Global Urban Humanities

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Global Urban Humanities Graduate Certificate provides an academic structure for the study of contemporary and historical cities using methods from the environmental design disciplines, the arts and humanities, and the interpretive social sciences. Global Urban Humanities is an emerging interdisciplinary field in which hybrid methods of investigation, including artistic and interpretive as well as analytical approaches, are applied to the study of urban form and experience.

Through a three-course series, the Certificate offers PhD and Master's degree students the opportunity to supplement their major areas of study with courses that explore cities through a variety of disciplinary approaches. In particular, the Certificate emphasizes the intersection of interpretive approaches from the arts and humanities (including close reading, formal analysis, discourse analysis and the making of artistic work products) with methods from the environmental design disciplines (including spatial analysis, representation, and iterative design interventions as a means of research).

The Certificate Program is led by Principal Investigators Jennifer Wolch, Dean of the College of Environmental Design and Anthony J. Cascardi, Dean of Arts & Humanities Division of the College of Letters & Science.

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Any UC Berkeley graduate student in good standing (GPA of 3.0 or better) may apply. To apply, students should send their Berkeley course transcript and their completed Graduate Application Form to the Global Urban Humanities Initiative. Applications are accepted twice a year during the fall and spring semesters.

Application forms and the student handbook can be found here.

Certificate Requirements

There are three required courses for the Global Urban Humanities Graduate Certificate: 

  • a Core Seminar 

  • a Core Interdisciplinary Research Studio

  • an Elective

Core Seminar

The Core Seminar will introduce you to theories and methods for investigating urban form and the human experience in cities through readings, discussion, written assignments, and exercises that may include ethnographic interviewing, mapping, and visual representation. You will be helping shape the emerging field of urban humanities through readings that may include authors, such as Michel de Certeau, Partha Chatterjee, Guy Debord, David Harvey, Henri Lefebvre, Kevin Lynch, Richard Sennett, and Abdoumaliq Simone. The course will be offered in Spring 2020 as The City, Arts and Public Space and will be taught by an instructor from the Arts & Humanities and an instructor from CED.

Core Interdisciplinary Research Studio

The Core Interdisciplinary Research Studio will give you an opportunity to conduct a fieldwork-based investigation of a city. The course is inspired by the tradition of studio pedagogy in architecture and urban planning and results in work products that often take the form of visual products as well as written essays. This research studio is designed to provide a unique experience that allows students without a background in design to fully participate in the studio experience along with students who do have that background. No previous design experience or ability to produce visual products is required. The course will be offered in Spring 2019 as Berlin: The Guilt Environment taught by Lauren Kroiz (History of Art) and Andrew Shanken (Architecture).

Elective Courses

The elective course is an opportunity for further exploration of topics or methods in the study of cities. For the elective requirement, you are required to take a course outside your home discipline and division. (Exceptions will be considered by petition. For the purposes of this requirement, History will be counted as a Humanities discipline even though it is in the Social Sciences Division.) You can find a list of electives here. You may petition to count courses not on this list using the program’s Elective Petition Form, which can be found on this page.

Research Resources

Global Urban Humanities Fellowships

The Global Urban Humanities Fellowships for PhD students at UC Berkeley support research on contemporary and historical cities that engages approaches from the arts and humanities and the humanistic social sciences, and from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning. GUH Fellowships are awarded to PhD students who will have advanced to candidacy by Spring 2020. GUH Graduate Student Fellows receive up to $21,000 in a stipend, which may be used to cover fees and other expenses.

Global Urban Humanities Initiative Student Publication Grants

Global Urban Humanities Initiative Student Publication Grants support the development of innovative student publications with stipends of $5,000 per student for interdisciplinary editorial teams, plus $4,000 for production costs. Each team must include one graduate student from the College of Environmental Design and one from the Arts & Humanities Division. In the past, we have supported publications that present their material in both written and web-based formats.


Teaching Opportunities

Global Urban Humanities courses regularly hire graduate student instructors and researchers (GSIs and GSRs). Please visit our GUH website Opportunities page for more information.

The Global Urban Humanities Initiative will offer travel and/or course support grants and summer salary to interdisciplinary faculty teams teaching our graduate and undergraduate studios. The grantees for the undergraduate and graduate studios for 2019-2020 have already been selected. To learn more, visit the GUH website

Global Urban Humanities will also offer course enhancement grants to faculty to expand and improve Arts & Humanities, interpretive Social Sciences, and College of Environmental Design undergraduate and graduate courses. We accept applications in the spring of each year. Details are available on the GUH website.

Program Benefits

Intellectual Community

The Global Urban Humanities Graduate Certificate provides a unique opportunity for making connections with students from across the campus with a shared interest in global cities, including urban areas in the United States. Participation in the Certificate program makes you part of an active community of scholars, urban practitioners and artists engaged in developing new methods of research and teaching.

Global Perspective

The Certificate is based on the notion that learning occurs in many directions and that cities in the Global South are important sources of knowledge and not just objects of study. The same is true of diverse neighborhoods within global cities in North America and the Western world.

Interdisciplinary Approach

The certificate offers a framework for incorporating theories and methods for interrogating urban places from disciplines both within and outside students’ home departments. For students planning to enter the design and planning professions, the Certificate will provide an opportunity to incorporate critical approaches from the humanities in their work. For students in the humanities and social sciences, the Certificate will facilitate their participation in coursework that addresses both urban form and urban experience, and provide a chance to experience the research studio method, a pedagogy central to environmental design education.

