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GGRA03H3 (139)
Lecture 2

Lecture 2 Summary notesLecture 1 Summary.pdf

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Andre Sorensen

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  5  Main  Themes/Conceptual  Frameworks  of  GGRA03     This   lecture,   apart   from   introducing   the   assignments,   focused   on   5   main   conceptual  frameworks  that  are  introduced  in  the  course:   1.  Cities  as  the  Human  Environment     The  City  //  Nature  dualism  is  mistaken,  and  the  term  ‘environment’  does  not  equal   'nature'  or  'wilderness’.  The  environment  and  nature  include  cities  and  people.       Modernist  ideas  that  equated  progress  with  technology  and  'overcoming  nature',  by   creating  well-­‐built  urban  systems  have  had  powerful  and  lasting  impacts  on  our   society.  Recently,  ideas  are  changing.  Now  cities  are  increasingly  seen  as  complex   ecological  systems,  in  which  economic,  social,  natural,  and  political  systems  interact.     Cities  in  this  view  are  the  most  complex  and  lasting  creations  of  human  civilization  -­‐   they  are  the  fundamental  human  ecosystem.     A  major  goal  of  this  course  is  to  learn  to  understand  cities  as  human  environments:   What  can  we  learn  about  our  societies  from  changing  urban  ecosystems,   environmental  ideas,  urban  policies  and  urban  patterns?   How  have  ideas  about  'good'  and  'bad'  (utopian  and  dystopian)  urban  environments   changed  over  recent  centuries?   How  have  such  ideas  shaped  policy  and  action  and  urban  development?   More  on  this  in  Lectures  2,  3  and  4   2.  Why  History  is  Important   a. Understanding  long-­term  patterns   Urban  systems  are  rapidly  growing  more  complex,  but  most  contemporary   urban  systems,  structures,  infrastructures,  are  built  incrementally  on  prior   systems.   Urban  change  is  gradual  and  incremental.  To  understand  how  things  work,  and   how  they  change  -­‐  or  fail  to  change  -­‐  it  is  important  to  understand  the  historical   moments  when  major  urban  institutions  and  codes,  policies,  rules  were   developed.   b. Cities  are  path-­dependent,  displaying  enormous  continuity  over  time.   A  key  method  for  understanding  cities  is  to  study  urban  history  and  urban   changes  through  the  historical  analysis  of  urban  form,  growth,  and  development   over  time   c. Analysis  of  how  cities  change  over  time  is  a  powerful  tool  for   understanding  both  cities,  and  the  civilizations  that  give  rise  to  them   Why  do  cities  change?  What  are  the  mechanisms  of  change?   What  aspects  of  cities  resist  change?   Why  are  some  aspects  of  change  easier  than  others?   3.  Reading  Cities  as  Text,  City  Codes   a.  How  can  we  READ  cities  as  texts?  What  is  the  language  that  cities  speak?   What  does  it  mean  to  say  that  cities  are  a  text  that  can  be  read?   This  must  be  a  foreign  language?  How  to  learn  it?   As  the  setting  of  everyday  life,  cities  appear  to  embody  normal  patterns  that  just  are   the  way  things  work.  We  are  continually  immersed  in  the  messages  of  the  city,  to  the   extent  that  we  often  can't  even  see  them.  This  ‘normalization’  of  cities  allows  them   to  function  as  powerful  ideological  messages  about  what  is  of  value  in  society,   because  we  don’t  notice  that  we  are  being  talked  to.   A  first  step  to  decoding  cities  is  to  learn  to  escape  the  pervasive  normalization  of   cities  that  everyday  life  demands.   We  must  learn  to  see  cities  as  a  highly  artificial  environment,  that  is  the  result  of   long  series  of  choices,  policies,  rules,  investments,  and  power  relationships.   Then  we  can  ask  when,  how,  who,  where,  why  those  choices  were  made,  and  it  all   starts  to  look  a  little  more  unfamiliar,  strange,  and  foreign.  Such  de-­‐normalization   will  help  in  learning  to  read  the  city.     b.
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