Youth Urbanisms

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Youth Urbanism: Global Trends, Local Perspectives

Faculty:  Yi’En Cheng

Course Description: This course explores the relationship between youths and their urban environments from a global perspective. More than half of the world’s young people live in cities today, where they contribute to urban life from everyday use of street space to participation in politics and transnational mobility. Yet, structures of inequality continue to frame their lives. Through the lens of youth urbanism, students examine theories, debates, and policy concerns across social inequalities, education/employment, migration, citizenship, and politics – themes that cur across Urban Studies and Global Affairs. Each week we explore a specific topic including youth surveillance, street youth, studentification, young people’s mobilities, and youth protests. Critical evaluation, synthesis, and innovation skills will also be developed through assignments in the forms of reflection paper, term essay, field-based project and in-class discussion.

Course objectives:

  1. Re-examine fundamental concepts in urban studies (‘Introduction to Urban Studies’) and global affairs (‘Introduction to Global Affairs’) through the lens of young people’s experiences, including:
  • The relationship between age, youth, and urban public/private spaces
  • Socio-economic life of urban youth: urban segregation, inequalities, mobility
  • Urban youth cultures: production and consumption of urban spaces in the ‘global city’
  • Political life in the city: young people’s engagement with diverse political acts
  • Transnational urbanism: young people’s role in generating international and trans-local movements, flows, and connections within urban locales

The objective is to develop in students a critical eye for (i) the possibility of adultist underpinnings in urban and globalisation theories and practices; and (ii) the role of youth in urban change.

  1. Inquire more deeply into urban and global issues as they articulate into young people’s lives in contemporary cities, thereby extending students’ knowledge and intellectual competence in their respective field of study. Students also gain understanding in current issues of social relevance, such as:
  • youth under/unemployment
  • global youth mobility
  • educational change
  • role of youth in planning and decision-making processes
  • re-emergence of youth activism and politics

The objective is to provide students with substantial material and topics to pursue further in their Capstone research, especially using youth as a lens to interrogate social issues.

Syllabus (tentative)

  • Urban Youth: tracing concepts and definitions
  • Youth Culture: a primer / Ethnographies of youth
  • Youth Surveillance: Space, Place, and Temporality
  • Street/Homeless Youth: Class, Race, and Gender
  • Studentification: Gentrification and Housing
  • Youth-scapes in the Singapore City – Fieldtrip
  • Urban Mobilities I: Movement in the City
  • Urban Mobilities II: Youth Migrations
  • Urban Citizenship I: the “Entrepreneurial” Youth
  • Urban Citizenship II: Resistance and Revolution

Readings (key)

  • Greg Dimitriadis. 2008. Studying Urban Youth Culture Primer. Peter Lang.
  • Kathrin Horschelmann & Lorraine van Blerk. 2012. Children, Youth, and the City.
  • Hansen, Karen Tranberg et al. 2008. Youth and the City in the Global South. Indiana University Press.
  • Massoun Sukarieh & Stuart Tannock. 2015. Youth Rising? The Politics of Youth in the Global Economy. Routledge.
  • Jo-Anne Dillabough & Jacqueline Kennelly. 2010. Lost Youth in the Global City: Class, Culture and Urban Imaginary. Routledge.
  • Craig Jeffrey & Jane Dyson. 2008. Telling Young Lives: Portraits of Global Youth. Temple University Press.
  • Paul Chatterton and Robert Hollands. 2003. Urban Nightscapes: Youth Cultures, Pleasure Spaces and Corporate Power. Psychology Press.
  • Tracey Skelton and Katherine Gough. 2013. Special issue: Young people’s im/mobile urban geographies. Urban Studies. 50(3).
  • Jobs, Richard. & Pomfret, D. 2015. Transnational Histories of Youth in the Twentieth Century. Palgrave McMillan.


Class of 2017/18