The Boise State School of Public Service’s new Urban Studies and Community Development Program will be a great source of new discussions about the way we operate in a world that is largely urban. While Boise State offers a variety of classes where discussions like these are held, the implementation of the Urban Studies and Community Development program will help offer a new perspective that shifts the focus towards how these conversations can be applied to the way we understand how urban environments operate on multiple levels.
Many of the other univerisites with Urban Studies programs are located in largely urban areas or major cities, such as San Francisco State, Columbia, University of Utah and University of Pennsylvania to name a few. While the City of Boise is not as populated as the cities in which these schools are located, that does not mean that an Urban Studies program at Boise State will not be as successful. This is all the more reason why Boise State needs a program like this. This program has the potential to attract a variety of students from all disciplines and create new ideas that will help with understanding and improving Boise as an urban environment.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of Boise was 214,237 as of 2013. As the most metropolitan area in Idaho, Boise is a growing urban community. In comparison to larger cities, such as Los Angeles—which has a population of roughly 4 million—it will be interesting to see how this program approaches Boise’s sprouting urban culture.
Introducing Urban Studies and Community Development as a program, rather than just a class or two, will be great for Boise State. As the City of Boise, and its culture, continues to change, this program is a necessity that will complement these changes. Even though this program is offered through the School of Public Service, it will be beneficial that the program is going to offer courses that are interdisciplinary across majors like the Social Sciences—such as Criminal Justice, Political Science, Sociology or Psychology—and even Environmental and Economic Studies as well. It seems impossible to discuss Urban Studies in depth without the input of these disciplines because they offer a unique lens that will help in the way in which we understand urban environments.
For example, offering an interdisciplinary course with Sociology and Environmental Studies would be an interesting class. A class like this could cover the way in which humans engage with an urban environment. Discussions of environmental justice and access to resources in cities or even sustaining a healthy environment would be great conversations to apply to the City of Boise. Even discussing the impact urban areas have on the world— whether it is economically, environmentally or socially— would be a great conversation for students at Boise State to engage in. It will prepare them to be well-informed and benefical contributors to existing and growing urban communities.
The Urban Studies and Community Development courses are something that all students—regardless of their academic year—should have the opportunity to take. Currently, Boise State offers an introductory foundational course titled “Cities of Tomorrow” that covers the with the evolving nature of urban environments. Courses like these provide students with the ability to choose if they want to take an Urban Studies class without forcing it into their degree track. It would also show that taking these classes are strongly encouraged and the subject material is universal across all disciplines and majors.