Cities are built on the surface of planet Earth, and the Earth is neither homogeneous nor static. The physical location of a city plays an important role in how the city has developed, the experience of living in the city, and the future of the city. As the devastation and disruption in New Orleans and Port-Au-Prince have so clearly shown, the economic, social and physical well-being of a city and the surrounding metropolitan area depends not only upon what is built by humans above the surface of the Earth, but also by natural processes occurring on and below the surface.
The goal of this connection is to give students insight into the dynamic interaction between the built environment and the natural environment. Students who take this connection will be prepared to more wisely take on future roles as government policy makers, civically engaged scientists, urban planners, and informed citizens.The connection will give students an interdisciplinary understanding of important issues involving use of natural resources, urban economic activities, and the often hidden infrastructure upon which cities depend.
In ECON 252, students will gain a rich perspective on the economic factors determining the creation, growth, and prosperity of cities; the role of local governments in the provision of necessary goods and services; the historical emergence of physical and social infrastructure; and the theories and concepts that determine various uses of land within a metropolitan area.
In PHYS 160, students will encounter the limits of water and energy infrastructure; physical barriers to urban growth; the substrate upon which cities are built; and natural disaster risk, preparedness and mitigation.