1) Dear (2000) has proposed a theory of the social structure/social stratification of postmodern cities. How does he describe the structure of postmodern urban society? What are the primary social categories or strata he proposes? What are the characteristics of each group? How does the social structure he describes differ from conventional descriptions of modern era urban society? What are the implications of his model for social mobility and equity in postmodern cities?
2) Planners and politicians in core (“developed”) countries around the world are promoting policies associated with smart growth and New Urbanism. What are the central policies/goals of smart growth/New Urbanism? What urban problems or impacts are smart growth/New Urbanism policies intended to correct or reduce? How will cities evolve in the future if the policies/programs of smart growth/New Urbanism are effectively implemented?
3) Griffin and Ford (1996) developed a widely-cited model of Latin American city structure. While their model is regionally-specific, many of the essential elements are common to cities throughout the “developing” world (AKA periphery or semi-periphery). In what ways does urbanization in the developing countries, as depicted in this model, differ from the general patterns and processes of urbanization in the developed (core) countries? What problems or issues are depicted in the model that are uncommon in the cities of the developed realm?
4) A common theme in urban studies is the difficulty of developing strong urban theories due to the constantly evolving nature of cities and the changing processes of urbanization. Thinking about the future of cities, many urban scholars project the nature of cities will change dramatically due to a variety of identifiable “trends” and evolving forces. What are some of the technological, demographic, environmental, and political-economic “trends” that will presumably alter the nature of cities in the future? How might they presumably impact the form and function of cities in the next few decades?
5) The “vision” for cities reflected in urban planning in the United States tends to fluctuate along a continuum between two “ideals”: City Beautiful and City Efficient. Using metropolitan Los Angeles as an example, which vision seems to be most integral to American urbanization? Is Los Angeles closer to a “beautiful” or “efficient” ideal? Why? Provide examples of both in Los Angeles to support your argument.
6) The concept of the “triple bottom line” has its origins in the business, yet is frequently discussed in urban studies and urban planning. Why? What’s its relevance to urban studies and urban planning? How has the concept been integrated into the planning process? Into efforts to make cities more sustainable?
7) Denver, CO developed a planning format known as a “policy plan” that has become widely used in contemporary urban planning. What is the structure of a “policy plan”? What are the tiers or hierarchical elements in a conventional policy plan? Provide an example of each of the tiers within a policy plan in the context of a hypothetical plan for California’s high-speed rail system connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Diego.
8) In the face of global climate change and other environmental impacts, there is an international consensus that contemporary processes of urbanization are producing cities and urban systems that are not sustainable. What makes a city (or any system) “sustainable?” Why aren’t cities today sustainable? What can be done to make contemporary cities more “sustainable”? Do you think we will really act to make our cities more sustainable? Why/why not?