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Space, Society, and the Built Environment

This program recognizes the dramatic growth in the size, number, and population of cities across the globe in the last ten years as the influence of cities across regions and nations deepens. This track examines the ever-evolving form, function, problems, and possibilities in these places. Empirical focus extends to cities and their relations as they operate in North America, the global north, and the global south. Scholarly work in this track rests on the belief that robust theory and incisive empiricism are equally important elements to deeply understanding the current nuances of cities, their processes, and their relations.

Research methods used in this track to advance understanding of cities and metropolitan regions embrace a diverse set of tools and techniques, centering around the synergistic strengths of qualitative, quantitative, and GIS applications. Qualitative techniques (including field observation, ethnographic analysis, open-ended interviewing, survey research, archival search, and discourse analysis), quantitative techniques (including descriptive and inferential statistics, spatial analysis, analytic modeling, social network analysis), and geographic information systems analysis are equally important approaches.

Faculty and students in this program also examine environmental and contextual effects on health, land use change, gender and environmental perceptions,  politics of transportation infrastructure, and vulnerable urban populations.

Program Information for Prospective Graduate Students

Faculty working in Space, Society, and the Built Environment

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  • When William Clark (PhD, '64, geography) arrived in Florida in 1961, en route to the University of Illinois, he struck up a conversation with an African American woman at the train...
  • Professor Clark is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was a 1994 Guggenheim Fellow.
  • Dr. Janey Messina (MS, 2008) is associate professor of social science research methods at the University of Oxford (UK) School of Global and Area Studies.