Course Description and Syllabus

This class is a capstone experience for upper-division students with previous coursework in urban geography and/or social science research methods. This quarter, we will use the Seattle area to consider how social/cultural, political and economic difference/diversity are created, sustained, or altered in urban areas. You will examine existing research and writing about the Seattle area and conduct your own field research in a neighborhood in the metro area. In a 4-part project focused on a neighborhood of your choice, you will gather data through participant observation, archival and public records, photography and other visual methods. Your interpretation of these data will be guided by key conceptual frameworks that critical geographers (and others) have used to try to understand the production & transformation of difference: neoliberal urban governance, relational poverty, and critical race theory. Throughout the quarter, you will be taking significant responsibility for developing the structure and content of the course, contributing readings for a collaboratively-developed course reader and planning/facilitating some of our class sessions.

The success of the class is especially dependent on everyone’s participation, enthusiasm and collaboration!


The course is designed to help you:

  • Learn about and practice critical social science methodologies in the everyday spaces of the urban environment.
  • Actively use concepts from critical human geography (neoliberal urbanism, relational poverty, critical race theory, others you may decide to add) to produce knowledge through interpretive research.
  • Deepen the collaboration, research, and representation skills you have developed in prior geography classes.
  • Gain a deeper appreciation for what urban geography and related disciplines have to offer you the student, you the researcher, and you the citizen.
Send questions about this workspace to Sarah Elwood.