Egypt: Modern Cairo, Urban Development, and Social Change
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Study urban development and post-revolutionary processes in Cairo, one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
In early 2011, Cairo was the central site for a dramatic shift in Egyptian and regional power, sparked by the defiant and peaceful occupation of urban public space.
While current processes of social change in Egypt have sparked global interest, understanding revolutionary transformation in Egypt requires an accompanying focus on the challenges and dynamics of its cities – especially Cairo. According to UN-HABITAT, the majority of humanity now lives in cities and towns, and by 2030, more than 60 percent of the world’s population is projected to be urban. Policymakers, community activists, and city residents across the globe must be equipped with the skills, knowledge, and tools to make our world’s cities healthier, more livable, and sustainable.
This program will explore a host of pressing issues caused by rapid urbanization within the context of ongoing revolutionary change. Issues of study include population density, affordable housing, water supply and waste management, public transportation, and environmental degradation.
Particular attention will be paid to the challenges faced by Cairo’s indigent populations, who live in informal settlements lacking basic services. The program will be guided by questions of space (public, private, gendered), place (shifting areas of significance), and power (who has access and why?) to assess ongoing efforts to recast Cairo as a revolutionary city increasingly responsive to the needs of its inhabitants.
Students will learn from academics, government officials, and NGO activists, all of whom are engaged in efforts to improve the city’s livability. Through lectures, discussions, field exercises, and educational excursions, students will gain a theoretical grounding in both urban studies and cultural geography, along with hands-on experience with Cairo’s overburdened transportation, waste management, and education systems.
In addition to urban development coursework, students will study Arabic and increase their knowledge of Arab culture in a setting that provides both North African and Middle Eastern perspectives. Through the Research Design for Urban Development and Social Change course, students will develop essential methodological skills, ethical insights, and the confidence to conduct academic field study in unfamiliar cultural settings.
|At the forefront of social and political change
Egypt is one of the leading countries striving to remake Middle East and North Africa societies in newly imagined ways. Following its 18-day revolution and the ouster of the former president, the country is poised to implement processes of democratization while embarking on an unprecedented program of social change.Cairo’s inhabitants were central to the revolutionary events of 2011, in part by successfully laying claim to the city’s central spaces. Among the altered dynamics are dramatic claims to the use of public space, as evidenced by the occupation of Tahrir Square. The program will focus on shifting meanings and dynamics of space, while exploring the approaches Egypt’s new leaders will take in addressing the continuing challenges of everyday life in Cairo.
SIT is closely monitoring the ongoing social and political transformations in Egypt and will continue to update the status of the program in the coming weeks.
View Student Evaluations for this program:
About the Evaluations (PDF)