Urban Studies

Study Abroad

Nothing can replace the experience of living in a new city and of understanding first-hand the diversity and dynamism of urban environments around the globe. Consider studying abroad for a semester!

Urban Studies concentrators can choose from programs in dozens of countries, each offering an enriching complement to their urban studies curriculum back at Brown.

Students interested in studying abroad should check out Brown's Study Abroad website for more information about the over 130 programs available through Brown or other approved partners.

During the Fall of 2019, I traveled with IHP’s Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Barcelona, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa. Spending a month in each country, the curriculum was urban studies focused, examining issues relating to housing, labor, transportation, tourism, urban citizenship, municipal governance, and more specific to each city we were in. Our classes were complemented by field trips, guest lectures, and meetings with local actors such as government officials, non-profits, business, and activists. Outside of the classroom, I got to live with three host families, one in each country that truly made by experience unique, and introduced me to three amazing families. Overall, this experience expanded my understanding of contemporary urban problems on a municipal scale as well as in a greater global context, and the range of actions and policies that the public, private, and non-profit sectors are taking across the globe to tackle the most pressing urban challenges.

Andrew Olivo '21 Fall 2019
Andrew Olivo in Cape Town, South Africa

I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark through the DIS - Copenhagen Study Abroad Program. My "core course", the thematic focus of my semester, was called the European Urban Experience: Why Cities Matter. I learned about human-centered design and tactical urbanism from faculty who work in diverse positions within the field of urban studies. My Strategies of Urban Livability course was taught half of the time in a traditional classroom, and half outside via bicycle tours to illuminate real-life concepts we got to experience firsthand. The built-in travel of the program allowed me and my coursemates to study the superblocks of Barcelona and to analyze public space and waterfront developments in Hamburg. This substantial practice in comparative thought was incredibly beneficial to my abroad experience. I biked, tried leverpostej, and learned a little bit of Danish to make the Scandinavian city feel like home. I credit my semester abroad (which was my first time leaving the United States) as one of the most important things I did at Brown. As a first-generation college student on financial aid, this opportunity was only possible thanks to Brown's support: the cost of my semester abroad was the same as a semester at Brown would have been.

Rose Carrillo '20 Spring 2019
Rose (drinking cider) in Nørrebro, a multicultural neighborhood in Copenhagen

Past Student Testimonials

Calvin Thompson '19 riding the Teleferíco in La Paz, Bolivia
Riding the Teleferíco in La Paz, Bolivia

For my spring 2018 semester, I studied abroad in an SIT: IHP Climate Change program spanning four continents and 22 cities, including Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia. The trip provided an exceptional opportunity to understand the immediacy and scale of climate change's impacts in the developing world-- Vietnam's 3000km long coast vulnerable to sea-rise, Morocco's dangerous water scarcity, and political conflict over Bolivia's mining resources as standout examples-- as well as fascinating cultural experiences, like a Moroccan "naming ceremony," that I would never otherwise have had. Through home-stays in each country, students have ample time to broaden their understanding of how regular people around the world live and work. The trip included rigorous travel and constant adjustment, but for any person interested in adventure during their undergraduate lives, there may be no better opportunity than a trip like this one.

– Calvin Thompson '19

Yasmin Toney in Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa

My program was through SIT (The School of International Training) and specifically I embarked on the IHP:People Planning & Politics track in the fall of 2017. I traveled to three cities: Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cape Town South Africa, and Ahmedabad, India for a global comparative analysis study on my topic: contentious forces in both the informal and formal labor market. Aside from my own independent research, I took international courses studying contemporary urban issues, sustainable development, and city planning. Traveling so frequently was not the easiest, and by no means did those 16 weeks come without any challenges. My favorite part though, were actually the people in my program. I was so fortunate to have a team of predominantly students of color and Black women comprising the largest portion of students. I am still close with many of them and we have meetups about every 2 months. They contributed to my learning in ways beyond my imagination and overall I am so grateful for the experience.

– Yasmin Toney '19

Sydney Anderson riding Berlin’s S-Bahn
Riding Berlin’s S-Bahn

Last semester I studied abroad in Prague. The program was history-focused, and I took classes in Czech history and art and architecture. I used the opportunity to study the Czech “panelak dum,” or panel house, pre-fabricated buildings created en masse throughout the country. Over 80,000 of these buildings were built from the 50s through the 80s throughout the country. The Socialist planning that influenced the beginnings of these communities was sound and comparable to today’s New Urbanism, but as the production increased, quality worsened. Since the end of the Communist regime the government and community members have focused on improving the quality of living in the buildings and the surrounding communities, as they still hold a lot of potential in terms of walkability and having the space to add amenities. It was exciting to study this under Czech professors, many of whom had lived through the regime and understood the panel housing to be a symbol of that time.

My program also allowed me to take classes at the international film school nearby, FAMU, where I took four classes in writing and production with students from countries all over the world. Through these classes I was able to travel throughout the Czech Republic and make many international friends. We took transportation everywhere we went – it’s the best way to get to know a city as every urban studies major knows!

– Sydney Anderson '19

Colin Kent-Daggett in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina

This Fall I studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Though the focus of the program was language, not Urban Studies, living in Buenos Aires and traveling across Argentina opened my eyes to new ways of organizing and interacting with urban space. In particular, the extreme level of participation in the constant rallies, marches, and protests of Buenos Aires showed me just how much control the people have over public space and the daily operations of a city if they choose to exert it.

– Colin Kent-Daggett '19

Kyler Carlson in Khon Kaen, Thailand
Khon Kaen, Thailand

This past Semester I studied with CIEE's Development and Globalization program in Khon Kaen, Thailand. The program explored the way large transnational development projects impact communities across different contexts, such as the way a highspeed rail project disrupts the informal settlements along the line, the way a dam irrigation project destroyed the wetlands that provided a livelihood for the communities on the banks of the Mun River, the way a Forest Conservation effort is a thinly-veiled effort to evict the poor off their land, and a few other cases.

In the face of these issues, the program highlighted the methods of organizing and resistance available to push back against the forces which exclude them. To bear witness to such community resilience made the program inspiring and worthwhile. I'd recommend it to anyone focusing their urban studies concentration on community development, organizing, informality, or international relations.

– Kyler Carlson '19