Urban Humanities

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Certificate in Urban Humanities provides an academic structure for the study of urban life and urban form using methods from the environmental design disciplines, the arts and humanities, and the interpretive social sciences. The Urban Humanities are an emerging interdisciplinary set of practices in which hybrid methods of investigation, including artistic and interpretive as well as analytical approaches, are applied to the study of urban 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 and urban experience 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 UC Berkeley Future Histories Lab is the home to the Certificate in Urban Humanities, which grew out of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative. Future Histories Lab focuses on community-engaged, project-based studio courses that seek to reveal hidden histories in order to imagine new narratives.

The Certificate Program is led by Principal Investigators Jennifer Wolch, Dean Emerita of the College of Environmental Design and Sara Guyer, Dean of the Arts & Humanities Division of the College of Letters & Science. Susan Moffat is Creative Director of Future Histories Lab and Executive Director of the Global Urban Humanities Initiative and can answer any questions you have about the Certificate.

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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 on a rolling basis but you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible as an indication of interest so that we can keep you informed of latest developments and opportunities.

Application forms and additional information can be found here.

Certificate Requirements

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

  • Humanities Studio

  • Elective in the College of Environmental Design

  • Elective in the College of Letters and Science (humanities emphasis)

Humanities Studio

The Humanities Studio is an interdisciplinary, project-based, community-engaged course in which students work closely with a community organization to research a neighborhood or a theme and to co-produce creative as well as documentary work telling often untold stories--always with an eye to the future. These specially designed courses focus on a different topic in each iteration and combine methods from the humanities, such as the study of literature, music, film, and performance, with methods from environmental design such as mapping, spatial analysis, and demographic analysis.  The classes produce public-facing products such as exhibitions, websites, short films, performances, or tours.  The hands-on, project-based pedagogy in these classes provides experience useful to graduate students interested in the public humanities or in broadening their pedagogical knowledge. The Humanities Studio is most often offered once a year in the Spring and also in the Summer. At least one graduate Humanities Studio is offered each year, and occasionally a limited number of graduate students may be included in the undergraduate Humanities Studios, where they will be expected to do graduate level work. Examples of Humanities Studios can be found here.

Elective Courses

The elective course requirement is intended to deepen your engagement with both the environmental design and the humanities disciplines. The best way to fulfill this requirement is to take a course in the HUM C132/ENVDES C132, HUM 132AC/ENVDES 132AC, or HUM133AC/ENVDES 133AC series, which are offered in the summer. (Please visit our course page for listings.) Other electives may be seen here. As many of the courses which fulfill the electives requirement are special topics courses that change by semester, all electives not listed above must be approved by petition. Note that quantitative social science courses will not fulfill the Letters & Science requirement; the emphasis is on courses in the Arts & Humanities Division. If you have questions, please contact susanmoffat@berkeley.edu.


Community Partnerships

If you would like to help build community partnerships, check out our Community Portal and contact susanmoffat@berkeley.edu.

Teaching Opportunities

Global Urban Humanities courses regularly hire graduate student instructors and researchers (GSIs and GSRs). Please contact susanmoffat@berkeley.edu for information.

Program Benefits

Intellectual Community

The Certificate in Urban Humanities provides a unique opportunity for making connections with students from across the campus with a shared interest in interdisciplinary approaches to studying urban life. 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.

Local and 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.
Research Profile

Teresa Caldeira, Professor. Comparative urban studies, urbanization in the global south, social theory, ethnography, qualitative methodology.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

Lauren Kroiz, Associate Professor. History and theory of photography and new media, race and ethnic studies, the relationships between regionalism, nationalism and globalism.
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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.
Research Profile

Susan Moffat, Project Director. Cities, mapping, storytelling, cartography, public space.
Research Profile

Greg Niemeyer, Associate Professor. Art, film studies, digital media installations, photography.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

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 .
Research Profile

Scott Andrew Saul, Professor. English, African American studies, 20th century American literature and culture, performance studies, jazz studies, histories of the avante-garde.
Research Profile

Susan Schweik, Professor. Disability studies, 20th-century poetry, literature and politics, war literature, feminist theory, cultural studies, English, American poetry.
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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.
Research Profile

Stephanie Syjuco, Assistant Professor. Visual art, installation, cultural objects, archives, social practice.
Research Profile

Bryan Wagner, Associate Professor. English, American Studies, African American studies, slavery, American South, black culture and history, music, ethnomusicology.
Research Profile

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.
Research Profile

Winnie Won Yin Wong, Associate Professor. Labor and creativity, modern and contemporary art, intellectual property, China studies, consumer cultures.
Research Profile


Juan Berumen, Lecturer. Ethnic studies, Chicanx studies, theater, education.

Catherin Elizabeth Covey, Lecturer. Architectural history, human environments, cultural resources studies, ideological landscapes.

Ghigo Di Tommaso, Lecturer. Landscape architecture, urban design, cities.

* Pablo Gonzalez, Lecturer. Ethnic Studies, Chicanx studies, anthropology, public art, creative pedagogy.

Lynne Horiuchi, Lecturer. Architectural history, race and place, Asian American history, community engagement.

Margaretta Lin, Lecturer. Social justice, public policy, race and place, law, public administration, advocacy.

Ivy Mills, Lecturer. Visual culture, literature, Africa, African diaspora, Senegal, Global South.
Research Profile

Susan Moffat, Lecturer. Cities, mapping, storytelling, cartography, public space.
Research Profile

Erika Chong Shuch, Lecturer. Interdisciplinary, performance, theater, dance, music, design, everyday life.
Research Profile

Raymond Telles, Lecturer. Documentary filmmaking, ethnic studies, Chicanx studies.

Emeritus Faculty

Michael James Dear, Professor Emeritus. Social theory, disability studies, urban theory, comparative urbanism.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Project Director

Susan Moffat

230 Wurster Hall #1820

Phone: 510-926-2771


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