Urban Studies at Santa Cruz

The Urban Studies Research Cluster formed in 2007 to enable faculty and graduate students to explore the urban dimension of their research, engage with emerging approaches in the field of urban studies, and address pressing urban issues, both locally and globally.  In particular, we engage with three sub-areas that draw on research strengths at UCSC: urban cultural studies, urban environmental studies, and space and social justice. The cluster also aims to provide a fruitful space for urbanists of all stripes —faculty and students, artists and activists, planners, policy makers, and local residents— to come together, share ideas, and collaborate.  We do this through monthly meetings, a speaker series, and campus-wide events. Read More


For the past year, the USRC has been directing a multi-campus research workgroup dedicated to the theme of “Critical Sustainabilities: Competing Discourses of Urban Development in Northern California” (funded by the California Studies Grant of UCHRI).  This project explores competing discourses of “urban sustainability” as they have evolved historically and cross-culturally, with a particular focus on Northern California.

In the face of economic and environmental crisis, and unprecedented rates of global urbanization, “sustainability” has become mainstream in urban policy circles. Northern California has been central in this, the terrain of what might be called a “sustainable urban imaginary.” Yet for all its power and ubiquity, “sustainability” remains a largely un-interrogated category. Our project analyzes Northern California’s role as historic inspiration, site of innovation, and contested space in the production of discourses of sustainability, with the goal of promoting critical engagement with the concept.


Critical Sustainabilities Multi-Campus Working Group 

Past Events