Disciplines In The City

Some comments on disciplinarity and the city, from the assignments:


Communications Professor

This professor stated that her discipline understands the city as a place of communication. This is not merely verbal but physical and emotional as well. She has come to understand the city in a unique way because of her discipline. She now views the city as a foundation for new forms of communication. Cities tend to be the first to place in which new speaking patterns, clothing patterns, and physical expressions, all of which are forms of communications, are developed. This professor states that in communication, she tends to use many psychological methods to understand the city. Psychology and communication tend to coincide with one other. The emotional state of a person does greatly influence his communication with the rest of the world. Therefore, the discipline of psychology is extremely important in communication. The city does play a role in this professor's research. She views the city as a source to observe in order to better understand the ever changing ways and means of communication. Communication behavior is never the same one day to the next. It is always evolving and shifting. The city then becomes crucial in understanding these changes.


Radio/Television Professor

I asked my (Radio and Television Production) professor what he felt the relationship between RTV was to a city ... Previously in class we had discussed the city in terms of markets. For example, if I were to enter the field of radio and television broadcasting, I would likely view cities as markets. Everyone starts out at a small market, so early in my career I would expect to spend a great deal of time in a small city somewhere. Eventually I would hopefully work my way up to a medium sized market and later up to a large market. ... Orlando is the twentieth biggest market in America. Tampa is the fourteenth biggest, and New York is the largest media market. Already knowing this, I expected his answer to be about something related to this. What I got however, was a very interesting answer. Essentially he said that the way he thinks of the relation between radio/television production and the city is that of the news. He said that his field of study controls what everyday citizens learn about their city. It keeps them informed as to what is happening, or uninformed in other respects. This was interesting to think about. The news essentially tells us what is happening in our city, and as a result, what we think and perceive our city to be. It helps to shape our city and its image.


Public Relations Professor

[Prof. X.] stated plain and simple, "You can't do what I do without the city." He continued on to say that in his line of business, you need a population to support what you do for public relations. The public relations profession shapes ideas. "We are a communication and behavioural science," X says.

An area where a city can become a problem is how people arrange themselves, making it difficult to concentrate your communication. When this occurs, it eliminates the option of one on one communication in a big city, leaving you with a mass media approach. Some positives to working within a city are the opportunities to exercise audience segmentation. People in urban areas tend to segregate themselves according to interests, making audience segmentation easier.

When asked if his discipline used ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines he responded with, "Most original thought developed out of behavioural science." It came as a surprise that public relations is not so much a communication science anymore. Their motives are to create positive behaviour by utilizing its roots in psychology (behavior), sociology (demographics) and anthropology (culture). In a city, culture makes it easier to get thejob done and helps you to focus on what you need to do.

It turns out that public relations relies more on applied research than theoretical research. The whole profession of public relations is far more interested in behaviour than theory. ...


Public Relations Professor

In addition to what the city provides for the practice of public relations, [Prof. X] also described how the city is significant to him personally. He said that his experience with cities he has lived in have undoubtedly shaped his life. He says that cities create excitement with the diversity of interests they provide, as well as the culture that stems from the diversity of races and ethnic groups.

Specifically, [he] described his experience living in Atlanta, Georgia. When he moved to Atlanta in the late '60s, the city leaders were making a conscious effort to improve the quality of living there. He described the city leaders as wanting Atlanta to be "big" and revered by the rest of the country as a regional city that provides many opportunities for the southeast. They were taking steps to improve the job market and cultural opportunities there. [X] explained that cities can both consciously and unconsciously come into being. Some cities like Atlanta are planned out, while other cities like New York develop a rich culture and set of traditions of their own. ...

[X] said there would not be a need for public relations if cities did not exist. The city provides an economy that allows public relations to function. The city provides a multitude of clients for public relations professionals to serve. The city also provides a diversity of ethnic groups and a variety of cultures, which can create opportunities for relationships that need to be managed or conflicts that need to be resolved, which is what public relations does. Cities can also be rich with traditions that affect the decisions that businesses make, which also calls for public relations.


Sociology Professor

His studies in sociology have involved many different understandings of "the city". His initial reaction to the questions made him tell me about the beginnings of sociology at the University of Chicago which involved analysis of urban settings. They studies the different layers that make up the city. They look at how cities have evolved from commerce to have greater influence on the lives of the people inhabiting them. Sociology also examines inner-city problems that result from suburbanization.

Sociology examines social capital to understand the lives of urban dwellers. ...

His personal research involves the study of youth in the two major metropolitan areas, the Bronx and Puerto Rico. He looks at how kids get along in these urban environments as well as how poverty affects them. ...


