This course will analyze the interplay of forces—social, personal, ethnic, political, and economic—that are involved in fashioning the city we know. What are some beguiling ideas for reshaping the city and some contemporary challenges? What does the city’s history tell us about what may happen to such ideas? We will look at topics like immigration, transportation, education, health and public safety, often focusing on specific projects like the building of the Barclays Center and the Second Avenue subway or watershed events like the Eric Garner killing. We will examine how such events and projects reveal the mesh of influences—by government, commerce, community, advocacy groups—that characterize every important decision in carving out an ever-changing city. The hope is that we come to understand the complex, nuts-and-bolt processes through which New York got to be what it is today and will likely evolve in the future.


Joseph Berger is Adjunct Professor at City College, The City University of New York. For many years, he was a reporter for The New York Times, writing about education, religion, and New York City. He has published four books, including The World in a City: Traveling the Globe Through the Neighborhoods of New York

Andrés Orejuela is Instructional Technology Fellow at Macaulay Honors College, The City University of New York.


Photo information: all credit to photographer James Porto.