Psychology, Policy, and Lives of the Global Urban Experience


It is estimated that 60% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2030, making it critical that we learn how to improve or create appropriate housing and public spaces for the rising number of urban dwellers—most of whom live in poverty. What does this have to do with psychology? We will explore how it can inform a domain usually reserved for planners, designers, and policymakers. Based on the notion that individual lives can speak to the human experience, this course utilizes a narrative psychology approach to examine the global urban experience. We will cover themes about living in cities, their development, and other processes of transformation. We will examine how people experience these issues through the meanings and values that people communicate through stories in urban settings, which can be used to inform policy. Our attention will focus on people living in cities of the Global South, with a particular focus on Latin America. Readings and other media are culled from psychology, other social sciences, as well as humanities to provide a brief overview of the contemporary urban landscape and then focus on lives in varying urban contexts. Students will engage in a collective biographical data-analysis project, the goal of which is to generate urban policy recommendations, in addition to conference work that will cover related topics and research methodologies.