Spring 2001

UNST 299: Dynamics of the American City

Last Updated May 13, 2001

Dr. Martha J. Bianco
Web Page:
URBN 370-L (located on the third floor of the Urban Center Building, 506 SW Mill)
URBN 370-A
Office Hours:
Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30-10:30 a.m.and by arrangement
Class Time:
M and W, 8-9:15 a.m.
URBN 303, in the distance learning center of the Urban Center Building on 5th and Mill
Monique Sutton, suttonm@irn.pdx.eduMailbox at 166 CH
Mentored Sessions:
M, 9:20-10:10; W, 9:20-10:10; W, 10:15-11:05.  All mentor sessions will be in URBN 240
Course Description:
This course looks at some of the dynamics of the American city through the lens of several different academic disciplines. We focus on the following:
  • What is a city? The fields of history and sociology help inform our investigation. 
  • The rich just keep getting richer. The fields of history, sociology, political science, and economics contribute to our study. 
  • Community, identity, and space. Sociology, political science, urban planning, gender studies, and social justice inform our discussions. 
  • Visions of ideal form. History and urban planning help us understand where we?ve been and where we might want to go. 
City Lights: Urban-Suburban Life in a Global Society by E. Barbara Phillips and Katherine Phillips (Oxford University Press, 1996).
Lecture Guides:
Lecture guides, which provide an outline of each class lecture and WWW links to relevant sites can be found at cityguides.htmlNOTE: These will not be handed out in class (except for the first day), so you are responsible for printing these out and bringing them to class.
Learning Goals:
This course places a special emphasis on the following skills:
  • Writing 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Online and library research 
  • Ethics in research 
  • Teamwork 
  • Oral and Written Presentations
Detailed instructions for each assignment will be presented in mentor sessions.
  • Using On-Line and Library Data Sources. Worth 50 points. 
  • Module S.E.C.R.E.T.s: Write four 2- to 3-page SECRETs (Synthesize-Explain-Critique-Reflect-Expand-Theorize) for each module.  Worth 150 points each (total of 600).
  • Field Research ProjectConduct a field study of a Portland neighborhood and write up your findings. Worth 200 points.
  • Film Reflections: Write four 1- to 2-page film reflections regarding the films shown in mentor session.  Worth 38 points each (total of 150).

Other Requirements:
The following are the expectations for this class:
  • All assignments must be turned in on time unless there are emergency circumstances 
  • You must actively participate in class and group projects 
  • You must subscribe to the class electronic discussion listserv (set up at first mentor session) 
  • You should try to stay in contact with the instructor to discuss any concerns related to this class

Cell Phones and Pagers:

The use of cell phones and pagers in class is very disruptive. Please set your phones and pagers to "silent." If you place your phone/pager on your desk in front of you, it will light up if you receive a call or page. You can then return the call if the matter is an emergency.

About Attendance:
  • Attendance is expected in each class and mentor session. 
  • Unless you make prior arrangements with the instructor or mentor, please refrain from arriving late or leaving early, as these behaviors are disruptive to some students. 

About Plagiarism:

Portland State University defines plagiarism, a form of academic dishonesty, as:
The appropriate of language, ideas, and products of another author or artist and representation of them as one's own original work; failure to provide proper identification of source data; use of purchased or borrowed papers in graduate courses [as well as undergraduate] without complete identification of the source.
This definition is not always clearly understandable to all students.  Please read Earl Babbie's comments at http://www.csubak.edu/ssric/Modules/Other/plagiarism.htm.  Also read the University of Alabama at Huntsville, "Library Research Guides: Plagiarism," at http://www.uah.edu/library/guides/plag.html.

If you are unsure whether you are committing plagiarism, please ask me.  If I suspect you have plagiarized, I will ask to meet with you.  A student who has been found to have committed plagiarism is subject to the following sanctions:

  1. F on exam or assignment involved
  2. Disciplinary reprimand
  3. Disciplinary probation
  4. Loss of privileges
  5. Required community service
  6. Suspension from PSU for up to two years
  7. Dismissal from the University

All students in this class are expected to write at university-level standards. These include the following:
  • Proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.  
    • See "Helpful Links" below 
    • Use your word processor?s grammar and spell-check 
    • Proofread! (Do not rely solely on your word processor to find errors!) 
  • Proper citation format. You may use APA, Chicago, MLA, or any other university-accepted format. Note: 
    • You may use footnotes and a bibliography or parenthetical references and a reference list. 
    • If you use footnotes or parentheticals, you must include a bibliography or reference list at the end, even if it contains just one entry. 
    • You must use proper citation format for all Internet sources, including web sites and electronic mail. See "Helpful Links" below. 
  • Legible paper presentation: 
    • Use 12-point font 
    • Use one-inch margins on all sides 
    • Double-space all papers. 
    • Always include page numbers. 
  • For writing assistance, consult with the class mentor or visit the Writing Center at writingcenter@pdx.edu or by phone at 725-3570. They are located in CH 188F.
  • Always use the Writing Checklist, at checklist.htm

Helpful Links:
Elements of Style:  http://www.bartleby.com/141/index.html
Study Guides and Strategies:  http://www.iss.stthomas.edu/studyguides/
Guides to Historical Research:  http://www.lib.washington.edu/subject/History/tm/guide.html
A Student's Guide to Research with the WWW http://www.slu.edu/departments/english/research/
Preparing to Write a Research Paper: http://www.tntech.edu/www/acad/hist/library.html
Citation of Electronic Documents:  http://www.tntech.edu/www/acad/hist/citation.html
Chicago Documentation Style:  http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/DocChicago.html

Class Schedule

Topic and Due Dates
April 2-April 16
What is a city?
  • Concepts of the City in Time and Space
  • Classifying Cities
  • Varieties of Cities

Chapters 1-2, 4
April 9-11
Using On-line Data Source Exercises Due via E-mail by This Week
April 18
S.E.C.R.E.T. for Module No. 1 Due in Class
April 18-30


The Rich Just Keep Getting Richer
  • From Preindustrial to Postindustrial Economies 
  • Immigration and Migration  
  • From Rustbelt to Sunbelt 
  • Theories about Urban Poverty 

Chapters 6, 8, 10, 
May 7
S.E.C.R.E.T. for Module No. 2 Due in Class
May 9
The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces film reflection due in class
Field Observation must be completed prior to this date


May 2-May 17


    Community, Identity, and Space
    • What is community? 
    • Identity and Oppression? 
    • Space: Claiming it, taking it, denying it. 
Chapters 5, 7, 9, 11
May 14-16
Roger & Me film reflection due in mentor session
May 21-June 6
(no class Mon., May 28)
Visions of Ideal Form
  • Utopian Visions of Urban Form
  • The Power behind Translating Vision to Public Policy
  • From Streetcar Suburbia to Postsuburbia
  • Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?
Chapters 12, 14-16
May 23
S.E.C.R.E.T. for Module No. 3 Due in Class
May 30
Field Study Report Due in Class
June 4
Before Stonewall film reflection due IN CLASS
June 11
Final S.E.C.R.E.T. due at a secret location, to be revealed, at 8 a.m.

Mentor Sessions
Week of:
April 2-4
April 9-11
April 16-18
  • Films clips: Metropolis, Blade Runner
April 23-25
  • Film: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
April 30-May 2
  • First Field Observation Meeting
May 7-May 9
  • Film clip:  Roger & Me
May 14-16
  • Second Field Observation
May 21-23
  • Film: Before Stonewall
May 28-30
  • No mentor sessions this week (Memorial Day on Monday, May 28)
June 4-6
  • Film: Road to the Future

Return to Class Welcome Page.