Urban Studies

Group of students talking at a table in Bryant Park

Program of Study

Taught by experienced, dynamic faculty, the Urban Studies Program offers an intellectually rigorous foundation in the disciplines that focus on contemporary city life, urban culture, and urbanization, with emphasis on equality, diversity, inclusion, environmental sustainability and social justice. Through the lenses of history and literature, sociology and anthropology, political science and economics, psychology and environmental science, students explore the foundations, structures, and character of cities while considering their future development. The theoretical frameworks, conceptual tools, and research methods the Program instills provide a solid background for careers in urban policy, government, law, civil/public service and administration, real estate, journalism, community organizing, and regional or urban planning.

Using New York City as its laboratory, the Program guides students in navigating urban systems such as housing, transportation, health care, and education. As they investigate municipal structures and local communities, students develop analytical and practical skills and perspectives on urban development. Moreover, Urban Studies majors perform fieldwork in urban communities and the organizations serving them first-hand, allowing students to preview socially and environmentally relevant careers they can pursue upon transfer to a baccalaureate program.

Urban Studies is integral in the contemporary global context. By applying interdisciplinary analysis and research skills to the long-term vision of social change, economic development, and environmental sustainability, students learn to view cities as living organisms that have wide-ranging impacts not only on urban residents, but also the population of the world and international markets, movements, and trends. This broad perspective informs the deep, nuanced understanding of modern cities and strategic, critical thinking that Urban Studies graduates carry into further higher education and both public and private sector professions.


The Urban Studies Program empowers students to explore and understand the government, economics, services, and lived experiences of urban communities. Working individually and in teams, students engage with interdisciplinary concepts and practices of urban planning, social research, social justice, and the built environment. Students gain and create knowledge about how cities work so they can improve them.

To promote career readiness within the curriculum, the Program implements course design and experiences that promote and incorporate the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) Career Competencies:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Oral/Written Communication
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Digital Technology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic
  • Career Management
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the Urban Studies program, students will be able to:

  • Connect everyday urban experiences to theoretical perspectives/frameworks/lenses and research about cities;
  • Conduct quantitative, qualitative, and secondary source research to investigate urban problems using various sources (e.g. planning documents, maps, census data, journals, magazines, newspapers, textbooks, photography, interviews, surveys);
  • Identify significant occurrences in urban history and explain their relevance to modern cities;
  • Analyze how political structures, policy development, and governance processes operate in cities;
  • Evaluate how multiple stakeholders (individuals/communities/institutions/government agencies) are affected by a particular issue and understand their perspectives; and
  • Examine, analyze, and engage the interdependence of critical urban social, economic, and environmental issues, with an emphasis on urban social justice.

Urban Studies News

June 7, 2023

City College of New York and Guttman Community College Partnership Creates Streamlined Pathway to Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies

New York, N.Y. (June 6, 2023) – An articulation agreement signing was held on Monday, May 22 to formalize a partnership between Stella and Charles Guttman Community College and City College of New York (CCNY) of The City University of New York. Articulation agreements between the two colleges facility ate timely college completion through efficient […]

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March 15, 2023

Guttman Community College Introduces Two New Information Technology Tracks in Cybersecurity and Networking 

New York, N.Y. (March 15, 2023) – The New York State Education Department approved two new tracks within the Information Technology (IT) programs of study at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College: Information Technology, A.A.S –Cybersecurity and Networking tracks. The two new tracks will enable students to tailor their education to specific interests and learn […]

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January 11, 2022

Dr. Molly Makris Co-Publishes Paper on Education during the Pandemic

Guttman’s own Dr. Molly Makris, along with Dr. Elise Castillo and Dr. Mira Debs have published Integration Versus Meritocracy? Competing Educational Goals During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This paper comes to fruition because of the Spencer Grant which supports research in an effort to improve education. 

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May 5, 2021

Dr. Alia Tyner Co-Authors Article Examining Project-Based Assessment in NYC Public Schools

The article “Reframing School Culture Through Project-Based Assessment Tasks: Cultivating Transformative Agency and Humanizing Practices in NYC Public Schools,” co-authored by Guttman Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Alia Tyner-Mullings with Drs. Maria Hantzopoulos and Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen, has been published in the Teachers College Record. Building on the argument that high-stakes testing policies are ineffective and “have exacerbated inequities in schooling across racial, economic, geographic, and linguistic lines,” the researchers focus on the transition to Project Based Assessment Tasks (PBAT) at ten New York City public high schools that are part of the New York Performance Standards Consortium. The authors, who “specifically consider[] the role that PBATs might play in shaping school culture,” have found them “a useful tool to engage students and teachers more actively as participatory actors in the school environment, particularly when overall school structures collectively support its integration.”

