Geographies of Cities

City freewayGeographers at SDSU conduct research on a variety of urban issues from a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Some use GIS and quantitative spatial analytical methods to study the spatial organization of cities and solve problems associated with transportation, housing, and crime. Others employ mixed and qualitative methods to study how different people experience cities paying attention to the right to inhabit urban spaces and the ability to access resources and shape one’s environment.


Child Friendly Cities

Stuart Aitken has been involved with the UN’s Child-Friendly City initiative and with the effects of Brazil’s Right to the City Statute on children and youth.

Children with Special Needs and Urban Space

Stuart Aitken has worked with homeless children and children with cerebral palsy with regard to their perception of space and urban access.

Right to the City

Stuart Aitken works on youth activism with a focus on child rights to the city.

The Right to Stay Put

Stuart Aitken worked with Giorgio Curti and Jim Craine on the fight to stay put, which focused on social lessons through media imaginings and urban transformation and change. Fernando Bosco, Kate Swanson, and Pascale Joassart-Marcelli contributed chapters on this topic in a volume they edited.

Film and Urban Spaces

Stuart Aitken works on media geographies and the city.

Critical GIS

Stuart Aitken works on the theoretical and philosophical foundations of Geographic Information Science as it is applied to urban planning.

Geographies of Memory and Commemoration in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fernando Bosco studies the role of sites of memory and commemoration in the construction of cultural and collective memory in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

graduate student and little italy grade school students viewing old air photo

Preserve Little Italy

The goal of this project was to document the history and landscape of the neighborhood and inform historic preservation efforts in Little Italy, San Diego. Tom Herman established a partnership with the Little Italy Association and received a grant from the National Park Service to fund the research. Fernando Bosco, Stuart Aitken, Lydia Wood, and numerous graduate students contributed to archival research, interviews, and mapping efforts.

The Healthy City

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Giorgio Curti investigate class- and race-based disparities in access to public parks within San Diego and the socio-cultural dynamics that influence how people use these spaces.

Alternative Food Projects and Neoliberal Urbanism

Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando Bosco examine the rapid growth of so-called alternative food projects, including community gardens and farmers markets, in the context of neoliberal urban policies.

Food Practices, Neighborhood Change, and Urban Citizenship in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Fernando Bosco investigates how ongoing changes in the retail food environment of contemporary Buenos Aires, Argentina, relate to neighborhood change and urban citizenship—belonging, accessing, and participating in city life.



Survey of the location, function and spread of cities; the spatial and functional arrangement of activities in cities, leading to an analysis of current urban problems: sprawl, city decline, metropolitan transportation. Field trips may be arranged.

Political and economic forces shaping the structure and organization of cities; physical and human consequences of urbanization; environmental, economic and social sustainability of cities. Housing, transportation, land use, urban services, employment, segregation, and social inequality.

Worldwide trends in urbanization. Case studies of selected cities from various culture areas with focus on international variations in city structure and urban problems.

Intensive study of a spatial aspect of human geography. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content.