America’s Suburban Landscape
Why has America consistently pursued a pro-suburban development policy and what are the consequences of this societal preference? Scholars from such diverse fields as economics, environmental studies, demography, sociology, engineering, government, and ethnography regularly wrestle with these critical questions, and they will drive our work throughout the semester. Of particular interest to our class is the impact that suburban bias has had on America’s transportation systems, popular culture, housing supply, economic balance, and environmental health. We will examine its effects upon families and children, aesthetics, local economies and communities, nearby core cities, and issues of race, class, and gender. The course will trace the history of American suburbs, with a particular focus on the development of laws and policies dedicated to outward growth. Students will observe land-use policies in Canton, present a problem-based group memo on a metropolitan development issue, use GIS to calculate the individual costs and benefits associated with different land-use decisions, and conduct a semester-length, process-based research project on a pressing suburban question.