This reading seminar examines the economic, social, and political forces that shape urban development, including explanations for the size, location, and functioning, of cities and their metropolitan regions. The course draws on an interdisciplinary and constantly evolving body of knowledge that observes and interprets the form and function of human settlements. These theories are indispensable for understanding the origins of cities, the persistence of urban and regional spatial patterns, the distinctive nature of urban problems, and the importance of tracing the source of urban challenges to larger metropolitan dynamics. The course explains why cities exist, why some are big and some are small, why some are specialized, and how they are interrelated in a linked network of cities. We look at several key issues of critical importance to urban planners from the perspective of social justice and sustainability, including racial segregation, urban sprawl, regional governance, poverty, the delivery of services, and how environmental problems are related to social problems. A central theme of the course is to identify how social relations affect social inequality and environmental degradation, and to examine how a more engaged citizenship can contribute to better urban development.