Course Info

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Welcome to Urban Studies 101! This course will introduce you to the field of Urban Studies. We will investigate why cities are places of economic and political opportunity for some and places of deprivation, discrimination, violence and impoverishment for others. We will explore how urban restructuring since the 1970s has increased the income gap in major metropolitan areas such as New York. We will also discuss different theories of urban poverty and inequality and examine the impact of immigration, racial segregation, suburbanization, public policies, and social movements on U.S. cities and their inhabitants. Paying particular attention to inequalities based on race, class, and gender, we will analyze proposals to reduce these inequalities.

With the intention of making this class more meaningful, this class and its assignments will be centered around the co-creation of a digital urban archive that will not only serve certain purposes in our class, but will serve as a public archive containing accessible information about urban development and urban inequality. YOU and I will be the creators and authors of this archive.

Specific Course Objectives: 

  • Learn the history of US urban restructuring from the latter half of the 20th century to the present.
  • Gain familiarity with contemporary approaches to the study of poverty and inequality from a variety of social scientific perspectives and disciplines.
  • Gain familiarity with basic urban research methods such as fieldwork, survey research, statistical research, and historical analysis.
  • Understand the difference between different disciplinary approaches to the study of urban areas.
  • Learn to read and critically analyze urban policy proposals.
  • Gain familiarity with specific digital technology tools (Google drive, WordPress, etc.) and understand how they can serve the education of oneself and others.
  • Gain experience writing for a public and diverse audience.
  • Build on one’s experience with respect to group work.

General Education Requirements: For new students, this course fulfills one three-credit Flexible Core – US Experience in its Diversity requirement in Pathways.  For continuing students, it fulfills the “Analyzing Social Structures” Area of Knowledge and Inquiry requirement and the “United States” Context of Experience requirement for QC’s Perspectives (PLAS) curriculum.

Time&Place: Class meetings are scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:15a to 10:30a in Powdermaker Hall 115.

Office Hours:Office hours are listed at the top of this syllabus.  Should you need to meet at another time please email me with a variety of times and dates so we may schedule something.

Accessing Course Materials & Information: Materials for this course lives in three places, our main course site, our course blog, and our blackboard site.

  • Course site:
    This course site is a Qwriting site that houses all course information including our syllabus, assignments, most* readings, any additional resources or extra credit opportunities and more. I’ll also post any and all announcements with course updates or changes here.
  • Course blog:
    An important component of our class is our course blog, named The Urban Inquirer. This is where you will post and comment and otherwise further synthesize, analyze, critique and discuss course material and topics outside of class.
  • Blackboard site:
    Our blackboard site is very minimal, acting only as a library for any readings that are not publically accessible online. Some of these readings are the most important readings in this class so make sure you have access to your account.


Course Requirements

Reading: All assigned readings should be completed by the corresponding class date, per the syllabus.  You are responsible for knowing the key ideas, concepts, processes, actors and history outlined in the readings, so annotation of the reading is strongly suggested.

Attendance & In Class Participation: Regular, timely attendance and active participation in class discussions are essential elements for excelling in this class.

Please note that we have in-class group activities on Wednesday 8/30/17, Wednesday 9/6/17, Monday 9/18/17, Monday 12/11/17 and Wednesday 12/20/17.

GRADING: If you attend class regularly, arrive on time, and contribute to class discussions regularly, you will receive full credit. Regular tardiness or absences will be noted and will affect your grade.

Assignments: Students have 3 assignments to complete for this course.  These assignments are designed to help students engage course material in both individual and collective ways.  In addition, these assignments are aimed at co-constructing a digital archive that arranges and displays that which we learn and discuss throughout the semester in a way that is easily accessible by outside audiences. Descriptions of the assignments can be found by clicking on the links below.

Assignment 1: Reflections (3 in total)
You will have a reflection due at the beginning, middle and end of the semester. Each asks you to reflect on course material, what you’ve learned, and the work you’ve produced this semester as a way of making you a present, conscious and agentive party in your learning process.
Due by 12midnight on Monday 9/11/17, Friday 10/20/17, and Friday 12/8/17.