Psychology Professor

I spoke with a psychology teacher about how her discipline understands the city. At first she said that the city is mostly the realm of sociology, but then she thought about it a little bit and began to ask herself whether psychology could have even developed apart from the city. She said that psychology originally developed from within a university out of the field of philosophy and she decided that the existence of such things was contingent upon the existence of the city.

She then began to think about behavioural psychology and said taht a lot of behavioural psychology is contingent upon the city. It's true that behavioural psychology can give advice on how parents should raise their kids but it can also give advice on how different social environments within the city affect children. ...

[Social psychology, community psychology]

I found it interesting that in the beginning she didn't really think the city was a realm of psychology, but upon further questioning and thought she began to question whether psychology could even have developed apart from teh city. I also think it is interesting that so many forms of psychology take the city, or the environment that a person lives in so seriously.

Philosophy Professor

The main question asked was, what does philosophy have to do with the city in general? Professor X began with the history of what philosophy was meant to be, which happen to tie in rather snugly with the idea of city. According to Greek philosophers, the city was necessary to enable humans to flourish. Outside of the city state or Polis humans could not hope to achieve anything close to a well-lived life. The city state as the basic unit of humanity and grand ideas deteriorates when Alexander the Great takes over half of the known world and installs the idea of empire. This sees the breakdown of what the Greeks though as the ideal environment to cultivate human virtues. The empire gives rise to rather "instrumentalized" units within the cities, everyone must do a certain job; the world is a marketplace now of bits and pieces of everything rolled into one convenient locale. In modern times this idea of empire has carried over. In developing the modern city, man has acquired (or things which we lack more likely) two distinct characteristics. The status quo calls for efficiency and purpose in all we do, little time is left for true leisure according to the modern philosophers. "It is sinful to waste time" according to Professor X. Aristotle thought that you needed leisure time to flourish; yet we seem to leave little for that now. Secondly we have a "rootlessness" to our culture. We have become more individualized and thus we can pursue our own dreams and goals, yet in having this we are somewhat isolated from out fellow man.


Humanities/Philosophy Professor

I explained the idea of "the city" as we have been using it in this course all semester, and my first question to Dr. X was how he understood this from a philosophical point of view and the relevance that it held for him personally and in the teaching of his discipline. He began his response by pointing out how closely related the study of the humanities were to that of philosophy. He continued to say that philosophical perspectives are largely based on studies into humanity and vice versa, both of which use "the city" and all that it represents as a main focal point of research and teachings.
He said that when he thinks of humanities and the world, "the city" (in the way that we define the phrase) is one of the most important aspects of his teaching. He believes that the formation, structure and/or culture of any particular area or part of the world, both now and throughout history, plays a vital role in the formation of the human psyche and has great affect on our shaping as human beings. He continued that especially in the past and in early civilization, the layouts and representations within a specific area gave way to the societies inhabiting it and laid the foundations for way of life.
When I asked if "the city" was something that he used in his research or teaching preparation he immediately answered yes. He said that when studying humanities or philosophy you are studying the human mind, and there is no way to accurately grasp hold of the development of human socialization without knowing about the place and culture where an individual is socialized. He makes many references to art, nature, space and other aspects of the city that we have discussed throughout the course. He went on to say that these were the things that shaped people through history in regards to the humanities, and that ultimately led to the birth of philosophy where people began to question humanity and ask many of the important and famous philosophical questions that got us to where we are today.
After having this discussion with Dr. X, I realized even more the reasons for studying "the city" and how much we truly are fashioned by our surroundings and by all aspects of the environment which we live. It also made me think back a little further into history. I had mainly been focusing on present day when thinking about "the city" and its relevance in today's world, but my conversation with Dr. X opened my eyes and my mind to think deeper into the topic by looking into the past. Thinking about cities in history really gave me greater perspective on the evolution of mankind and of cultures throughout the world, and knowing what cities have meant and represented not only helps to understand the past, but it also serves as a way to gain a glimpse into the future.


