logo UC Berkeley    Site Map
Image of GMS logo

The 21st century will be an urban century with more people around the world residing in metropolitan regions than in any other form of human settlement. This urbanization is taking place in both the global North and the global South. Its implications are widespread: from environmental challenges to entrenched patterns of segregation to new configurations of politics and social movements. The Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative is concerned with this urban condition. Bringing together numerous faculty, this multidisciplinary endeavor supports research and houses graduate and undergraduate curricula. It is one of a handful of "strategic" initiatives selected by the UC Berkeley campus to mark a new generation of scholarship and to consolidate an emerging academic field.

growing cities flyerGrowing Cities screening and dinner
Wednesday, April 2nd , 7-9 p.m.
110 Boalt Hall

(enter through the Cafe Zeb courtyard, all other doors will be locked)
This documentary follows two friends on a road trip across the country meeting urban farmers who are challenging the way we eat. The film highlights urban farmers in over 20 cities, providing a window into how people are transforming our communities.

RSVP: http://doodle.com/qe4zxwwi2v5c6nrh so we know how much dinner to get.

Support for this event comes from the Center for Global Healthy Cities, Global Metropolitan Studies, the Berkeley Food Institute, and GradFood.


economies of cities poster

The Economies of Cities: The Divergence of San Francisco and Los Angeles, 1970 to present
Michale Storper, Professor of Urban Planning, UCLA, Professor of Economic Geography, The London School of Economics
Thursday, Feb. 27, 5-7 p.m. 106 Wurster

Southern California and the Bay Area underwent a process of economic convergence in the first two thirds of the 20th century. Southern California caught up to the Bay Area in terms of real regional per capita income, while adding many more people than its northern neighbor. But with the advent of the New Economy, the Bay Area surged ahead of Southern California, generating a one-third gap in their per capita income levels by the early 21st century. This difference is descriptively due to the flourishing of the tech economy in the Bay Area. But the outcome was not foregone. Southern California had more and better technological resources than the Bay Area in the 1970s, and even well into the 1980s in certain respects. The Bay Area and Southern California, moreover, are representative of a wider phenomenon, a new Great Divergence among metropolitan regions within and between countries. Analyzing this case of just two regions, but in great detail, gives us keys about the causal process that underlie divergent economic development of metropolitan regions.

Michael Storper's research and teaching interests cover a variety of closely related topics related to economic geography and development. Specifically, he examines the forces that affect the ways an economy organizes itself in geographical space. His work spans the areas of globalization, technology, city-regions, and economic development. The latest of his many books is Keys to the City, which outlines his current five-year research project on the divergent economic development of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area economies.

Among many honors, he was elected to the British Academy in 2012, and also received the Regional Studies Association's award for overall achievement, the Sir Peter Hall Award, in the House of Commons in 2012.


Global Metropolitan Studies has been authorized to fill five new faculty positions to build a permanent educational enterprise. Three new faculty members have been hired to date; two additional positions will be filled in coming years.

Core faculty are:

  • Jason Corburn, School of Public Health and Department of City & Regional Planning
  • Joan Walker, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  • Alison Post, Department of Political Science.

Global Metropolitan Studies has more than70 faculty affiliates 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 Anthropology, Architecture, the Energy and Resources Group, Environmental Science Policy and Management, History, Public Health, and Public Policy. Faculty members with an interest in metropolitan studies are invited to participate in the initiative’s activities.


Global Metropolitan Studies offers a Designated Emphasis for doctoral students, to supplement their disciplinary degrees. The DE has two tracks, Comparative Urban Studies and Infrastructure & Environment, and includes two core courses and dozens of electives in all the disciplines represented by GMS faculty.


The research functions of the GMS initiative are located in the Global Metropolitan Studies Center, which is part of the Institute of Urban and Regional Development in the School of Environmental Design. The Global Metropolitan Studies Center serves as a conduit for faculty research grants, offers space for visiting scholars, and hosts lectures, symposia, and conferences.

Image of up arrow top

Image of GMS logo


GMS Co-Director and Professor of anthropology James Holston has won major grants from the UBS Optimus Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Carlos Slim Institute for Health

The awards support his project to develop a web and cellphone application, called Dengue Torpedo, for community-based dengue vector control.

Read more

GMS Co-Director Jason Corburn Wins United Nations Global Citizen Award

Associate Professor Jason Corburn won the United Nations Association of the East Bay's Global Citizen Award for his work improving water, sanitation and public health in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya. Read more


GMS Student Travel Grants for Presentations at Research Conferences

GMS is pleased to announce that students in the Designated Emphasis are eligible to receive a maximum of $500 per year for the presentation of their research at a conference or workshop. Please download the pdf for instructions and more information: 30-day advance notice required.


The Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative seeks proposals from affiliated faculty for seed grants that will bring a new research project to GMS , in the form of research-themed workshops, publications, and grant-writing proposals for multi-year research.. Please see the request for proposals. Applications are Due December 16.

Faculty Seed Grants for 2013 can be found here.

2013 Roundtables, Lectures

Visit the news and events page for more details.

© Center for Global Metropolitan Studies at the Institute of Urban & Regional Development, UC Berkeley