Enhancement of Employability

For PhD students, the Certificate will demonstrate not only your knowledge of cities but your exposure to methods of experiential, project-based learning that may be valued by academic employers. GSI and GSR opportunities may give you a chance to build your pedagogy portfolio. For students in professional programs, the Certificate shows your interest in the human dimension of cities and your ability to interpret urban culture and experience through ethnography, storytelling, mapping, visual representation and other methods.

Faculty and Instructors


Charisma Acey, Associate Professor. Water, sanitation, basic services delivery, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, environmental justice, urban governance, participatory planning, community-based development, international development, development planning, sustainable development, African studies.
Research Profile

Weihong Bao, Associate Professor. Film theory and history, media archaeology, critical theory, visual and performance culture, Chinese language cinema, transnational genre cinema, comparative media history and theory.

Anna Livia Brand, Assistant Professor. Intersection of race and space, historic black neighborhoods, gentrification, resistance, New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, American North and South, urban planning, landscape architecture, design.
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Teresa Caldeira, Professor. Comparative urban studies, urbanization in the global south, social theory, ethnography, qualitative methodology.
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Maria Moreno Carranco, Professor. Sociospatial studies, architecture, urban studies, Mexico City, materiality, power, performance.
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Anthony J. Cascardi, Dean of Arts & Humanities. English, comparative literature, literature, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, aesthetics, early modern literature, French, Spanish Baroque.
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Greg Castillo, Associate Professor. Architectural history, design discourses and practices, aesthetic theory, counterculture, modernism, interwar and postwar America and Europe, Cold War, Germany, America.
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Margaret Crawford, Professor. Everyday urbanism, evolution, uses and meanings of urban space and the rapid physical and social changes on villages in China's Pearl River Delta .

C. Greig Crysler, Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, CED. Architecture, geopolitics of architectural discourse, globalization and social production of the built environment, architecture and identity.
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Nicholas de Monchaux, Professor. Architecture, urban design and organization, natural and manmade systems.
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Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
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Walter J. Hood, Professor. Urban design, community development, landscape architecture, environmental planning, landscape design, citizen participation, design of architecture and landscape.
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Shannon Jackson, Professor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Arts + Design. Rhetoric, performance studies, American studies, 20th century art movements and critical theory, local culture and intercultural citizenship in turn-of-the-century United States, history and theory of theatre and performance art.
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Lauren Kroiz, Associate Professor. History and theory of photography and new media, race and ethnic studies, the relationships between regionalism, nationalism and globalism.

Angela Marino, Associate Professor. Theatre and performance studies, Latin American and US Chicana/Latino performance, festivals and carnival, political cultures.
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Nicholas Mathew, Associate Professor. Beethoven, Haydn, music in Vienna, music and politics, music and urban culture, aesthetics, piano performance, historical performance practices.
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Susan Moffat, Project Director. Cities, mapping, storytelling, cartography, public space.
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Greg Niemeyer, Associate Professor. Art, film studies, digital media installations, photography.
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Ronald L. Rael, Professor. 3D printed buildings, additive manufacturing, earth architecture, mud, dirt, dust, U S -Mexico border wall, arid landscapes, ranching, acequias, alipne deserts, ceramics, rural architecture, ruralism, animation, digital modeling, furry buildings, unnatural materials, rasquachetecture.
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Harsha Ram, Associate Professor. Russian and European romanticism and modernism, Russian and European avant-gardes, Russian, European, Near Eastern and South Asian poetic traditions, Indian literature, Italian literature, Georgian history and literature, theories of world literature, literary theory, comparative poetics, genre theory, literary history, comparative modernisms and modernities, vernacular and high culture, cultural and political history of Russia-Eurasia and the Caucasus, postcolonial studies, theories of nationalism, imperialism and cosmopolitanism, the city and literature .
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Scott Andrew Saul, Professor. English, African American studies, 20th century American literature and culture, performance studies, jazz studies, histories of the avante-garde.
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Andrew Shanken, Professor. Memory, visionary architecture, the unbuilt, paper architecture, heritage conservation, architectural representation, urban representation, diagrams, history of professions, historiography, world's fairs, expositions, California architecture, themed environments.
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Stephanie Syjuco, Assistant Professor. Visual art, installation, cultural objects, archives, social practice.
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Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor. English, American Studies, African American studies, slavery, American South, black culture and history, music, ethnomusicology.
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Anne Walsh, Associate Professor. Video, performance, audio, photography, text.

Jennifer Wolch, Dean of the College of Environmental Design, Co-Principal Investigator. Sustainable urbanism, urban design and public health, poverty and homelessness, human-animal studies.
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Winnie Won Yin Wong, Associate Professor. Labor and creativity, modern and contemporary art, intellectual property, China studies, consumer cultures.
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Ghigo Di Tommaso, Lecturer. Landscape architecture, urban design, cities.

Jason Luger, Lecturer. Cities, art activism, urban planning, public space.

Ivy Mills, Lecturer. Visual culture, literature, Africa, African diaspora, Senegal, Global South.
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Susan Moffat, Lecturer. Cities, mapping, storytelling, cartography, public space.
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Erika Chong Shuch, Lecturer. Interdisciplinary, performance, theater, dance, music, design, everyday life.
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Emeritus Faculty

Michael James Dear, Professor Emeritus. Social theory, disability studies, urban theory, comparative urbanism.
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Contact Information

Global Urban Humanities

230 Wurster Hall #1820

Phone: 510-664-4077

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Project Director

Susan Moffat

230 Wurster Hall #1820

Phone: 510-926-2771

Program Coordinator

Sarah Hwang

230 Wurster Hall #1820

Phone: 360-448-8322

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