Parsons Launches First Undergraduate Urban Design Program in US

Parsons Launches First Undergraduate Urban Design Program in US

As more and more of the global population are living in cities, designing for urban centers has become a challenge that no discipline can tackle alone. To prepare designers to understand the rapidly changing urban landscape, Parsons The New School for Design has launched a Bachelor of Science in Urban Design, the country's first undergraduate degree program of its kind, and has new Master of Arts and Master of Science programs in development.

"These programs draw on the strengths of both Parsons and The New School-a rich history of engaged citizenship, a commitment to visionary design, and a spirit of social inquiry," said Joel Towers, Dean of Parsons. "Add to this our location in one of the world's great urban laboratories, and the program offers undergraduates an unparalleled opportunity to develop as designers."

The four-year, 120-credit program is structured around a series of projects that address the roles of design in relation to critical issues facing cities such as sustainability, global migration, and economic instability. Through activities such as collaborative workshops and design studios, students engage directly within various New York City contexts to develop real-world design solutions to urban challenges.

"Cities have become far too complex for any one person, academic discipline, or professional practice to grasp alone," said program director Victoria Marshall. "Through a mix of studios, workshops, field work, and social science courses, students will critically engage with the aesthetic, cultural, ecological and political dimensions of urban life." Marshall is a practicing landscape architect, and the founder of TILL, a Newark-based landscape architecture and urban design office with projects all over the world. She has also taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Toronto.

To foster this diversity of perspectives, the program brings design students together, in and out of the classroom, with students of the liberal arts. It is part of a suite of new programs at The New School that embodies the civic mission of the institution through a mixture of liberal arts, design theory and professional practice The program shares a core curriculum with the BA in Urban Studies, situated at Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, which gives students a broad introduction to the social, political, and cultural issues facing contemporary urban communities. In addition, urban design students will work with students in other Parsons programs and the university's Environmental Studies and Global Studies programs. Urban Design graduates will be prepared for careers in a range of fields including design, planning, cultural management, urban development, community and civic advocacy, and education.

In timing with the launch of the program, Parsons has expanded its noteworthy faculty to include international designers Aseem Inam and Miguel Robles-Duran. Inam is an architect and urban planner who specializes in infrastructure, disaster relief, and rural habitat development. Robles-Duran is co-founder of Cohabitation Strategies, an international cooperative for architecture and urbanism, where his work has focused on the design of interventions and strategies in uneven urban developments and areas of social urban conflict.

Inam and Duran are developing the curriculum for two new master's programs focused on urban issues: MA Theories of Urban Practice and MS Design and Urban Ecologies. The MA Theories of Urban Practice prepares students to guide the transformation of cities as strategic leaders of community groups, foundations, educational institutions, think tanks, public agencies, private firms, and global networks of collaborative practice. The MS in Design and Urban Ecologies is a studio-based program that uses interdisciplinary methods to prepare students to design collaborative processes and interventions that lead to tangible urban transformation.

Parsons The New School for Design