Image of GMS header



The Center for Global Metropolitan Studies

By the year 2025, the world’s population will reach 8,000,000,000, and almost 60% of those people will live in metropolitan regions. Around the globe, this growth in metropolitan areas is already affecting nature, the built environment, and society in profound ways. To address the challenges of metropolitan areas, scholars from a dozen UC Berkeley departments have established the Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative. The faculty affiliates are working together to better understand the implications of worldwide growth in metropolitan areas and to develop strategies to improve urbanization processes and outcomes.

Global Metropolitan Studies is one of five new initiatives that the Berkeley campus is supporting to foster interdisciplinary collaborations in areas of emerging interest. The Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative will include new graduate and undergraduate courses and degree options as well as a new research programs. The campus has provided startup funds for the first several years of the initiative; they are being used to develop the initiative’s academic programs, support research symposia and a lecture series, and attract outside funding.

Academic Programs:

Global Metropolitan Studies has been authorized to add five new faculty positions to build a permanent educational enterprise. Three new faculty members have been hired to date. Jason Corburn, an expert in environmental planning, is also a member of the City and Regional Planning Department. Joan Walker, GMS' specialist in infrastructure planning and management, is joining the CEE Department in Fall 2008. Alison Post, whose research is in comparative metropolitan politics and policy, will join GMS and the Political Science Department in Fall 2009. Two additional positions will be filled in coming years.

The new faculty hires will join over 70 Global Metropolitan Studies faculty affiliates already on campus. Core faculty come from the founding Departments of City and Regional Planning, Geography, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Political Science, Sociology, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. Additional faculty affiliates are from Architecture, the Energy and Resources Group, Environmental Sciences Policy and Management, History, Public Health, and Public Policy. All faculty members with an interest in metropolitan studies are invited to participate in the initiative’s activities.

Several educational initiatives are planned:

  1. An undergraduate Urban and Metropolitan Studies Major, and possibly, a Minor;
  2. An Interdisciplinary Graduate Group in Comparative Metropolitan Studies; and
  3. An Interdisciplinary Graduate Group in Infrastructure and Environment.

The organizers hope to have the first curricula for these initiatives in place during the academic year 2008-2009.


The Center for Global Metropolitan Studies has been created as a new research enterprise in the Institute of Urban and Regional Development. The Center for Global Metropolitan Studies aims to deepen and expand the interdisciplinary research underway by Berkeley faculty and students studying metropolitan problems in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, the US and Canada.

Research projects have already been funded by the Hewlett Foundation, the California High Speed Rail Authority, the Energy Foundation, the World Bank, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the World Resources Institute. Additional projects are pending.