Sociology | Social Problems & Policies
S101 | 23066 | Cornell

Topic:  Envisioning the City

Houses, roads, school buildings, street trees, shopping malls,
interstate highways, hedges:  all of these elements make up what
scholars of urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and
the environment call “the built environment.”  We can ask two
questions about the built environment:  What did people do to create
it?  How does it affect human behavior?  In S101 you will lean how to
identify the various components of the built environment and how to
analyze them.  For example, as we walk down an alley you might notice
that the residential end has canopy, sub-canopy, and understory trees,
while the commercial end has only canopy trees surrounded by pavement.
You will use the knowledge you gain through this analysis to design
landscapes which respond to specific social problems.  For example, if
commercial areas had the same mix of trees as residential ones do,
they would be much more habitable places.  You will also read about
the history of cities, about the political and economic forces which
create them, and about contemporary problems in cities.  The course
will consider cities all over the world, and through history.  This is
a studio-style course.  You will spend your time visiting sites in
Bloomington, drawing maps and graphs of those sites, analyzing yours
and others’ work, and presenting your work in class.  For example, you
might take photographs, make drawings, plot out a map, or construct a
model to answer a question such as “Who is on the streets on Tuesday
at midnight?”  Two of the three portfolio projects involve designing
new environments for those sites which respond to specific social
problems.  Bloomington, Indiana is not the topic of this course.
However, since it is nearby, and since its social problems are like
those in many other cities, it will be the principal field site for
the course.