UEP 305 Urban Data Analysis

In this course, students will learn how to document and analyze urban and environmental problems and public policies using quantitative data.  Quantitative data provide a compelling means by which we can understand the magnitude of urban problems and who is impacted by these problems across demographic groups, neighborhoods, cities, and countries.  Quantitative data can also help identify solutions, including public policies, and then evaluate the effectiveness of those solutions.  Ultimately, our task is to develop quantitative reasoning skills in order to mobilize facts in the pursuit of a more just and equitable urban society.  In the words of urban geographer Elvin Wyly:  "Get mad.  Get data.  Get to work."  Or, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said:  "You can't solve a problem until you first learn how to measure it."  An important aspect of the course is how to make relevant and meaningful comparisons.  How can we understand the size and significance of an urban problem such as low-wage work, or housing discrimination, racial profiling by police, or air pollution?  We understand these issues best in relation to other outcomes:  good jobs, nondiscriminatory housing and police practices, and clean air.  We need to measure these outcomes in ways that we can compare them.  Toward that goal, students will learn basic mathematical calculations and concepts such as percentages, rates, normalization, baselines, distributions, and probability.  We will learn to read and interpret quantitative information presented in various formats, such as tables, graphs, geometric figures, or in text.  Students will learn to assess numeric arguments and "answers" for reasonableness, as well as to recognize the limits of quantitative methods.  Lastly, students will learn to evaluate how quantitative data is used, and sometimes misused, in the news media and public debates about social, economic, and environmental problems.  Students will also engage basic questions of research:  What data do we need to answer relevant policy questions?  How can we devise a research project that would generate these data?  Students will explore basic research methods using quantitative data, such as specifying a research question, research design, sampling, measurement, and validity.


4 units


UEP 305A

Core Requirements Met

  • Mathematics/Science