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City of the Future

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I applied to and began my studies at UW with the intention of studying psychology or neurobiology. I became increasingly frustrated at the courses packed with 300+ students and the way the science courses pitted students against each other. During my first quarter, I had taken a medieval art history class which reminded me of my love of the Humanities; After reaching the pinnacle of my frustration and annoyance in a physiology class (due to class politics) I realized I yearned to go back to the Humanities. I yearned for smaller classes, discussions, and critical thought.

In the middle of the Winter 2016, I found myself reading the UW course catalog and the Humanities degree offerings in desperation. I came across CHID (Comparative History of Ideas) and made an appointment with the adviser immediately. Within ten minutes of being in her office, I had changed my major. The following quarter, Spring 2016, I began taking the required CHID “Gateway Courses” and found a CHID 250 “special topics” class that, for that quarter, included a course called “City of the Future.” I felt lukewarm about the class when I registered  – at the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in city development, but it fit into my schedule and I thought it could be interesting.

After three years at the University of Washington, this course remains one of the best experiences I’ve had and the one that has had the most influence over my choices for courses afterwards. I’ve always considered myself a “city girl” but I realized I knew so little about my urban environments and was horribly unaware of so many things, so many aspects of the city. In this class, we covered everything from philosophy (Foucault! Panopticism! And my favorites – the flâneur and psychogeography) to social issues to security measures to globalization and logistics. I had been taking the bus to school but only two routes that went from near my house to campus. Keith (our professor) had us riding the light rail and the little Amazon street car for field trips – we explored South Lake Union, the courthouse, and so much more. We even got the chance to ride a city bus, reserved solely for our class, and learned all the intricacies of how transit lines and buses work.

I gained so much through this class, it has forever changed how I view my surroundings and how I move through urban spaces. I have drawn from the ideas and knowledge continuously in my day to day life and in other classes. (Years later, I am still referencing something – a book, an idea, a statistic, and author – from City of the Future.) I was so greatly inspired by this class, I knew that I had to do something for my senior thesis in relation to one of the many concepts that fascinated me – including the novel we read, The City & The City, which is the next item in my “inspired by” list.