UW URBDP 591A/598L:
Research Design in Urban Science
Fall Quarter 2015
Instructor: Marina Alberti
Department of Urban Design and Planning
Tel: 206 616 8667
This course is designed to provide graduate students in the applied social and natural sciences the theoretical and practical skills for conducting research in complex urban settings. The objective is to develop critical and analytical skills for designing and conducting empirical and applied research in urban science. The emphasis is on integration and synthesis of theories, concepts, and data across multiple disciplines. Research design is framed as an emergent process. Students will be exposed to the issues involved in research decisions and to diverse problem-solving strategies and technical tools. The course examines the logic and limits of scientific inquiry, conceptualization and measurement of social and ecological phenomena in urbanizing systems, and principles of research design and practice.
The course is structured in two components: a theoretical/methodological component and an applied research component. The theoretical component consists of lectures on research design principles and approaches. Lectures cover statistical principles of research design, hypothesis testing and statistical inference, sampling strategies, and analytical approaches to randomized experimental, quasi-experimental, longitudinal and cross-comparative studies. Major theoretical issues include: threats to internal validity, sampling and external validity, reliability of measures, causality, interpretation of statistical analysis and ethics in research. The applied research component focuses on the practice of scientific research through interactions with diverse urban scientists including invited video lectures of national and international experts of big data on research applications, challenges, and lessons learned through their experience.
Themes of inquiry include: Urban change and evolution, predicting and imagining the future city, urban ecology, social networks, virtual mobility, shared economies, critical transitions and innovation, urban analytics, emerging sensors and big data.