Special Programs

Given the interdisciplinary emphasis and flexibility of the Cities program, it is rare that the programs of any two Cities majors will be the same. Recurrent emphases, however, reflect the strengths of the major and incorporate the creative trajectories of student interests.

Praxis: Volunteerism and Internships

The Cities Program is deeply committed to synthesizing the theoretical and analytic study of the classroom with the experience and problems of real cities. Through exercises in our first classes, Philadelphia becomes an urban laboratory in which students must examine buildings, neighborhoods, policies, and solutions, in dialogue with planners, activists, and citizens. For more advanced students, we encourage development of this experiential component of their knowledge through volunteer work, summer projects, and internships.

Volunteerism, in fact, represents a community service experience that many students already bring to the Cities program from high school and work in their own communities. This experience, which can be fostered by a number of Bi-Co programs, enriches discussions and even leads to theses dealing with Habitats for Humanity or issues in education and the environment.

More formal internships tend to emerge around summer opportunities. Many students have taken advantage of their summers to explore career issues with local planners, work with architects, explore the worlds of journalism, or join the struggles of community development organizations. While often this means a return to hometowns across the United States, students have also explored opportunities as diverse as working with a medical clinic in rural Pakistan or organizing squatter communities in Buenos Aires. The Bolton Junior Fellowship, established through a donation from the Elisha Bolton foundation, provides supplemental funding for one junior major to complete an unpaid internship or service-based research each year. Recipients have worked with housing development in Boston, grassroots credit in Washington Heights, New York City, and architecture and planning in Barbados. These advanced internships also underpin many senior theses, as students recombine praxis and theory to rethink problems they have dealt with in a "hands-on" environment.

Within the curriculum, City 450 (Urban Internships) allows students to work on an internship in the Philadelphia area under supervision of a Cities professor under the guidelines established by the Praxis program. Here, the range of interests among majors has translated into an equally wide range of internships, working with local Hispanic community organizations, fighting for environmental legislation, dealing with welfare reform, organizing changing neighborhoods, and working for Philadelphia Magazine. Often these internships become foundations for career choices as well as lifetime civic commitments after graduation. Students wishing to take advantage of these opportunities should consult with the advisers and the Praxis Office before the beginning of the semester.

Minor in Environmental Studies

The Cities Program participates with other departments in offering a Minor in Environmental Studies. Students interested in environmental policy, action, or design should take CITY 175 and GEOL/CITY 103 for credit in the major. Once they follow up with Bio 220 (which may count as an allied course), they can develop their concentration with courses in architecture, policy, and other fields in Cities as well as choosing relevant electives in natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Paperwork for the concentration generally should be filed at the same time as the major work plan. Students also should consider carefully their options with regard to study abroad in the junior year and thesis topics that bridge the major and concentration. Early consultation with the director of Environmental Studies is advised in the planning of courses.

Concentration in Latin American and Iberian Studies

This concentration entails competence in Spanish and completion of Spanish/General Programs 240 at Haverford or equivalent Bryn Mawr course as well as classes inside and outside the major chosen in consultation with Cities advisors. The thesis topic should also reflect interest in Latin American and Iberian topics. This concentration also has links to a five-year cooperative M.A. program in Latin American Studies at Georgetown. Students interested in the concentration should contact Martin Gaspar in Spanish.

3+2 Master in City and Regional Planning

This arrangement with the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania allows a student to earn an A.B. degree with a major in the Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr and a degree of Master of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania in five years. While at Bryn Mawr the student must complete the College Seminar, quantitative, foreign-language, and divisional requirements and the basis of a major in the Growth and Structure of Cities Department. The student applies for the M.C.P. program at Penn in her junior year. GRE scores will be required for the application. No courses taken prior to official acceptance into the M.C.P. program may be counted toward the master's degree, and no more than eight courses may be double-counted toward both the A.B. and the M.C.P. after acceptance. 

Study Abroad and Off Campus

Programs for study abroad or off campus are also encouraged, within the limits of the Bryn Mawr and Haverford rules and practices. In general, a one-semester program is preferred, but exceptions are made. The Cities program 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 interested in spending all or part of their junior year away must consult with the major advisers and appropriate deans early in their sophomore year.

Other Programs

Additional trajectories have been created by students who coordinate their interests in Cities with law, mass media, medicine, public health, or the fine arts, including photography, drawing, and other fields. The Cities program recognizes that new issues and concerns are emerging in many areas. These must be met with solid foundations in the data of urban space and experience, cogent choices of methodology, and clear analytical writing and visual analysis. In all these cases, early and frequent consultation with major advisers and discussion with other students in the major are an important part of the Cities program.


Contact Us

Department of Growth and Structure of Cities

Old Library
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Phone: 610-526-5334