Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Albany (California), Beijing, Berkeley, Detroit, Dublin, Emeryville (California), Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New Dehli, Oakland (California), Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Franciso, São Paulo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tbilisi (Georgia), Tokyo, Tokyo, Vienna, Yumen (China),
The UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative (GloUH) unites scholars and practitioners from the design disciplines and the arts and humanities to study cities. By supporting the creation of new hybrids and mixed methods, we enable graduate students to experiment with approaches across other disciplines, combining quantitative, qualitative, artistic, hermeneutic, projective, and narrative approaches to the analysis and representation of urban life and form.
Interdisciplinary Methods and Theory Courses
Students in UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities (GloUH) courses have engaged not just in studying but in intervening in cities. For example, a course co-taught by a choreographer and an urban designer encouraged graduate students to use performances in transit plazas and a retail warehouse store to investigate the meaning of public space in ways that informed their work in their home disciplines of landscape architecture, anthropology and performance studies. In another interdisciplinary course, students partnered with the City of San Leandro to create interactive urban light art projects that also collected data on pedestrian activity.
Students in archaeology, information science, architecture, and geography learned to program in Arduino and use 3D printers to encourage citizens to use previously neglected spaces and delight in new experiences. Other courses are being team taught by faculty with backgrounds in in performance studies and city planning; urban planning and film studies; comparative literature and cultural anthropology; art history and architecture; and music and architecture. Methods classes provide students with skills in ethnography, mapping, GIS, coding, 3-D printing, video, audio, drawing, graphic design, and urban design research techniques. Cross-disciplinary colloquia bring together students and faculty from diverse departments, and video archives make guest lectures widely available.
Traveling Research Studios
Multi-disciplinary student teams have traveled to Los Angeles to study mobility and identity; to China’s Pearl River Delta to study urban art villages; and to Mexico City to study the politics of art and urban space. Each studio is co-led by a faculty member from the design disciplines and a humanist. Students say one of the most valuable parts of these studios is the opportunity to learn skills and perspectives from their fellow students from very different disciplines.
GloUH has sponsored exhibitions on mapping, cultural landscape history, and the intersection of art and politics. See-Through Maps was a competition and online and live exhibition that revealed the agendas behind many kinds of maps. The exhibition website remains an archive of images and essays on methods of cartography that remain useful for teaching and discussion. The Atlas of the Albany Bulb was a mapping and oral history project that worked with a homeless community to represent their lives at a shoreline landfill from which they were being evicted. The documentation of their experiences was part of an exhibition at the SOMArts gallery in San Francisco that combined artistic and ethnographic, and contemporary archeological approaches. “Art+Village+City” is an exhibition mounted in October–November 2015 both at UC Berkeley and at the Shanghai West Bund Biennale. This exhibit, which uses large-scale photo collage and dioramas, is an example of the experimental methods both of research and representation that GloUH supports.
In order to encourage experimentation in scholarly publishing, GloUH supports student-edited publications on urban themes. Urban Pilgrimage is an online and print publication exploring passages, memory, and the experience of place. Participatory Urbanisms investigates the notion of artistic and political participation by focusing on New Delhi and Sao Paulo. Using an innovative online diptych format, the project that allows the reader to choose images and text in order to juxtapose projects and performances from the two cities. The online publication also includes interviews with practitioners of participatory art and activism from the two cities, and peer-reviewed articles on participation broadly defined. The project also includes two printed volumes of the interviews and articles.
GloUH sponsors interdisciplinary symposia that bring together scholars and urban practitioners around issues ranging from the arts and public space to housing and justice to politics and performance. Videos from the symposia are shared online, forming a permanent archive useful to scholars and community members. "Reimagining the Urban" brought together Bay Area artists and activists to discuss art, gentrification, and the environment. "Mapping and Its Discontents" combined scholarly presentations on cartography with an open competition that allowed artists, community activists and others to submit maps. Other symposia explored creative work and housing justice, walking in the city, and art and politics in the cities of Mexico and China.
Art, Politics & the City in Mexico and China
This wide-ranging interdisciplinary symposium examined art, commerce, politics, violence, history, and urban space on both sides of the Pacific.
Art Village City Exhibition
Atlas of the Albany Bulb: Refuge in Refuse
Global Urban Humanities Initiative Project Director Susan Moffat organized one section of the exhibit Refuge in Refuse: Homesteading Art & Culture Project, which included oral histories and maps exploring the natural and cultural landscape of the Albany Bulb--a landfill peninsula on the east shore of San Francisco Bay.
Mapping and its Discontents
At this interdisciplinary symposium, mapmakers, users, and critics from the worlds of science, urban planning, architecture, history, and new media examined the ways maps work.
Reimagining the Urban
SeeThrough Maps: Maps That Lay Bare Their Point of View
University of California at Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Courses
Berkeley's program consists of a series of cross-disciplinary theory seminars, collaborative methods workshops designed to prepare students for different modes of social and spatial analysis, and urban research studios focusing on the Pacific Rim cities of Los Angeles, Guangzhou/Pearl River Delta, and Mexico City. These elements of the project are complemented by joint Symposia & Lectures involving the UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative.
A special issue of Room One Thousand, sponsored by the Global Urban Humanities Initiative at Berkeley, considers the relationship between pilgrimage—understood broadly as itinerancy or mobility—and urban environments.