Citing ideological differences, Urban Studies has decided to withdraw its preliminary proposal to become Yale’s first “correlated program,” leaving the fledgling initiative without a prototype.
As the first candidate for this project, Urban Studies was supposed to serve as the model for future correlated programs, which will allow undergraduates to pursue a second course of study in certain interdisciplinary areas.
But the Urban Studies committee, which supervises an unofficial course of study of urban issues, withdrew its proposal in mid-January.
“At first, it looked like [correlated programs] might be quite a good fit,” said architecture professor Alan Plattus, a core member of the committee on Urban Studies. “But as time went on, it looked less and less promising. It just wasn’t a good fit between what we wanted to do and what they wanted correlated programs to do.”
Plattus and EB Kelly ’03, a member of the Committee on Majors, both said the split was a “mutual agreement” between the two parties.
One of the primary reasons for the proposal’s withdrawal was the fact that only a few members of the Urban Studies committee are members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, said John Hartigan, statistics professor and chair of the Committee on Majors.
Hartigan added that a stronger affiliation with the FAS was necessary because Urban Studies was planning to work extensively with FAS departments such as History, American Studies and Sociology.
Another difference arose in the curriculum proposed by the Urban Studies committee. Cynthia Farrar, director of the Urban Academic Initiatives Office and a core member of the Urban Studies committee, said the Committee on Majors wanted a comprehensive curriculum that included the study of ancient and modern cities as well as foreign and domestic cities. Currently, Urban Studies focuses primarily on 19th and 20th century cities in North America.
“It seemed like there were too many requirements on us,” Farrar said. “And we’re not in a position to meet those requirements right now, given the available resources and personnel.”
Plattus said because Urban Studies lacks the necessary resources to institute a more inclusive curriculum, the program would rather focus more on modern American cities.
“While we think it’s important to be as broad as possible, we can’t just pretend we’re going to cover everything,” Plattus said. “If we do that, we’ll just end up disappointing people.”
Urban Studies plans to continue its quest to become a more formal entity at Yale, Farrar said.
Currently, the committee is trying to forge stronger relationships with prominent departments such as Sociology, Economics and History. In addition, preliminary discussions are taking place between the committee and the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.
“We’re hoping some of the funds and resources from the Globalization Center can push the Urban Studies program,” said Deborah Davis, the center’s director of academic programs. “We want to help put things in a global context.”
Shayna Strom ’02, a member of the Urban Studies committee, said she would like to see a more streamlined avenue of study for undergraduates.
“It would be wonderful if there were a program that allowed people to pursue Urban Studies in a more well-conceived way,” Strom said. “Right now, we’re just doing it in a haphazard way.”
Hartigan said he hopes to find a new candidate for correlated programs and present a proposal to the Yale faculty by the end of the semester.
“Essentially, we need a model program to present to the faculty,” Hartigan said. “If we don’t have the ammunition, we can’t fire the gun.”