Trinity Should Bring Back Urban Studies Major

Christine C. Quinn, New York City's city council speaker and a leading contender to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2013, was well prepared for her life's work. She graduated from Trinity College in Hartford in 1988 with a degree in urban studies and education.

Some time afterward, Trinity dropped its urban studies major, but on Tuesday the faculty will vote on a proposal to reinstate it. If there is enough student interest and the teaching resources are available — and supporters say the answer to both questions is yes — then there is little downside to more bright young people learning the dynamics of cities.

How people live together, how we organize our lives, cultures and economies, has always been important; it may be more important in the age of globalization and climate change. The more intellectual candlepower that can be brought to bear on how cities and metropolitan regions work, the better.

Trinity can take advantage of its urban location to give students firsthand exposure to city, regional and state issues, and the chance to work with urbanologists at other state colleges to solve real-life problems. Hartford would benefit from their involvement; perhaps the next Christine Quinn will choose to live here.

It's an exciting time for U.S. cities as movements such as New Urbanism and transit-oriented development challenge the precepts of post-World War II planning. Trinity has scholars studying and writing about cites in its Center for Urban and Global Studies, and students who are designing their own urban studies majors. An urban affairs major seems like a logical next step.

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