Humanities/Classics Professor

I first asked Dr. X of his understanding of the city through the study of humanities and whether or not there were specific ways of understanding the city through this type of study. He went on to answer that, in his type of study, he does a lot of audience analysis by distinguishing the differences between rural and urban audiences and how they perceive the world around them. He stated that urbanites often view those living under rural conditions to be "simpletons" and "red necks" that are unprogressive as they do not live under the same conditions as the city dwellers, when in fact they merely live in a way which works best for them. Dr. X goes on to state that each of these groups rely on the activities and benefits of the other, but at the same time must defend their way of life as being better, otherwise they would transmigrate. The views of each of these cities are often under analyzed and viewed as being a general stereotype of being either a cruel, harsh city or a simple, relaxed rural area. The discipline of humanities studies these cities in a way that show that these two areas are much more than the generalizations they fall under. This is so as each city of every size provides very significant aspects which reflect greatly upon the humanistic condition and interactions within the city. Next I asked Dr. X if the city had played a significant part in the way he went about his research within his discipline, and he began by saying that there had been an "anti-civilization" movement in scholarship which "condemns the city as they romanticize the rural life." Such as how the western civilization is viewed as a "history of privileged white males," therefore the scholars in his study chose to look more at the "little guy who lived in a hut and ate with wooden spoons," (his words!). He stated that the progression of humans was always noted as being the key point in civilization because that was where the "'high' art and architecture occurs." Dr. X asserted that there would be no architecture of the Acropolis to analyze and enjoy without the city, as there would be "no classical philosophy to criticize; no art to be impressed with; no politics to debate the best government for society. There'd only be reed huts, wooden spoons and oatmeal to talk about!" Very true and well put!


Humanities/Philosophy/Religious Studies

I interviewed Dr. X for this exercise. When I asked [him] about how his disciplines in religion and philosophy understand the city, he responded by saying that the city is a growth of culture, a mirror of the culture of that time. He expounded on this by saying in his discipline he incorporates the study of cities regularly since they have a direct relationship with cultures. I went on to ask him if the city or urban environment played any role in his own research. He responded by saying that the city does play a role in his research but only the older ones because in the new urban environment the sources needed for his research are not there.


English/Creative Writing Professor

During our interview he told me his point of view on the city and how his field of study views the city. As an English professor he sees the city as a text to be written about, examined. He continued with teh unique forms of people and politics work together to create communities and solve problems. Problems in the city are what a lot of his students write about. [X] brought up service learning. But he didn't know where it came from, but did not think it came from English teachers. It allows students to become engaged in what they are writing about. ...

The conversation I had with him helped me also to think about how I approach my paper. We discussed how cities are made up of subsections, and how each subsection makes a city a city. It made me think about how I should look at Warsaw on a whole and compare the divided city. Compare and contrast each side and see what makes up this city at this time. It gave me a view of my paper that I think will make it easier to approach and make it a better paper in the end. ...



Law & Paralegal Studies Professor

[X explained how] law and order came from a justic system. This justice system adds control and consistency to a city by preventing chaos. Public laws help shape the ways of public interaction, allowing for people to pursue commerce and trade. Contracts are deeply important to a city in this area of public interaction. People are able to freely enter into transactions with others that affect the citizen or the city directly.

Paralegal studies and law help us also to understand the city. In a free society, these systems allow the citizen to maximine rights in order to pursue happiness and make a living. Laws allow for this pursuit through restraint. Restraints upon a society protect the citizen and the city and enforce the rights of those citizens....

This discipline also has a lot to do with Urban Planning, in the sense that laws actually help shape the city. They keep a balance of development and construction, protect natural resources, and make sure there won't be too much smog. Laws zone sections of land for families apart from commerce zones so that there is a balance of freedom and healthy living....

Of course there are theories and methods of understanding the city within this discipline. For instance, the Case Law (also known as the Common Law method) is a litigation and precedent to give consistency to any field of work within the city.

After interviewing X, I found myself feeling quite positive about a political system that I had been rather apathetic to before. It led me to consider more deeply the impact various laws have upon the creation, development, and maintenance of a city - any city. Surely this is applied not only in modern times but in urban history around the world. ...


Economics

One question I asked an economics professor was "How does the city affect your profession and how you teach?" Her response was that a city is sort of a central hub and all things business revolve in a commerce rich environment. So this tells me that in a business field the city is important because it brings all the elements needed to create a successful business. This professor also commented on how odd it was that I was asking this question but that it got her thinking about how much the city is taken for granted. I believe that there are two ways to look at a city and in pretty much every city there are both and that is that its scary and its extreme opposite, that its beautiful and comforting. When I said this to her she agreed and siad that every city has poverty and beauty like as if she was saying they were like yin and yang like one can't exist without the othe. The reason I chose an economics professor is because business is so intertwined with the city life. The profession almost requires that you live in a highly populated area. Without the city I think business wouldn't be where it is today. Instead we would still be selling food from carts and corporations wouldn't be anywhere near as large as they exist today in the city.

