University of Pennsylvania
Cities Studied

Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Detroit, Istanbul, Mumbai, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, St. Louis, Venice,


Eugenie L. Birch FAICP
Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research
Department of City and Regional Planning
Chair, Graduate Group in City and Regional Planning
co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research

David Brownlee
Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of 19th Century European Art
History of Art Department
School of Arts and Sciences

The Humanities+Urbanism+Design Initiative is a ground-breaking five-year collaboration by the School of Design, School of Arts and Sciences and Penn Institute for Urban Research that brings together students and faculty to explore cities—past, present and future—at the intersection of the humanities and design disciplines and through teaching, conference participation, and publication.

Sample Projects

 H+U+D Colloquium

The H+U+D Colloquium is the centerpiece of Penn’s initiative . Its twenty members, drawn from the humanities and design faculties, meet two times a month to explore mutual interests.  The meetings consist of members’ presentations, field trips, and invited lectures.

Course Support & Development

As planned, the initiative produced several new courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels.  They include two types of City Seminars for undergraduates that feature travel components and a Problematics seminar for graduate students. In addition, the initiative is funding faculty to develop new courses.  The initiative also developed a program to introduce humanities scholars into design juries. Sample courses include Making Modern Paris Above and Below (international), Baltimore: The Wire and the City (domestic), Architects, Historians, and the Invention of Modern Architecture (graduate seminar).

Student Research

H+U+D disseminates a request for student research proposals among undergraduate and graduate students each year.  Student research awards are granted to students working at the intersection of humanities and design disciplines in cities.

Public Programs

In an effort to spread the H+U+D “magic” beyond the seminar room (and beyond Philadelphia), the initiative presents and co-sponsors lectures for the wider university community at Penn.  It also sponsors workshops and other presentations at the annual conferences of major professional organizations in the humanities and design disciplines.  At the workshops, we share the important lessons and debates of our colloquium program and widen the discussion.

Junior Fellows

H+U+D invited applications for two one-year junior fellowships in year three of the initiative and will do so again in year four.  Prospective fellows were required to have completed their doctoral work in the humanities and design.  The call encouraged a wide range of applicants from the humanities and design disciplines.  The application materials included a research plan and a proposal for an undergraduate course.  The review committee selected one fellow from each discipline.  Upon arrival at Penn each fellow was appointed to the mirror discipline; the humanities fellow is appointed to a design discipline and vice versa for the duration of the fellowship year.



Humanities+Urbanism+Design Initiative Coursework

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Humanities+Urbanism+Design Initiative Coursework



Each H+U+D graduate or undergraduate seminar examines a single city in a detailed, multidisciplinary way that includes humanities and design.

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