Public Space and Urban Identity: Theory, Policy, Politics, and Design
Public spaces play an essential role in the life of cities and their residents. Public squares and parks, streets and esplanades—these are often the signature spaces that constitute a city’s distinctive identity. They are the settings of everyday life: mixing bowls, thoroughfares, and transfer stations where a city’s diverse communities interact, as well as forums for individual and collective action and expression. And they are spaces of protest and domains for the practice of citizenship.
This course explores a variety of issues regarding public space, including political theories of the public space, democracy and free speech in public space, heterogeneity and cultural expression in public space, regulation of conduct in public space, surveillance, informal public spaces, privatization of public space, public space in non-democratic societies, and the urban design of public space. We will explore three overarching questions. What do we mean by “public” and “public space”? What are common characteristics of public spaces and how do people use them? And why are public spaces important to city life?