Our Vision

The pace and magnitude of contemporary urbanization is unprecedented, and urban areas are central to both environmental challenges and their solutions. Finding ways to inform and influence urban growth and development will be key to a sustainable future. Students electing the Urban Specialization at YSE focus on two key themes: 1) how environmental change affects urban areas, and 2) how urban areas and the process of urbanization affect the environment at local to global scales. This specialization will prepare students with the scientific basis to understand and assess environmental issues in towns, cities and other urban areas (e.g., urban heat islands; climate change impacts) and how urban processes contribute to global environmental change (e.g., biodiversity loss and climate change). The specialization also includes a human-policy dimension that focuses on how local strategies can address these issues. The specialization crosscuts the existing YSE specializations by placing a specific urban lens on the thematic aspects of environmental issues.

Program / Courses

specializations URBAN

Purpose and Scope

The Urban Specialization prepares students to engage deeply in the management of urban ecosystems. Students will learn to understand and assess key environmental challenges and possible policy and business solutions to address these issues.  The focus they choose will prepare them for their career goals – which may include, for example, working at a city-level on environmental policy, providing research or policy analysis to international development organizations, or joining a scientific research organization, among many other possibilities.

The specialization draws upon the unique strength of YSE and Yale.  YSE boasts leading faculty studying ecology, climate, forestry, soils, health and urbanization science.  Therefore, students selecting the Urban Specialization will develop an understanding of environmental management of urban ecosystems, including land use, urban ecology, spatial analysis and urban climate.  In addition, the Urban Specialization at YSE combines a scientific understanding of environmental issues with a deep understanding of urban challenges from an inter-disciplinary perspective. Faculty at Yale, across disciplines, offer classes and conduct research on the most current and pressing issues of urban growth.  Students benefit from the world-class research and scholarship on urban and environmental issues with cutting-edge practical skills to apply to future work.

In addition to providing students with a holistic view of urbanization and its challenges and a deep set of skills and tools to work with, the YSE Urban Specialization is a unique asset at Yale. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the specialization, students will take classes in a number of other Yale Schools and work and interact with students from other disciplines, cultivating a wider awareness on urban environmental issues.  Activities such as speaker series’, workshops, and publications engage faculty and students from across the University to discuss and debate local and global urban issues.  Finally, the YSE Urban Specialization provides a starting point for inter-disciplinary research engaging faculty across the University to address urban challenges from a research and policy perspective.  Thus, the specialization attracts students who plan to work at the city level, and also students with ambitions to work on national security, biodiversity, or climate negotiations at the national or international levels, among other topics.

The Urban Specialization will draw on core courses offered by YSE faculty and faculty cross-listed at YSE, as well as courses offered across Yale.  Faculty across Yale are leading experts in their disciplines, and many are engaged in research and work with a connection to urban areas. 

Note that a capstone course used to fulfill the MEM capstone requirement cannot also be used toward fulfilling an MEM Specialization requirement; a capstone course taken once cannot be used to fulfill multiple requirements. Learn more about YSE capstone courses by visiting the MEM Capstone page.

Specialization Coordinator: Karen Seto


Two required courses.
Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 573
Urban Ecology for Local and Regional Decision Making
Tu 5:00pm-7:50pm
ENV 645
Urbanization, Global Change and Sustainability
M 3:00-5:50


Students must select four additional courses, including one course from each of the following four bins below. There is no guarantee that faculty will accept YSE students in classes offered outside of YSE.