Physics/Astronomy Professor

I picked my physics teacher who specializes in outer space and astronomy. I decided to keep it simple and just focus on the basics of astronomy and looking into space and that sort of thing. To begin with, the city does happen to play a role in the research of the stars and outer space. One obvious example would be that a city with more smug and pollution would make it much more difficult to view at night. So some cities, like Denver for example, would not be the most favorable places to study and do research. Also he mentioned how it's much easier to view for a higher altitude than it is from a lower one. Hence he said that smaller cities in higher altitudes make the best places for astrologers to look at the sky. Also he talked about how cities from the past used their knowledge of the constellations, moon, and the sun and so forth to build structures and make calendars. One of the more famous and most obvious examples would be Stonehenge. Forgetting the belief that aliens built it, the people used their extensive knowledge of the sky to predict very accurately the right time of the seasons for planting crops which was pivotal to their survival. Also he mentioned to how cities are almost set up like our own solar system. The city is set up with the important parts of the city (like city hall, a courthouse, etc..) in the middle with everything else revolving around the middle. This is similar to how the sun is in the middle and all the rest of the planets revolve around it.


Astronomy Professor

For the Interdisciplinary and Cities exercise I chose to interview Professor X, my astronomy professor. When I asked Professor X about how her discipline understands the city she said that astronomers must take into consideration the light pollution that is commonly founding cities. The Astronomers must work around the light pollution with more power telescopes and by locating themselves further from the extremely lit areas of the city.
Professor X also informed me that there are many organizations that have been formed with the intention of educating the public on their use of light at night, so that more accurate research performed. But unfortunately the department at UCF does not do any work with the light issue and the city.
The city as I mentioned before has a negative effect on Professor X's discipline making it difficult for their telescopes to view the night sky due to light pollution. However, The urban environment playas a large role in her research because urban areas contain lower light pollution and allow he and others in her discipline to research and explore to the best of their technological abilities.
Prior to this interview I never realized that streetlights, store lights, and traffic lights all had such a negative effect on the study of astronomy, making it very difficult for astronomers to perform their discipline in the city. So I suppose the discipline of astronomy may not have a very strong impact on the city, but the city on the other hand has a strong impact on the study of astronomy.


Math Professor

As one might imagine, the specific discipline of a finite math teacher's profession encompasses the most important evolution aspects of the city. First, mathematics in general need be consulted and must be perfectly precise in order to even toy with the idea of building a city, urban setting, or building. Finite math encompasses everything from the distance of a street to the exact measurements of each brick used to complete a wall. More specifically, finite math covers equations used in order to solve anything from gambling at a casino to various measurements of distance and speed. Finite math is everywhere. It is geometry, probability and statistics, or the mere practice of algebra. For the most part, my finite teacher has participated in research concerning how to best accommodate each student's specific learning patterns by varying teaching styles. However, the only connection with this research in reference to the city is the possible outcome of students furthering their knowledge of finite math by applying it to various professions such as architecture, engineering, mechanics etc. My teacher's profession alone is dedicated the most crucial aspect of the mere creation of building a city, math.

Architecture/Civil Engineering

To [Prof. X.], she views the city as a set of equations. She also views the city as something that needs to be developed and planned out. How can the city be designed in a way that makes it most proficient? Where humanities study the representations of a city she studies the analytic undergrounds that can be found in every city. She uses a lot of the physical sciences, physics, in order to understand the city, all the different forces, angles, and torques that can be calculated. Studying the ways that human people interact with the city. The city is a human construction and an inanimate object taht human beings interact with and in that way we can use science to understand the city and finding ways to make it more efficient. From an architecture standpoint, there is more of an emphasis on the aesthetic. The floor plan needs to be designed to be most efficient. The outside of the building is a different story; there is a need for the outside to be somewhat artistic. You have to follow the arts discipline of art and design. Though you have some freedom in designing the outside of the building you are still limited to the set rules. Most people would want the building to fit into the surroundings. Though she is not an architect by trade she talked about how an architectut is more like an artist in creating the design then handing if off to an engineer who uses his understanding of science to make the design possible.

Opthamologist/Medical Researcher

The professor I interviewed discontinued their teaching this semester in hopes of exploration for their career advances in the medical field. She is currently working at an eye surgery center institute with plans to do research in the near future. She did mention that a lot of what she observes relates with the older generations of the population which is vastly different than the majority of the population as a whole where she works. Here is what she had to say in regards to the questions I asked her.
How does your discipline understand the city? Our practice primarily targets the senior population. We see them for cataracts, macular degeneration; blepharochalasis (eye lid surgery). Are there specific or unique ways of understanding the city that have come out of your discipline? Patience & caring are the elements stressed so that the patient gets the best care.
Does your discipline use ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines? The uniqueness of the ophthalmology field dictates the way the surgeons practice. That also brings them additional patients because they are highly trusted. They are also Board Certified. Continuing education is part of the on going effort to bring the most advances to the patients.
Does anyone in your discipline, to your knowledge, engage in interdisciplinary research on the city? What form does it take? Only minor situations of observance such as patient surveys in office and by mail.
Does the city or the urban environment play any role in your own research? If so, how? I personally have no official research at the time but plan to in the near future. Many of the doctors I work with do plenty of research and many times that includes pro bono work.

