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GG4578: DEAD CITIES? URBAN GROWTH, CHANGE, DECAY AND DECLINE (2022-2023)

Last modified: 31 May 2022 13:27


Course Overview

Urban history and urban geography often seem as if they are written by victors. They are narratives of growth, construction, and open futures of development. In this course, we will admit the importance of understanding how the city is built for the lives of present-day urban residents. However, we also focus on understanding what happens when urban landscapes and citizens are left unattended and unsupported. How do people ‘make the city’ for themselves in conditions of poverty and decline?

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Joe Pierce

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

None.

Are there a limited number of places available?

No

Course Description

This course highlights the ways that cities and regions decline, shrink, and manage poverty. Often, urban analysis is focused on stories of growth in population and prosperity. But there are many places that, for structural, historical, or accidental reasons, are likely to see enduring poverty and/or shrinking populations for the foreseeable future. How should we think about these places, and how does that help us think about the development process in general?

For the first few sessions of the semester, we will briefly examine conventional narratives of urban, regional, and rural patterns of development. Students will be able to identify clearly how success is usually defined for different types of places. Having established the "normal" view of development, the course then examines a series of case studies in cities and regions around the world. Each of these case studies examines a place that, for varying reasons, is unlikely to improve along the conventional metrics of development. Yet people still make lives and livelihoods in these contexts, and it is possible to think of those lives and livelihoods as improved or worsened by state policy and the choices of private citizens.

These cases will be situated in a variety of locations around the world, including places like Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Glasgow, Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Beijing. The course spends the bulk of its time on urban cases, but we will discuss peri-urban and rural contexts as well. In each location, we will examine the ways in which local patterns diverge from ideals of success, and the underlying causes of these patterns.

A key theme in the course is to think through what to do when "success" by conventional metrics is either undesirable or not plausible. Should we change the metrics? Are there better or worse ways for a city to shrink; or is all decline equivalently bad? If a government is incapable of addressing intractable poverty, what should it do?

Over the semester, students will develop an understanding of how urban and regional decline functions, and how to think about intervening in contexts of poverty and decline. The primary evaluation will be through a pair of projects in which students propose two different interventions to address specific problems in challenged cities. The course discussions will give students a framework for proposed interventions by closely examining what other actors in our various case sites have tried, and discussing how to evaluate the good and bad outcomes for cities where conventionally 'bad' outcomes are the default.

At the heart of the analysis for the semester is a difficult question: what are cities for? When economic success or population growth are not plausible, we are forced to consider more closely the other potential reasons that people choose to live in proximity with each other, and whether or not those are ‘worth’ continuing with in contexts of poverty or decline. In doing so, students will ultimately articulate what they believe are most important as values for development at the same time that they are able to better articulate the implicit values driving most urban development today.


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Lecture during University week s 26 - 35, 39

More Information about Week Numbers


Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Summative Assessments

Design Project: Individual

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 45
Assessment Weeks 39 Feedback Weeks 42

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Proposed intervention in a specific city to mitigate issues of poverty and/or decline. Student will receive written feedback to their essay in addition to their marks.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseAnalyse existing urban cases to understand the distinct factors contributing to their conditions of poverty and/or decline.
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how different urban stakeholders conceptualize and respond to poverty and decline.
ProceduralCreatePropose an intervention in an urban context that addresses or ameliorates (but does not ‘solve’ or ‘overcome’) conditions of poverty and/or decline.

Essay

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 25
Assessment Weeks 30 Feedback Weeks 32

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Feedback

Student will receive written feedback to their essay in addition to their marks.

Word Count 1500
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualAnalyseAnalyse existing urban cases to understand the distinct factors contributing to their conditions of poverty and/or decline.
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how governments and private actors conceptualize, and attempt to achieve, successful patterns of urban, regional, and rural development.
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how different urban stakeholders conceptualize and respond to poverty and decline.

Essay

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 30
Assessment Weeks 33 Feedback Weeks 35

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Feedback

Student will receive written feedback to their essay in addition to their marks.

Word Count 2000
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how different urban stakeholders conceptualize and respond to poverty and decline.
ReflectionEvaluateArticulate and justify the student’s own values with regard to urban, regional, and/or rural development under conditions of conventional success as well under conditions of stress or failure.

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Resit Assessments

Resubmission of failed elements

Assessment Type Summative Weighting
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

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Feedback
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how governments and private actors conceptualize, and attempt to achieve, successful patterns of urban, regional, and rural development.
ConceptualUnderstandUnderstand how different urban stakeholders conceptualize and respond to poverty and decline.
ConceptualAnalyseAnalyse existing urban cases to understand the distinct factors contributing to their conditions of poverty and/or decline.
ProceduralCreatePropose an intervention in an urban context that addresses or ameliorates (but does not ‘solve’ or ‘overcome’) conditions of poverty and/or decline.
ReflectionEvaluateArticulate and justify the student’s own values with regard to urban, regional, and/or rural development under conditions of conventional success as well under conditions of stress or failure.

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