Fall 2024

Urban Inequality in Large US Cities

Director:  Paul Hagstrom, Professor of Economics
Phone:  315-859-4146
Email: phagstro@hamilton.edu

The organization and structure of cities create opportunities for economic vibrancy. Major US cities like New York also exhibit higher levels of income inequality within and across demographic groups. With the city as our classroom, we will observe, identify, and seek to explain the drivers of urban inequalities and evaluate policies and structures designed to address them.

395  Demography, Growth, and Inequality in New York City

Large US cities have long been the gateway to the United States for immigrants from around the world. These newcomers provide labor, spur economic growth and add cultural richness to New York. Using field trips and in-class readings, we will examine the roles of immigrants on the evolving economic and social fabric of the city.

396 Independent study

You will write a 20-25 page paper focusing on an economic policy  or structure designed to address urban inequality. The paper must focus on New York City and should incorporate an experience, perhaps a volunteer experience, or a discussion with someone directly involved with the policy solution you decide to study.

398  Inequality in Large US Cities

The structure of cities encourages economic growth. Yet, in our largest cities, economic growth tends to be associated with higher rates of poverty, higher rates of unemployment, and higher overall levels of economic inequality. Those at the low end of the economic spectrum tend to be geographically concentrated. Spatial segregation influences the availability of high quality food, the quality of publicly provided education, and the access to affordable housing and well-paying jobs. 

We will examine the history, social forces, and policy structures that affect economic inequality, with a special focus on New York and other large US cities. Topics will include housing affordability and segregation, transportation, food deserts, urban labor markets, the digital economy, and demographic trends that affect the composition of our major cities.


Spring 2025

Inequality, Identity, and Immigration

Director:  Steve Orvis, Professor of Government
Phone:  315-859-4310
Email:  sorvis@hamilton.edu

In 2023, New York City experienced an “immigration crisis,” as numbers of immigrants arriving in the city, many bussed from Texas and Florida, were unprecedented. The city struggled to find shelter for them, leaving too many without services and straining the city’s budget and capacity. This was only the most recent “crisis” in a long history of immigration that has shaped the city since its founding. This semester we will focus on the closely interrelated topics of immigration, identity, and inequality. When immigrants enter the US, they enter a social and political context of growing inequality and ongoing identity conflicts, and in turn they shape that context. How do inequality and identity influence how immigrants are received? How should they be welcomed into American society and culture? And how does all this play out now in the largest city in the country? In addition to the courses below, students will ideally pursue internships with organizations working on these interrelated issues in some way.

College 395: Inequality, Identity, and Immigration in New York City
Examines the history and current context of immigration into New York City and its relationship to identity-based groups in the city, identity-based political conflicts, and the evolution of socio-economic inequality. Topics will include: history of immigrant neighborhoods, municipal
policies and practices around inclusion of immigrants in urban society, immigrants’ role in city politics, racial politics in the city, criminal justice policies, religious diversity, policies and social changes re: gender and sexual orientation. Includes guest speakers, visits to organizations in the city working on these issues, and current and former immigrant neighborhoods.

College 398: Seminar on Inequality, Identity, and Immigration
Examines the origins of socio-economic inequality in the US and its relationships to identity, identity-based political conflicts, and immigration. Key topics include: overall trends in inequality, perceptions and lived experience of inequality, the social construction of identity in the contemporary US, key contemporary identity-based political issues and conflicts (eg: criminal justice issues, housing, education, gender-based harassment, immigrant “assimilation”),
immigration policies, philosophical and policy debates over equality and inclusion in a democracy.

Fall 2025

Innovation in the Global City

Director:  Chris Georges, Professor of Economics
Phone:  315-859-4472
Email:  cgeorges@hamilton.edu

Spring 2026

Photography and Arts Leadership in the Global City

Director:  Robert Knight, Associate Professor of Art
Phone:  315-859-4266
Email:  rbnight@hamilton.edu


Contact Name

Maddie Carrera

Director of Experiential Learning

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