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2007 Responses

Humanities

I chose to interview Dr. ABC from the humanities department. Heis my Humanistic Traditions II professor and gladly agreed to sit down and answer a few questions about the city. His answers reflected his general idea that the city was a destination for people and from these people comes art, ideas and culture. Because there is such a gathering of various cultures there is no “norm” or generally accepted ideas by the majority of society. Which is opposed to a smaller town or community where generally everyone holds the same idea. A good deal of time was spent discussing the city of San Francisco. He used this city as an example on many various points since he was lucky enough to spend a good amount of time there during his seminary training. Because of the city location and the general tolerance held by the residents it is his belief that San Francisco has become the new Alexandria of modern times, eclipsing New York City. Describing the city as a “salad bowl” instead of the usual “melting pot” in a salad the individual ingredients do not mix together and loose their taste and by keeping individual taste it only enhances the flavor of the salad as a whole. I had never heard this metaphor (the salad bowl) before but it was one that perfectly described the idea of the city.

Psychology

For this exercise I interviewed Mrs. XYZ, a psychology professor at Valencia Community College; her specialty is health psychology which is the use of psychological principles to promote health and to prevent illness.

The urban environment plays an important role for health psychology because the city influences people’s minds and feelings, and certain mental states can directly affect the body by decreasing physical immunity. Depression, for example, has been related to many risk factors for poor health including smoking, overeating, and even suicide.  Northern cities are colder during winter, sometimes to the point that people cannot go out in the streets and thus people tend to get stressed or depressed, and their health is more at risk.

Health psychology does in fact use ideas and methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines because it deals with individual behavior in a social context. They use sociology because their research is not only based on the individual’s behavior but it also includes behaviors of peers, parents, health professionals, employers, politicians, and others.

Health psychologist also try to prevent illness raise awareness, so sometimes they can also make use of ideas developed in the disciplines of medicine, education, publicity, and communication.  The social aspects of the city are helpful in understanding a person’s psychological behavior.

 

Humanities

            For this exercise, I interviewed my philosophy and religion through film professor Dr. QRP. In my class with him, I have seen several movies involving the city as a theme throughout the story or shown as a backdrop for the story. I assumed that his experiences with popular culture and philosophy would have had an extensive correlation to our topic of the semester – I was correct.

            I asked him the three suggested questions from the assignment; I felt that the questions were strong enough to provide an in-depth look at how a humanities and philosophy instructor interacts with the concept of the city. Throughout the interview, he reaffirms what I have learned from other instructors this semester, mainly that there are many ways that the city can be represented, defined, and interpreted by a culture. No one way of understanding the city as a concept can be applied by a researcher to all situations. Just as we have struggled in class to separate out humanities from philosophy, social science and anthropology, he admits that he works in an intersection of many different disciplines. His research involves popular culture and the way that people express themselves through music, art and film. It may not focus directly on the city but I know that the city plays a substantial part in the spread of the culture that he studies.

            Although he provided as much information and elaborated as much as he could I did not feel that I uncovered any new information. The recurring theme throughout this semester, as I have seen it, is that generally the humanities rather directly or indirectly involves the city in some way in most every aspect of its existence. Culture and ideas spread from person to person; the easiest and most common place for that transmission to occur is the city. That being said it would be almost impossible for someone who studies the expression of ideas not to involve the city (or the lack of a city) into their evaluation of that culture. Essentially, I am realizing that the concept that I have taken for granted for so long plays an essential role in my education and my life. I am glad to gain awareness of its importance, and to have gained another tool or lens with which to analyze my surroundings.

 

Humanities

“The city makes history interesting,” as Prof. CDE said in the interview the thought resounded in me that perhaps the city has an intense impact on aspects of history. Since his discipline is humanities, he began by introducing the derivation of the word city. He talked of how city comes the Latin meaning ‘to be civil’ which lies in direct contrast to rural areas in which people were much more concerned with staying alive. However, in the city when dealing with humanities it is an essential element. He explained that “Cities allowed for specialization do to food surplus and labor surplus, so da Vinci's and Einstiens could sit around and think of the neatest [stuff].” For understanding the city through the eyes of one studying humanities, architecture and art arose in immense measure only after the creation of the city. He provided a perspective I had not considered concerning rural life. Since rural areas left little behind to study for the humanities, the city truly was the beginning of major study for the major. Since I am majoring in humanities. The city is a foundation for everything I plan to base my future careers upon, that is an aspect I had not before considered that the interview gave me.

