Toronto and New York
Two Cities: New York and Toronto is the flagship course of the Urban Studies Program. For more than two decades it has been taught by Professors Pat McGuire (from the Economics Department) and Jim Spates (from the Sociology Department). In addition to the classroom sessions, readings, and films which focus on these premier cities, students embark on a mid-semester five-day trip to each city, during which the professors take the students everywhere you would expect and a lot of places you wouldn't. The trips are designed, in the context of daily tours shepherded by major figures in each city (former mayors, world-renowned urban specialists, guides at the top of their profession), to introduce New York and Toronto at "street-level". The trips aim to allow the students to meet as many inhabitants of each city as possible, ranging in race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religions, etc. The professors agree that a "hands-on" approach, is the best way for students to discover that cities are alive, accessible, changing, and moldable places, as well as to learn just how different two major urban centers can be. In other words, this is a course which studies two world cities from the perspective of different academic disciplines (sociology and economics) in varying cultural settings. In this regard, one of the great lessons students take from this course is an understanding of what it means to create and live in a city within an American cultural framework as compared to one in a Canadian cultural framework. Taken as a whole, the experience of "Two Cities" is intended to introduce students to the whole spectrum of courses in the Urban Studies Program.
The Two Cities course, taught by Professor of Sociology Jim Spates and Professor of Economics Pat McGuire, is featured in the New York Times "City Room" blog. New York Times reporter James Barron met Spates, McGuire and the students who accompanied them to New York last month to learn more about the program and the students' experiences.