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April 8, 2021

Guttman’s Dr. Kristina Baines Organizes and Co-Hosts Anthropology Webinar Addressing Contemporary Issues

With Co-Founder and Co-Director of Cool Anthropology Victoria Costa, Guttman Faculty Dr. Kristina Baines organized and co-hosted the interactive virtual event Anthropology and the Public: Pressing Questions, Responsibilities and Opportunities, which aired live on YouTube on March 1, 2021. The webinar brought together a wide network of anthropologists, social scientists, educators, students, and practitioners of various fields to exchange and elaborate critical, multidisciplinary ideas that contribute to the public good. Featuring panelists and breakout sessions to address an array of contemporary social and environmental issues, the gathering included discussions concerning public health, medical anthropology, climate change and environmental justice, race and racism, media, journalism, technology, and art. The workshop included student facilitators from 5 continents, over 300 registrants, 150 active participants, including Guttman alumna, former Peer Mentor, and College Assistant Hannia Delgado and former Guttman staff member Baird Campbell. The event was funded through a grant by the Wenner Gren Foundation and co-sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Division and Berghan Books.

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April 8, 2021

Guttman Faculty Drs. Makris and Gatta Publish Op-Eds on “Equitable and Just” Recovery for US Cities and Towns

Following the publication of their book, Gentrification Down The Shore, Guttman Urban Studies faculty Dr. Molly Vollman Makris and Dr. Mary Gatta released op-eds in The Progressive and ArcaMax, Politics section, on February 12, 2021. Based on research the co-authors conducted on Asbury Park, New Jersey, both articles respond to the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan for economic recovery during the ongoing pandemic. In “Rescue Our Cities and Towns” and “Commentary: Rescue our cities and towns,” the co-authors emphasize “long-term progressive planning… that means a continued focus on economic security for working families, fully funded public education, universal health care, and environmental and racial justice measures.” By calling for an “equitable and just” policy direction, Drs. Makris and Gatta assert that cities and towns throughout the United States “will need sustained support from the federal government to survive and thrive in a COVID-19 world.”

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March 25, 2021

Urban Studies Program Coordinator Receives Spencer Foundation Grant for Research with Parent and Youth Activists in New York City

With Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Mira Debs (Yale University) and Dr. Elise Castillo (Trinity College), Guttman’s Dr. Molly Vollman Makris was awarded a Spencer Foundation COVID-19 Related Research Grant. Their proposal, “New York City School Integration Activists during covid-19,” was one of only 20 to be funded, out of a competitive pool of 1,369 “education research projects that would contribute to understanding the rapid shifts in education in relation to COVID-19.” The team’s research with parent and youth activists in New York City, beginning during the summer of 2020, has potential impacts on policy that are urgent in the context of the “twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.” Along with its “anti-deficit orientation,” the study also met the criterion of “aim[ing] to understand and disrupt the reproduction and deepening of educational inequality caused by the COVID-19 crisis.” In Dr. Makris’ important work, which resonates with Guttman’s institutional dedication to equity, the Spencer Foundation “recognized that in times of great disruption and change, there are opportunities to remake and imagine new forms of equitable education.”

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March 22, 2021

Dr. Kristina Baines and Guttman Students Participate in Pandemic Journaling Project and Featured in The New York Times

In the Introduction to Urban Community Health courses she taught during the Spring II and Fall I 2020 semesters, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dr. Kristina  Baines’ students interacted with the Pandemic Journaling Project (PJP) – a public research initiative developed at the University of Connecticut, which invites participants to respond to weekly prompts about their experiences living through the pandemic. Students could either create journal entries (written, audio or visual methods) or reflect on the journal entries that others posted on the public section of the site. The aim of Dr. Baines’ assignment is to involve students in documenting the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of everyday people rather than official narratives. In their responses, students were able to consider their contributions to this alternative history on personal and scholarly levels. Overall, Dr. Baines’ students have welcomed this space to share their thoughts and feelings about the impact of the pandemic on their lives.

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March 12, 2021

Guttman Political Science Faculty Featured Guest on Dr. Johanna Fernandez’s A New Day

On the historic date of January 6, 2021, Instructor of Political Science Prof. Douglas Medina was the invited guest on A New Day, a radio broadcast hosted on WBAI 99.5FM by Dr. Johanna Fernandez, author of The Young Lords: A Radical History and Associate Professor of History at Baruch College, CUNY. In the midst of the worst stage of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, the scholars discussed the US response to the coronavirus; the socioeconomic effects on workers and communities of color; the latest in workers’ rights movements; and most prominently, that morning’s dramatic results of the Georgia run-off election and the certification of the 2020 presidential election by Congress.

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February 18, 2021

Guttman UMOC Students and Faculty Contribute to Social Justice Work in New Jersey

Along with Guttman students and United Men of Color (UMOC) members Miguel Tejeda and Amari Dawkins, Urban Studies faculty Dr. Marcus Allen and Dr. Mary Gatta were selected as an evaluation team to review the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s Youth Justice Toolkit: A Community-Led Restorative Justice Approach. They spent July 2020 connected virtually, evaluating materials, collaborating with NJISJ staff, and writing a comprehensive review with recommendations, which was incorporated into the final toolkit. The resulting compilation of resources and practices is designed to inform restorative justice hubs throughout New Jersey on how “to remove young people from an unhealthy prison environment and successfully reintegrate them into their communities.” It will also prompt “communities to create community-based public safety systems that divert young people away from the criminal justice system in the first place, based on restorative and transformative justice practices and a trauma-informed approach​.”

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