He explained, which was of great interest to my studies as well, the separate contributors to humanities. Certainly, the sects of philosophy and history can help but I had not thought of sociology or even psychology for helping the study of humanities. The knowledge of understanding how the mind works can help lead to a better exploration of the developments of culture, art and architecture within a group of people. Strange how time means nothing in the face of realization. After the interview, I rearranged my degree after the interview with him. I looked at possible minors and realized with only a few more classes I could receive a minor in Anthropology and am now on the track to do so. “Being ‘civilized’ enabled humans to rise from being half starved gatherers, to become farmers, architects, philosophers and merchants.” Within his area of study he finds natural areas interesting and yet due to studying humanities had found that the city makes his research interesting. As the interview concluded he explained, “the city produced and was a product of all the ingredients necessary for humans to achieve their incredible imaginations.”

 

Humanities

For my interview assignment, I chose to interview Dr. ZYX from our own Humanities department. I’ve had numerous classes with him, so it seemed a logical step to interview him. I chose to use the questions provided for the sake of simplicity. The transcript is as follows:

Me: How does your discipline understand the city? Are there specific or unique ways of understanding the city that have come out of your discipline?

Dr. ZYX: The city is one of the marks of civilization, since this derives from the Latin, “civitas”. To be “Civil” is thus to be trained in “city ethics” in contrast to rural or “pagan” ethics. Most of humanities and archaeology study and reconstruct the life of the city with its architecture and institutions rather than the rural which leaves little physical evidence behind or has little to contribute to urban history.

Me: Does your discipline use ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines? Does anyone in your discipline, to your knowledge, engage in interdisciplinary research on the city? What form does it take?

Dr. ZYX: Humanities, as the study of what humans achieve, relies on several disciplines, including sociology, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, history and philosophy. These are integrated in a chronological way to recreate what humans achieved in the past and how that changed society and culture.

Me: Does the city or the urban environment play any role in your own research? If so, how?

Dr. ZYX: While I am personally drawn to the rural and natural settings, I have always been fascinated by the city and its contribution to humanity. While the Babylonian gods detested civilization because of the noise, the city produced and was a product of all of the ingredients necessary for humans to achieve their incredible imaginations. Being “civilized” enabled humans to rise from being half starved gatherers, to become farmers, architects, philosophers and merchants. While folk, “pagan” culture has its sentimentalities to me, the city makes history interesting. And so the interview ended…

 

Biologist

I chose to interview Prof. ADG, a biology professor at Valencia Community College.  He also teaches a creativity class at VCC that explores students individual relationship with self and allows for them to take an open look at the world, themselves, and other classes.  In the words of Jim, “it is a community building course”.  Jim was a big part of my academic life while I was at VCC and I knew he would have great insight on our class and what the city is all about. 

Q: How does your discipline understand the city? 
A: From an ecological point of view.  How all the systems interrelate.  There is a system of water and its purification, air being recycled, food and waste.  Then there is a system of information. 


Q: Are there specific or unique ways of understand the city that have come out of your discipline?
A: On one level it’s about news and how to make it in the city.  From a biological point of view, it’s a contained, not closed, but contained system.  Where things go in from the outside  but it doesn’t let everything in or out.  It’s a semipermiable system.  There is an information part which is about keeping participants informed.  Informed in what they need to know to survive and to thrive.  In an ecosystem like the city, there is a survival set of systems, and different from that, in more of a creative paradigm, creative way of looking at the city; there is a self-actualization and individuation.  The survival set of systems is, in my view, ego driven.  It’s about accumulation and materialism, and keeping up appearances.  The creativity set of systems is more about letting go of materialism and realizing the agenda of the soul. 


Q: Does your discipline use ideas of methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines?
A: Yeah, we use systems that were developed in other sciences, physics and chemistry.  It all ties into the cycle of life and the city.  We also use, some of us use and more and more of us use, stuff we are learning from sociology and psychology in approaching ecosystems, such as the city.


Q: Does anyone in your discipline, to your knowledge, engage in interdisciplinary research on the city?
A: I don’t know who, but yes, indeed.  There is a whole field of environmental science that studies the city from a physical sustainability point of view. 


Q: Does the city or the urban environment play any role in your own research? If so, how?

A: My research into the biology, psychology, sociology of consciousness and awareness and creativity leads me to viewing the soul or spirit of each of us as a reflection of a collective bigger than individuals or even communities. 

