Cities are imagined as places of opportunity, but for some urban dwellers instead of opportunity they experience failed policies, broken promises and generational poverty. This seminar course explores the experiences of city dwellers and asks the question: What policies and practices maximize socioeconomic opportunities for all urban residents? The course will cover a diverse array of case studies including: DuBois’ account of Black life in 19th century Philadelphia, quantitative examinations of educational attainment in Nairobi’s Kibera—the largest informal settlement in contemporary Africa, and ethnographic studies of Shanghai’s migrants who lack hukou (legal documentation) and thus live in underground settlements. Students will explore the ramifications of various city policies and explore of how cities can strive to be places of promise and possibility for all. Additionally, students will be asked to go beyond the walls of the classroom to explore the poverty, possibilities and promises in the city around them.

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