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Urban Studies

A guide to resources for Urban Studies


The Department of Geography and Urban Studies (GUS) at Temple University aims to provide undergraduate and graduate instruction and research related to urban systems, nature and society, international development, and spatial analysis, with a special emphasis on the geographic analysis of urban dynamics.

GUS aims to provide students with an understanding of: (a) how space, place, and scale shape the interaction between environment and society; (b) critical thinking skills developed through examining a range of analytical approaches to investigate geographic, urban and environmental processes; (c) contemporary explanatory frameworks in Geography and Urban Studies such as: political ecology, feminist and poststructuralist theory, and development theory; (d) core concepts in the fields of Geography and Urban Studies and the application of information technology skills to analyze spatial and temporal information, processes, and patterns through integrative research experiences; and (e) practical considerations of community and environmental organizational settings at the local and regional scales.

The four research themes associated with the department are Social Justice, Globalization, Sustainability, and Geographic Methods. More information about the Department of Geography and Urban Studies research themes visit our research page.

The Department currently offers a B.A. in Geography and Urban Studies, a B.A. in Environmental Studies, an M.A. in Geography and Urban Studies, a P.S.M. in Geographic Information Systems and a Ph.D. in Geography and Urban Studies. GUS currently has over 200 undergraduate majors, 5 Master’s of Arts students, 15 Professional Science Master’s in GIS students 19 doctoral students, and 30 faculty members.

Focus Areas

Focus Areas

Students are trained to conduct theoretically-informed and empirically-grounded research in urban and metropolitan settings (US and international), understand interdisciplinary and integrative analyzes of complex urban processes and problems, and specialize in techniques for urban analysis with an emphasis on GIS, spatial statistics, or qualitative methods. We draw upon our Philadelphia location to provide students with the opportunity to engage in public policy and applied urban research. Furthermore, students can utilize our faculty's linkages with public agencies, educational institutions, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and social movements in our region, many other regions in the US , and several significant international locations.

Our specific research foci include:

PhD Program

The following is taken from the Geography and Urban Studies departmental website.

PhD in Urban Studies beginning Fall 2009

In Fall 2009, the department accepted its first doctoral students in the new program which is designed to educate students for academic careers in teaching and research, as well as for leadership in governmental and private institutions that work on social, economic, environmental, and equity issues in metropolitan regions.

The new doctoral program reflects Temple University's commitment to sustaining and improving cities within its own region and around the world. Under the leadership of President Ann Weaver Hart, Temple is strengthening its urban mission to give the university “a strong role in advancing the city and the region through the creation and application of knowledge” and is expanding its global linkages: “in an era when local conditions are directly linked to global patterns, Temple must not restrict its work on urban trends and problems to the United States alone” (these excerpts from President Ann Weaver Hart's addresses on “21 st Century Cities: Research from Temple” and “Temple in the World,” can be accessed on-line).

The complexity and pace of economic, environmental, and social change require that students are trained in interdisciplinary and spatially integrative analytical frameworks and specialized skills to apply to real-world conditions. Therefore, our curriculum emphasizes theory, applied research, and a range of spatial analytical methods including quantitative (emphasizing Geographic Information Science or GIS) and qualitative skills.

The PhD program is a 61-credit program that admits students holding the bachelor's degree or master's degree in a related social science. To fulfill the degree requirements, students must complete coursework, pass a comprehensive examination, submit a thesis proposal, and then write and defend that thesis.

The program draws upon the interdisciplinary expertise of faculty in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies, but also involves the expertise of graduate faculty in related areas across the University, including Community and Regional Planning, Economics, Sociology, Criminal Justice, Education, and Public Health. Students will engage in research and scholarly activity with scholars who are active in helping to build multiple social science disciplines. In recent years, members of the department have published a half dozen books with leading publishers in the field including Oxford University Press, Wiley and Routledge; contributed articles to leading journals like the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Environment and Planning A, and the Journal of Urban Affairs, etc., and won competitive grants totaling over $2 million. Faculty research has been sponsored by the World Bank, the United Nations, the United States Information Agency, the Overseas Development Institute, the Inter-American Foundation, and the American Institute of Indian Studies.

Graduates of the program with doctorates in Urban Studies will be able to compete for faculty positions in a range of departments –from geography to interdisciplinary urban departments (such as those in urban studies, urban planning, urban development, and a host of mixed departments). They will also be equipped to seek employment outside of academe. Non-governmental organizations, think tanks, research institutes, service delivery institutions, international development and economic development organizations, increasingly conduct independent research and employ graduate degree holders in interdisciplinary areas like urban studies and environmental studies.

Subject Specialist

Gregory McKinney's picture
Gregory McKinney
Charles Library
Room: 350
1900 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Phone: 215-204-4581
Fax: 215-204-5201