 

English

I did my interview with a English professor at UCF named Prof. VWX. The first question I asked her was; how important is the city to your discipline? Her answer was its not, but then she elaborated by saying that she utilized it when she gave her student the assignment to conduct interviews.

The second questioned brought forth a lengthier response. I asked does your discipline give you a unique way of looking at the city?  From her reaction I could see she enjoyed question allot more than the previous one, as she joyfully answered that she looks at the city as essay topics and often pull out interesting topics from situations she observes in the city.

My final question was if there was something you could change about h e city of Orlando what would it be? To this she gave a very disgruntled answer.  Orlando is not a real city. Its more of a wana be city. Like an eight year old who wants to play basketball but has nowhere to do so. There is nothing to support the people in the city. The city has a wallet, but not a pulse. It’s a city that is only built for business and tourism. A city with no heart. This was a very poetic answer. I could immediately tell that she was a beautiful writer as I started to ponder if I should base my final exam topic on her response.

 

Oncologist

Because I was unable to get in touch with the professors I had intended to interview on campus I had to think out of the box. I interviewed a colleague of my fathers, Dr. BCE at the Shreveport campus of LSU about his field’s connection to the city. Dr. BCE is an oncologist researching fungal infections in cancer patients that have undergone radiation therapy and transplants.

According to Dr. BCE the main function of the city to his field of study was facilitating research by generating a broader cross section for analysis and study. To get a new drug approved by the FDA a study must be performed using a number of research facilities in several cities across the country and sometimes the world. Dr. BCE explained that if they only used one city they would get a biological slant that could lead to a slanted view of the side effects on a certain biological sphere amongst the population.

He also used the image of the city as a metaphor to aid me in understanding his research. Using the city as an example for the body he explained that when a person has undergone radiation and transplant what has essentially happened is that the police force has been severely diminished and almost entirely taken out of the equation for the purpose of protecting the city. What injures such a city, according to the doctor, is not usually assaults from outside the city walls (the skin) but the criminal elements (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that are already present and his research lies in treatments for these types of illnesses and the prevention of them taking over the city before it can recover.

It was a very interesting interview and I learned a lot from it.

 

Computer Programmer

“How does your discipline understand the city?”
  “If by discipline you mean my training, I believe that in my training as well as schooling to become a professor I was taught to understand the various people’s relationships to certain things or places in the city.  For instance my attachment to star bucks or other café’s that I can use my computer in and people watch at the same time.”

“Are there specific or unique ways of understanding the city that have come out of your discipline?”
   “I don’t know that it was entirely due to the discipline I personally experienced in the process of teaching or getting to that point, but I definitely understand the city and in some ways put human characteristics to certain things in the city  By doing this it helps me to see and remember the kind of people a particular building draws in.”

“Does your discipline use ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines?”
   “My personal disciplines deal with the understanding of the city and people in it, but it is more of a figurative city due to my main focus being the internet and Internet research.  I do know that in becoming a professor one of the things I first realized is that much of what my training and discipline helped me to think outside of the box and force my self to identify with many different people, views and opinions.  By being so diverse in these areas I am more equipped to look at things like the city, or a place and understand them in a way that might be personal to me.”

“In your knowledge, does anyone in your discipline engage in interdisciplinary research on the city?  If so, what form does it take?”
   “A gentleman that was both a peer of mine on campus, as well as team mate on a local soccer team with me comes to mind.  This guy started with an idea to research a place outdoors in downtown Orlando or Oviedo for his class to go and have access to wireless internet in order to do an assignment pertaining to whatever they were discussing.  The form this ended up taking on was basically, research of every park in the Orlando area.  It wasn’t that he couldn’t find one; it was that he went from looking for one with a possible wireless connection to finding the history of each park in the area It became almost like an obsession to him.  He wanted not only a yes or no about his original question but he began memorizing the year it was built, by who and other in that case useless information.  Needless to say it gets a little annoying if you are in the car with him ever and you pass a park….he remembers the story about each and every one.”
“Does the city or the urban environment play any role in your own research?  If so How?”
   “Yes, as I mentioned earlier, places specific to being able to market to or network with the people I need to be put in touch with tend to go to the same places in the city as I do.  That is another disciplined that is learned….learning the behaviors of certain types of people and being able to predict where they’ll go.”

 

Archeologist

The person I interviewed was Dr. H.  She was an archeologist and Museum director in Hungary before she moved to America.  Today she is a high school History teacher.  I asked her what role the city had in her experience with Archeology.  She said a lot of sites she wanted to excavate were in cities.  This posed a huge problem for us because we couldn’t very well dig up the foundations of buildings that had been there for centuries in order to find the artifacts we were searching for from the particular period we wanted.  Cities are built on top of cities which are built on top of other cities.  When a building or entire neighborhood becomes run-down and deteriorates, the inhabitants usually find it necessary to rebuild instead of restore.  Finding the traces of early settlements becomes hard when the city, such as Jerusalem, has been continually inhabited for centuries.  We were continually left to wait for accidental finds of bones or gold in so-and-so’s backyard to surface, and then permission to dig would sometimes follow.  The politics in places like Cairo would drive anyone crazy. 

