly Rosenthal, MS
Program Director
Nicholas Eppel
Country Coordinator, South Africa
Carolina Rovetta, MFA

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown
CN-btvdYaFc
  • A DAY IN THE LIFE OF IHP

    Explore a Day in the Life of an IHP student!

    Learn More