Course: Walking the City

HC 444H/431H

Professor: Ocean Howell

Graduation Requirement:  This class will fulfill a Social Science Colloquium and an American Cultures (AC) Multicultural class.  If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements:  an Elective Colloquium and an AC Multicultural class.

The best way to learn about the history and future of the American city is to walk it. This course teaches students how to read the city itself as a source. The course revolves around a series of walking tours in the Eugene/Springfield metropolitan area, and ideally two trips to Portland. Students will learn to research the history of the built environment using planning documents, architectural plans, fire insurance maps, satellite data, census data, historical photographs and maps, and various kinds of ephemera. They will also be trained to reconcile the historical record with the physical fact of the city as it stands today, and so to recognize tends in future development. Students will learn not only about the history of architecture and urban planning, but also about governmental and political structure, race and ethnicity, gender roles, the history of business and industry, the history of technology, and more. This course will not only teach students to think like urban historians, planners, and cultural geographers, but will also serve to engage them more fully in the community in which they live. Student projects will be based on deep research on an urban site of their choice.