Bin 1: Urban Spatial Analysis

Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 726
Observing Earth from Space
Tu,Th 9:00-10:15
ENV 755
Modeling Geographic Space
W 9:00-11:50
ENV 756
Modeling Geographic Objects
Tu 10:00-12:50
ENV 781
Applied Spatial Statistics
Tu,Th 10:00-11:20

Bin 2: Urban Environmental Resource Management

Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 602
Ecosystems and Landscapes
M,W 8:00-9:20
ENV 608
Air Pollution and Public Health
W 10:00-11:50: 2:00-2:50
ENV 712
Water Management
Tu,Th 4:00-5:20
ENV 714
Environmental Hydrology
ENV 724
Watershed Cycles and Processes
M,W 10:00-11:20
ENV 814
Energy Systems Analysis
M,W 8:00-9:20
ENV 826
Foundations of Natural Resource Policy and Management
M 1:00-3:50
ENV 878
Climate and Society: Past to Present
Th 1:30-3:20
ENV 973
Capstone on Waste in the Urban Environment: Technology, Policy, and Management
Tu,Th 2:30-3:50

Bin 3: Land Use and the Built Environment

Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 817
Urban, Suburban, and Regional Planning Practice
W 5:00-7:50
ENV 819
Strategies for Land Conservation
Tu 2:30-5:20
ENV 820
Land Use Law and Environmental Planning
M,W 4:00-5:20
ENV 835
Seminar on Land Use Planning
W 10:00-11:20
ENV 894
Green Building: Issues and Perspectives
F 8:00-10:50
ENV 960
Climate Solutions Capstone: Nature Based Solutions Clinic
Tu,Th 3:00-4:20
ENV 971
Land Use Clinic
W 10:00-11:20
ENV 985
Capstone: Neighborhood Planning Workshop
ARCH 2021
Environmental Design
    Dyson & Keena  
ARCH 4011
Introduction to Urban Design
    Plattus & Harwell  
ARCH 4242
Introduction to Planning and Development
ARCH 4246
Introduction to Urban Studies
MGT 894
Connected Cities and Urban Ecosystems

Bin 4: Cities and Civil Society

Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 631
Poverty, Environment and Inequality
Th 1:00-3:50
ENV 759
Power, Knowledge, and the Environment: Social Science
M 9:00-11:50
ENV 788
Urban Landscapes and Geographies of Justice
O T-2:00-3:50; F (workshop) 10:00-11:50
ARCH 4247
Difference and the City
EPH 507a
Social Justice and Health Equity
Staggers-Hakim   Staggers-Hakim  
HIST 150J / HSHM 406
Healthcare for the Urban Poor
Abedin   Abedin  
MGMT 536
Urban Poverty and Economic Development
Cooney   Cooney  
MGMT 537
Inequality and Social Mobility
  Biasi   Biasi
MGMT 955
Urban Resilience: Cities in a Post-Covid19 World: From Crisis & Recovery to Reinvention & Resilience
SOCY 630
Workshop in Urban Ethnography
Anderson   Anderson  

Additional Electives

In addition to the two required courses and the four electives, students may select additional electives to complete the requirements for the MEM degree. Additional electives that may support students’ focus area in the Urban Specialization are listed below.
Course Fall 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Spring 2022
ENV 707
Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
Tu,Th 1:00-2:15
ENV 799
Sustainable Development Goals and Implementation
Tu,Th 11:35-12:50
ARCH 1239
Theory Through Objects: Political Form
Gage   Gage  
ARCH 3232
Politics of Space
McLeaod, Sutton   McLeaod, Sutton  
ARCH 4011
Introduction to Urban Design
Plattus, Harwell   Plattus, Harwell  
ARCH 4213
The City and Carbon Modernity
Iturbe   Iturbe  
ARCH 4224
Out of Date: Expired Patents and Unrealized Histories
Acciavatti   Acciavatti  
ARCH 4234
Residential Design, Development and Management
  Garvin, Salvatore   Garvin, Salvatore
ARCH 4242
Introduction to Planning and Development
Garvin   Garvin  
EMD 537
Water, Sanitation, and Global Health
Chen, Wunder   Chen, Wunder  
EPH 513
Major Health Threats: Determinants and Solutions
  Yeckel, Dubrow, Pettigrew   Yeckel, Dubrow, Pettigrew