Urban studies is the attempt to understand cities and city life. An interdisciplinary program of study, it encompasses the political institutions, economic and social relations, physical landscapes, and cultural frameworks that constitute the city. Using the conceptual tools supplied by architecture, sociology, art history, anthropology, environmental studies, economics, history, literature, and political science, urban studies both focuses on cities as distinctive entities and explores the meaning and function of cities in the larger society. Urban studies also examines the processes that produce certain patterns of human settlement and charts the changing relationships among areas shaped by urbanization, such as metropolis and countryside, city and suburb, and municipality and region.
Yale has a long intellectual tradition of grappling with the nature of urban growth and decline, the social and cultural life of cities, and the politics of urban change. In recent years, the University has made a renewed commitment to New Haven, its home for three centuries. Many students deepen their understanding of cities by becoming involved in the life of New Haven.