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Why Choose Urban Studies and Community Development?

Photo of Chicago

A majority of people now live in cities and over 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban regions. Cites are hubs of employment and hotbeds of innovation. They showcase economic progress as well as social inequalities. Like living museums, cities explain how traffic and asphalt influence human behavior and how global forces shape our local communities. Global environmental sustainability and social justice today require skilled urban analysts and planners, making Urban Studies the Career of the Future.

Its and urban world after all infographic

We believe in healthy and sustainable cities where commerce and democracy thrive. The 120-credit degree uses a booming mid-sized city to illustrate metropolitan trends. Students receive a strong set of course skills and then tailor their major by selecting from a menu of coursework in social science, humanities, business, and community health. Workshops hone skills and extend the classroom to real world problem solving. Internships connect students with employers, grounding the study of cities in professional development and problem solving in urban public service. Our program’s graduates are coveted by diverse employers in the private and public sectors.

The Past, Present and Future of Cities: Urban Studies at Boise State

From Interim Dean Andrew Giacomazzi

Boise is growing up. For better or worse, the home of Boise State University is experiencing both the challenges and opportunities that come with rapid growth. Our Urban Studies and Community Development program trains students to explore the past, present, and future of cities, their politics, economics, environmental and cultural trends. We’re training our Urban Studies students to serve the public interest as problem-solving urban analysts and citizens.

Watch Interim Dean Andrew Giacomazzi’s Welcome Video
Dr. Krista Paulsen

Faculty Spotlight

“Everybody lives somewhere. Everybody has to live somewhere”

“I’m very interested in issues surrounding housing and home,” said new Boise State Urban Studies and Community Development professor Dr. Krista Paulsen. “A lot of my work is about the intersection between culture and place.”

This Fall, the School of Public Service welcomed Krista Paulsen to our Urban Studies and Community Development program. Dr. Paulsen is well-respected in her field and is co-author of influential articles Making Character Concrete: Empirical Strategies for Studying Place Distinction (City & Community) and History Repeats Itself, But How?: City Character, Urban Tradition, and the Accomplishment of Place (American Sociological Review). She is also co-author of the books Introduction to Cities: How Place and Space Shape Human Experience and Home: International Perspectives on Culture, Identity and Belonging.

Her interest in housing, home, culture and place will be evident in a course she has designed for Spring 2020. “Housing and Home” will help students think critically around issues of how we provide housing to people, how ideas of home shape housing choices, how housing is connected to family, social class, and economy. The class incorporates a service-learning element.

Paulsen also teaches a graduate level course. “Advanced Qualitative Methods and Analysis” expands students’ research toolkits by teaching them to incorporate visual elements into their research, collect and analyze digital data, and confirm findings using multiple methods.

Urban Studies and Community Development is an important field of study, said Paulsen, for professions besides professional urban analysts. Urban Studies graduates work in fields as diverse as city and county government, non-profits and real estate. And the critical thinking skills they learn help them become better citizens in whatever profession they choose.  “Not everyone winds up working in their major field,” said Paulsen. “But everyone lives somewhere. Everyone has to live somewhere.”

Boise, despite its relatively low population, is a good location for Paulsen’s research. “When people hear about urban sociologists, they think about urban as in big cities and big city types of social problems,” said Paulsen. “But that’s not really the focus of my work.  A lot of my work is on small and mid-size cities and also on neighborhoods and suburbs.”

When asked her thoughts on Boise as her new home, Paulsen noted the “outrageous” natural beauty of the area. “Boise is awesome,” she said.