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Growth and Structure of Cities Program
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Ave.
Bryn Mawr. PA 19010-2899
Phone: 610-526-5334
Fax: 610-526-7955

Program Requirements and Opportunities

The information listed below is a direct excerpt from the 2014-15 Course Catalog.

Published annually, the Course Catalog sets out the requirements of the academic programs--the majors, minors, and concentrations. Each Bryn Mawr student must declare her major before the end of her sophomore year. Students may also declare a minor or a concentration, but neither is required for the A.B. degree. Students must comply with the requirements published in the Course Catalog at the time when they declare the major, minor and/or concentration.

The Course Catalog also sets out the College requirements. Students must comply with the College requirements published at the time they enter Bryn Mawr College.

2014-15 Catalog
2013-14 Catalog
2012-13 Catalog
2011-12 Catalog



Students may complete a major or minor in Growth and Structure of Cities. Complementing the major, students may complete a minor in Environmental Studies, or a concentration in Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Peoples and Cultures. Students also may enter the 3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning, offered in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania.

The interdisciplinary Growth and Structure of Cities major challenges students to understand the dynamic relationships connecting urban spatial organization and the built environment with politics, economics, cultures and societies worldwide. Core introductory classes present analytic approaches that explore changing forms of the city over time and analyze the variety of ways through which women and men have re-created global urban life across history and across cultures. With these foundations, students pursue their interests through classes in architecture, urban social and economic relations, urban history, studies of planning and the environmental conditions of urban life. Opportunities for internships, volunteering, and study abroad also enrich the major. Advanced seminars further ground the course of study by focusing on specific cities and topics.

Major Requirements

A minimum of 15 courses (11 courses in Cities and four allied courses in other related fields) is required to complete the major. Two introductory courses (185, 190) balance sociocultural and formal approaches to urban form and the built environment, and introduce cross-cultural and historical comparison of urban development. The introductory sequence should be completed with a broader architectural survey course (253, 254, 255) and a second social science course that entails extended analysis and writing (229). These courses should be completed as early as possible in the first and second years; at least two of them must be taken by the end of the first semester of the sophomore year.

Writing across multiple disciplines is central to the major, drawing on sources as varied as architectural and visual studies, ethnographic fieldwork, archival and textual study, theoretical reflection and policy engagement. Students will begin to write and receive commentary on their arguments and expression from their introductory classes through their required capstone thesis. While most courses in the major have important writing components, at the moment City 229 acts as our primary writing-intensive course, asking students to draw upon the breadth of their interests to focus on researching, writing and rewriting within a comparative framework. We will be expanding our pedagogy in this area over time in conjunction with college initiatives and student feedback. At the same time, students are encouraged to use other classes within the major to develop a range of skills in methods, theory, and presentations, oral and written.

In addition to these introductory courses, each student selects six elective courses within the Cities Department, including cross-listed courses. At least two must be at the 300 level. In the senior year, a capstone course is required of all majors. Most students join together in a research seminar, CITY 398, in the Fall of that year. Occasionally, however, after consultation with the major advisers, the student may elect another 300-level course or a program for independent research. This is often the case with double majors who write a thesis in another field.

Finally, each student must also identify four courses outside Cities that represent additional expertise to complement her work in the major. These may include courses such as physics and calculus for architects, additional courses in economics, political science, sociology, or anthropology for students more focused on the social sciences and planning, or courses that build on language, design, or regional interests. Any minor, concentration, or second major also fulfills this requirement. Cities courses that are cross-listed with other departments or originate in them can be counted only once in the course selection, although they may be either allied or elective courses.

Both the Cities Department electives and the four or more allied courses must be chosen in close consultation with the major advisers in order to create a strongly coherent sequence and focus. This is especially true for students interested in architectural design, who will need to arrange studio courses (226, 228) as well as accompanying courses in math, science and architectural history; they should contact the department chair or Daniela Voith in their first year. Likewise, students interested in pursuing a minor in Environmental Studies should consult with Ellen Stroud early in their career, and those interested in pursuing a concentration in Iberian, Latin American, and Latino/a themes or in Global Asian Studies should consult with Gary McDonogh.

Students should also note that many courses in the department as well as cross-listed courses are not given every year. They should also note that courses may carry prerequisites in cities, art history, economics, history, sociology, or the natural sciences.

Programs for study abroad or off campus are encouraged, within the limits of the Bryn Mawr and Haverford rules and practices. In general, a one-semester program is strongly preferred. The Cities Department regularly works with off-campus and study-abroad programs that are strong in architectural history, planning, and design, as well as those that allow students to pursue social and cultural interests. Students who would like to spend part or all of their junior year away must consult with the major advisers and appropriate deans early in their sophomore year.

Cities majors have created major plans that have allowed them to coordinate their interests in cities with architecture, planning, ethnography, history, law, environmental studies, mass media, social justice, medicine, public health, the fine arts, and other fields. No matter the focus, though, each Cities major must develop a solid foundation in both the history of architecture and urban form and the analysis of urban culture, experience, and policy. Careful methodological choices, clear analytical writing, and critical visual analysis constitute primary emphases of the major. Strong interaction with faculty and other students are an important and productive part of the Cities Department, which helps us all take advantage of the major's flexibility in an organized and rigorous way.

Minor Requirements

Students who wish to minor in the Cities Department must take at least two out of the four required courses and four cities electives, including two at the 300 level. Senior Seminar is not mandatory for fulfilling the cities minor.

3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning

Over the past two decades, many Cities majors have entered the 3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning, offered in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania. Students interested in this program should meet with faculty early in their sophomore year.

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