This fall, IE University is launching its new bachelor in Urban Studies. In order for us to know better all the characteristics and possibilities this new career offers, we have had an interview with Manuel, the Urban Studies Academic Director. Here is what he had to tell us in regards to this new bachelor..

What is the Bachelor in Urban Studies?

I’m going to answer your question with another question. Have you ever thought about why cities are so hot compared to the surrounding landscape, or why they are called islands of heat?

Have you ever wondered how cities can mitigate the negative effects of climate change? Have you ever thought about how neighborhoods are created, destroyed and revitalized? Are you concerned about housing, homelessness, or healthcare delivery? Do you think cities can implement a circular economy?

The new Bachelor in Urban Studies trains you to answer these questions about cities—on how to turn problems into opportunities.

Why is this program unique? What is our added value?

Degrees in urban studies have more than 50 years of tradition. Let’s say that these types of bachelor’s degrees are not new programs, but what is radically new is the way cities are changing our world. 

The new Bachelor in Urban Studies at IE University seeks to be part of this urban change and revolution by combining skills and insights drawn from multiple disciplines: social sciences, technology, natural science, law and policy, culture and humanities, and architecture and urban design. We’ve developed our own teaching methodology which incorporates knowledge from these disciplines to promote creativity, innovation and opportunity. 

¨The new Bachelor in Urban Studies at IE University seeks to be part of this urban change and revolution by combining skills and insights drawn from multiple disciplines.¨

Why is it more important than ever to train leaders in city-making?

Cities only occupy 2% of the planet’s surface, but they accommodate more than 50% of the population. They consume 75% of global energy, produce 80% of global CO2 emissions, and they generate more than 80% of the global GDP today. 

These numbers put cities at the center of any discussion about global warming, urbanization, progress and social justice. This is why we must train leaders in city-making to reverse the process and design cities that are more sustainable and inclusive.  

What skills will our students gain?

The Bachelor in Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary program for students who are interested in the complex issues facing cities today. The program focuses on the conceptual and analytical frameworks and specialized skills needed for professions that deal with urban change. You’ll study the city—past and present—and explore the latest trends in urban and environmental planning and policy, statistics, data science, geospatial analysis and visualization. Using a hands-on approach, you’ll work with data and new technologies to address real urban problems. 

How is the program structured?

The Bachelor in Urban Studies is structured into three components: the natural environment, the social environment, and the built environment. The integration of these three components takes place in our innovative City Lab, where you’ll undertake hands-on projects. 

In the natural environment component of the program, you’ll learn about the functioning of ecosystems and the resources our cities use. The social environment examines the structure of social groups, urban demography and city governance. And the built environment component deals with the physical aspects of cities, such as city form, buildings, streets and open spaces, with a special focus on urban design and planning. 

Why apply to this program?

You’re curious and ready to question the world around you from multiple perspectives. You want to study a truly interdisciplinary program which integrates different areas of knowledge, all with an eye on the city to promote creativity, innovation and opportunity. 

¨The Bachelor in Urban Studies gives you the opportunity to broaden your skill set and forge your own unique careerpath. ¨

What is the Center for Sustainable Cities? How can it support students?

The Center for Sustainable Cities at IE University is a research center where we work together and in close contact with companies and organizations to investigate and develop the most challenging issues about cities. 

Our work—as cities are—is extremely varied. For example, we have developed investigations about the impact of logistics in cities, about consumer behavior in terms of sustainability, and about the life cycle of products and materials along the process of an urban development. 

The Center for Sustainable Cities will build bridges between the Bachelor in Urban Studies and the professional world. It can connect the city lab with real projects, and it can offer internship opportunities, workshops or lectures to the students. 

Can you explain the learning by doing, hands-on approach?

The entire four-year program is structured around problem-based learning. Using practical examples of the real problems of cities, you´ll be able to develop your skills in our City Lab, which acts as a link between the academic and professional worlds. 

What’s more, our locations in Madrid and Segovia—with easy access to cities throughout Europe—mean we can use our cities as laboratories, allowing you to gain plenty of hands-on experience.

Using advanced technologies to gather information about aspects of the city—and through techniques such as data visualization, digital twins, AI and VR—you’ll learn to model and interpret the behavior of different city systems. The program will be continuously updated with the latest technologies, guaranteeing your skills are kept up to date.

Professional roles and career opportunities: where will our students work?

As the program is interdisciplinary, there are varied and extensive job possibilities. And since this is a fast-changing field, new roles are emerging every day. 

The Bachelor in Urban Studies gives you skills that are in demand by private companies, the public sector, NGOs and educational institutions. You will be able to work as a:

  • Consultant on urban strategy or policy
  • Community development specialist
  • Sustainability manager
  • Resource manager
  • Data visualization specialist
  • Real estate professional

You may even want to go on to a master’s degree and specialize in:

  • Real Estate Development
  • Urban Finance 
  • Mobility and Traffic Engineering
  • City Planning
  • Urban Law
  • Energy and Resource Management
  • Urban Ecology

What is the most important thing a student who is about to start this program should know? 

If you are passionate about cities, and you see connections among people and processes, even where they’re not obvious…

If you are passionate about sustainability and you want to produce a positive impact and mitigate global warming…

If you’re passionate about city life and you want to improve people’s lives…

If you’re passionate about technology and how it can help to make better cities…

This is your program.