Collaborative Graduate Seminar: “Researching Cities”


UBC/UCLA seminar participants meet at the White Mountain research station (photo credit: Idaliya Grigoryeva)

This past term, graduate students from UBC and UCLA were involved in an experimental seminar, “Researching cities,” coordinated by Jamie Peck and by Helga Leitner and Eric Sheppard at UCLA. The UBC and UCLA seminar groups connected each week by way of a video conference link, usually for around two hours, ably facilitated at the UBC end by Bret Petersen (and by a small army of technicians at UCLA!). The joint work of the two groups during the term included the discussion of readings from a shared syllabus; the presentation of a series of “keywords” from the field of urban studies; and preparations for term papers based on the methodological deconstruction and constructive critique of significant monographs in the field, some of which were to be written collaboratively.

The joint seminar culminated in a workshop at the University of California’s White Mountain research station, near Bishop, CA, at the base of the Sierra Nevadas. The accommodations may have been a little Spartan for some metropolitan tastes, but the welcome from the research station staff was extremely warm, and the mountain setting was truly spectacular. Alas, there was relatively little time to take all of this in, as a busy three-day work program included the presentation of methodological essays from each of the participants, along with comments from peer discussants. Plans were also laid for an edited book project, provisionally entitled Urban Studies Inside/Out, based on the collective work of the group.

UBC-based graduate students involved in the seminar were geographers Joe Daniels, Nina Ebner, Ida Grigoryeva, Tom Howard, Kyle Loewen, Mikael Omstedt, and Sage Ponder, Prajna Rao from SCARP, Devra Waldman from Kinesiology, and a visiting graduate student in urban planning from UCL, Joe Penny. The 14 graduate students from UCLA included geographers, anthropologists, and urban planners. Should the effort to obtain a book contract prove successful, the collaborative work of the two seminar groups will extend well into next year.


Tom Howard acquires transferrable skills (photo credit: Jamie Peck)

Recap by Professor Jamie Peck