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Québec Studies: An Urban Studies Perspective

August 31, 2009

By Professors Fritz Wagner and Regent Cabana

Above: “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to travel to Québec to experience the geographical layout and culture of the cities of Montréal and Québec City and of the province as a whole. It is always beneficial to use study tours to gain knowledge to apply to our current studies and gain perspectives on different issues that we are facing in our own living environment.” – Gilbert Wong (left in photo), graduate student in Landscape Architecture

During our study tour this summer, in the province of Quebec, we visited two cities – Montréal and Québec. In each city, a number of professors, government officials and other urban experts gave lectures and tours. The course examined similarities and differences between US and Québec cities. We looked more particularly at current urban issues confronting communities in Québec. We studied the physical layout of cities, urban design and urban growth, problems related to the environment, governmental institutions as well as historical, social and cultural factors specific to Quebec cities. Students wrote a paper on a topic related to urban issues encountered in Québec.

The course also introduced the logic of comparative research in the social sciences and applied its theory and methodology to the study of Québec cities as compared to US cities. Its multidisciplinary and comparative character developed the ability to interpret and understand urban changes, changing demographics, and to analyze appropriate and sustainable strategies and policies to address urban problems in Québec and the US. Students gained a better understanding of economic, political, social, and cultural differences between Québec and the US.The course also helped them better understand the diversity of the contemporary urban world in Québec and the US and the importance of the social-cultural factors specific to each region and city in finding solutions to common urban problems. By the end of the course, students were more conversant in cross-border urban issues in Québec and the US.