Professor Alan Lessoff
c/o Department of History
Illinois State University
Campus Box 4420
Normal, IL 61790-4420
The most profound change in human experience in recent centuries is arguably the shift toward cities. Three hundred years ago, the vast majority of people spent their lives in rural areas or small towns. The country was normal and the city the exception. By the mid-twentieth century, a large majority of people in Western societies dwelt in cities, with their lives and attitudes pervaded by urban influences. By the early twenty-first century, for the first time, the majority of humanity lived in cities. Nearly all of the vast challenges facing humanity—social, economic, political, and environmental—are intertwined with the tasks of managing cities and urban regions and making life in them viable and amenable.
This interdisciplinary minor introduces students to the ways that different social-science and humanities disciplines research and explain cities, their development, their structure and life, and their problems and resources. It is intended to provide a foundation for students who envision concentrating professionally and intellectually on cities and urban issues.
The General sequence is designed for students who want to learn about urban places primarily from a social-science perspective, although the sequence will also benefit those with majors in the arts and humanities, business, social services, and other fields. This sequence will be useful especially to those who envision pursuing careers in urban-related fields within public administration, planning, preservation, public history, community development, and social services or to those who wish to pursue graduate study in these areas. The program’s features include required course work in urban geography, history, political science, and sociology or anthropology. Students may choose from a range of elective courses, independent study with urban studies faculty, and an optional internship.
The Urban Education sequence will be valuable to students whose aim is to become PK-12 teachers in an urban context. This sequence’s core provides background in urban education issues as well as urban social science. Students in this sequence will devise a program of electives adapted to their particular fields of teacher preparation. Education majors or certification candidates at all levels—elementary, middle school, and secondary—and in all teaching fields, not just social science, should consider this program. Students interested in this sequence should consult the program advisor as early as possible during their time at Illinois State, in order to coordinate the needed coursework with their certification requirements.