Assignment 2: Course Blog Contributions & Comments (4 in total)
The majority of assignments in this class will be completed by you as a blogger for a public audience. Submissions will be posted by you to our course blog, The Urban Inquirer, which is publically accessible online. Each student will be asked to compose at least 6 blogs over the course of the semester, though you may always post more, and to comment on other students blogs. Students will be grouped and asked to first and foremost engage with the blogs of those in their groups. They of course may also read and comment on other student’s blogs as well.
Due WEEKLY-ish starting Friday 9/15/17. Post by 12midnight on Fridays.

Assignment 3: Poverty Debate (1)
Understanding the 3 competing perspectives on poverty explains a lot about how policies around poverty and inequality are constructed, thus students will spend two class periods discussing and deconstructing these perspectives, and composing a debate among 3 political pundits each eliciting a competing perspective of poverty.
Due Friday 9/22/17 by 12midnight.

Exams: You will have two in-class exams: a midterm and a final. Both exams will include multiple choice and short answer questions. Study materials will be shared with the class one week before the exam.

  • The Midterm exam will be held in class on Wednesday 10/18/17
  • The Final exam will be held in class on Monday 12/11/17



  • Attendance & In-Class Participation: 10% (includes participation in in-class activities)
  • Assignment 1, Reflections: 20%
  • Assignment 2, Course Blog Contributions: 25%
  • Assignment 3, Poverty Debate: 5%
  • Midterm Exam: 20%
  • Final Exam: 20%

*If at any point in the semester you are curious about where you stand in the class, you can use this breakdown to determine what your grade is.


Extra Credit Opportunities:

Students will have the opportunity to earn extra credit throughout the semester.  Extra credit opportunities will be announced on the course website as they come up.  Students will only be able to earn up to 5 pts of extra credit per half of the semester.  If a student exceeds 5 pts during the first half of the semester, the additional points will roll over to the second half of the semester.  If a student exceeds 5 pts during the second half of the semester, only 5 pts will be used towards improving the students grade.

Pre-midterm due date: Friday 10/13/17
Pre-final due date: Friday 12/8/17

BE MINDFUL OF DUE DATES FOR EXTRA CREDIT.  If you submit extra credit assignments late, you WILL NOT receive any credit.


Course Policies:

Respectful participation: Please note that people come to this class with different kinds of academic expertise, different life experiences, and different customs (both individual and cultural). These differences can, and hopefully will, contribute positively to the substance and quality of class discussion. However, because these differences are often related to social inequalities, they can also be a source of misunderstanding and frustration. It is thus important to keep in mind that active, respectful class participation is as much about listening to and engaging the ideas of others as it is about speaking one’s own mind.

In-Class Technology: You are permitted to use laptops and tablets in class to reference readings and take notes.  However, I reserve the right to amend this policy for any student or the class as a whole if the device becomes disruptive or distracting in any way.

That said, you should be aware that recent research finds that students do better in class when they are not distracted by their devices.  Follow the following links to learn more:

Phones should be turned off/silenced and put away during class.  If your phone proves to be distracting or disruptive, I reserve the right to hold your phone on my desk during class.


Incompletes: Except in extraordinary circumstances and with proper documentation, incompletes will not be granted for this course. After-the-fact requests for extensions and incompletes will not be considered. I really mean this.

Grade Change Policy (for all assignments and exams): Students disputing an answer marked wrong must submit their dispute in writing and it should include 1) documentation of the grading error and 2) evidence of the error (from the text or lecture materials). These requests should be submitted directly to Professor Hackett only.

Email Policy and Etiquette: Demonstrate to me that you are a college student and an adult.  Need I say more… If I must, review the tips on email correspondence with professors at the following links (also found under ‘Resources’ on the course website).

Academic Dishonesty & Plagarism: Queens College takes cheating and plagiarism very seriously; if caught you may fail the course and/or be suspended from the college. Don’t copy other people’s work. This means that you should not take the words or ideas of another person and submit them without acknowledging the original author. Examples of plagiarism include copying from another student’s homework assignment or taking phrases, paragraphs or papers from course readings, the internet or other students and representing them as your own. You must always indicate when you have used an idea from someone else’s work; anything else constitutes stealing from others and violates both the ethics of this class and established academic standards. There are now sophisticated search engines that prove beyond a reasonable doubt when students have downloaded web-based material and submitted it as their own (CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, adapted June 28, 2004). See

You should know that using cell phones or other devices during exams, or writing down exam questions, is considered a serious violation of the above policy! Such behavior will result in failure of the exam and immediate referral to Queens College’s Academic Integrity Officer.


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