The Urban Studies Minor, a set of courses focusing on the life and significance of cities, provides students with a sound preparation for future careers in those government agencies, private sector firms, and non-profit organizations that address the issues and challenges of urban development, planning, and social service delivery in both the developed and developing world. Since it was established in the 1970s, Wheaton’s urban studies minor has entailed an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Economics, Political Science, Sociology and – more recently -- the Anthropology and Psychology departments. The minor was revised in 2013, to update its content, and to make it more focused on particular sets of skills, while also encouraging students to explore the many different ways in which urban life and culture is studied by a variety of disciplines.
First, the minor requires all students to establish a firm foundation in the study of urban economics because of the central importance of economic processes and issues in the development -- and regulation -- of social and cultural relationships in urban life.
Second, students will be expected to explore how one of the social sciences has examined the structures and processes of urban life. Currently, three departments – other than economics -- offer such courses: Anthropology, Political Science and Sociology. Other departments may do so in the future.
Third, the urban studies minor requires students to take a course in social science research methods, as they are currently offered either in Political Science, Sociology, or Anthropology
Fourth, students will be required to take a course in experiential learning that involves either an agency placement or conducting fieldwork in an urban setting. Currently, both Sociology and Psychology offer alternate ways of satisfying this requirement.
Finally, students will be required to take an elective from a selection of courses in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities that explore various aspects of urban policy, research methodology, and the social life, culture, design, and environment of cities. These courses must either have a primary focus on urban life, or involve an issue orientation or methodology with a clear and substantial application to the study of contemporary urban affairs.