University of Minnesota

Urban Studies Student Profile

Name: Laura Schreiber
Anticipated Graduation Year:
Hometown: Rogers, MN

How and why did you choose your major?

Finding this major was quite the roundabout process. I already had a major declared in Strategic Communications within the Journalism school, however I felt like something was missing. I loved taking classes that focused on politics, the environment or social issues. I kept struggling with wanting to switch to political science or global studies but then I found urban studies after some late night googling sessions and fell in love. I can take my love for politics, social issues, policy analysis and it all fits into one beautifully diverse major. Unlike most urban studies majors I wasn't obsessed with cities, rather I saw the opportunity to take all my interests and focus it down to cities and see how all these dynamics live and breathe in that space.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

The urban studies major is composed of 4 different tracks. You can decide if you want to study social and cultural dynamics in a city (this is the path I am taking) environment/infrastructure, international urban issues, or urban political economy. What does all of that mean? Basically you are analyzing the different relationships in cities whether that be with people and city systems/policies, infrastructure and its impact on both people and the environment or looking at developing countries and seeing what issues they face. One of my favorite classes was POL 3771 Politics of Race, Class and Ethnicity. This class challenged what I thought I knew about the complexities of these topics and really allowed you to take a deep dive into what is race, how does it differ from different cultures, etc. Another cool thing you are able to do with Urban Studies is take colloquium courses with people who are currently out in the world doing "urban studies work." Currently I am taking a course on environmental justice in Zambia within the mining industry there and it is fascinating! It is awesome to have the chance to have incredibly small classes with people who are doing interesting work and engage in discussions. Challenges: this major is very diverse which I love, but also makes it difficult to summarize. You have to be very intentional about what classes you select and constantly ask yourself what am I trying to get out of this major since there is so much flexibility with classes.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

I recently added on this major so I have not had a ton of time to get involved with groups on campus so much. That being said though I am excited to get involved with the Minnesota Urban Studies Student Association. I studied abroad in Bali, Indonesia last may and while the class was looking at inter-cultural leadership and globalization, I saw cities that would be considered as still "developing" and the direct environmental impacts of not having an established infrastructure so it was really eye opening to see that this work is vital and needed. This was part of the push to add urban studies as a major.

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

This major requires you to be a tenacious learner. You have to want to know more and keep asking why for everything.

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