 

Art History

            For this assignment I interviewed an Art History professor.  When asked the question How does your discipline understand the city? She answered that art has everything to do with its placement. Art is a reflection of the culture that made it and cultures are created and inspired by the place in which these people live. You can look at art from the same country but from different cities and you will get completely different things. For example at from Venice, Italy will typically use lots of water as inspiration for the art. Water can inspire the color, texture and reflection of the art because of the fact that Venice is a city on water. By the same token art from Tuscany, Italy usually contains warm colors and rich textures because Tuscany has a very warm and rich landscape filled with agriculture and hillside.
            When I asked her about any ideas or approaches that have come out of her discipline, being art, she said that art history doesn’t have a clear and concise idea for understanding the city because art historians tend to pull from other disciplines  in order to understand the city.  This lead to my next question which was Does your discipline use ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines? To this she answered that art historians have to pull from other disciplines in order to understand the different aspects of a particular piece. Art historians need to pull from archeology, anthropology and literature. Art historians need to use archeology in order to figure out from what region a piece of art is coming from. They often use literature as a source. If a particular piece was mentioned or described in literature then this gives an art historian much more information of that piece. Next I asked her if she ever does research on cities? She said that art historians have to research the city from which an art piece is coming from because this helps them better understand what the artists is trying to convey. Art historians need to know what was taking place in the city at that time. They need to know if an art piece came from a time of chaos or peace or war or cultural advancement because this helps them better understand the message the artist was trying to bring forward.
            Later on she went on to tell me that the main thing to remember about art historians is that they are historians. They don’t only need to know about the art but they also have to do research on everything that is taking place around the art. They have look at the religion, the politics, and the social concerns of all those in that place because ultimately that is the only way to truly understand art. I found that I learned a lot about art historians during this interview. It made me realize that art historians really need to do a lot of research about many things that on the surface may not seem to have anything to do with art but that is the only to truly see art for all that it is.

 

Film History

Q: How does your discipline understand the city? Are there specific or unique ways of understanding the city that have come out of your discipline?

A: Hollywood east had a few features, but dwindled away. Second Hollywood rotates. Cinema always an entertainment for the masses. Film is event. Urban areas it’s an accessible way to entertainment. Created for leisure time. Portrayal of city life in cinema is similar throughout different directors. Claustrophobic, cold, industrial. Microcosm mirroring gangs to political wars

Q: Does your discipline use ideas or methods to understand the city that were developed in other disciplines? Does anyone in your discipline, to your knowledge, engage in interdisciplinary research on the city? What form does it take?

A: camera = microscope. Film rolling for reason, searching for meaning in everything we see.
Dialect, costume design = fashion. Reflect all that can be see and heard. Soundtrack = music of time. Everything possible. Weather to get right days to film. Not just esthetic but also technological aspect of making a film.

Q: Does the city or the urban environment play any role in your own research? If so, how?

A: art appreciation course. Before certain political times, certain films were created. Italian neo-realism 1940s created in 1930s were expensive so only bourgeois made films, but didn’t’ portray Italy properly. “white telephone films” b/c everyone had white glamorous films although no one had. 1940s critics were funded to make films to properly represent. China, film is censored and can be banned from mainland from ever being seen

Summery:

The professor I interviewed gave some interesting answers to the questions. Being that he is a professor of film history he gave an outlook of the city as a microcosmic representation in the film industry. He described the idea that the city in a film relates such things as gangs to mirror the concept of global war. He stated that in the cinematic aspect, a similar view of the city is most always portrayed; one that is cold and industrial. Also, when asked about the cross disciplines with regards to the city, he told me that in order to properly represent a film a director or others involved in the set up of the production would have to do research in many different fields such as fashion of a certain time in order to properly represent the area portrayed all the way to modern science in order to dye the film for the right color scheme. When asked about the urban environment affecting the research he elaborated on the Italian neo-realism era in film and how it was created because the people of Italy were being misrepresented through cinema by being portrayed as wealthy instead of the poor state the actual society was in.

Philosophy

When I interviewed Dr. ABC, I did so knowing that his work has had little to do with the city.   I hoped to be able to draw out a connection though and I did.  Part of his research interest was American Pragmatism.  This connection with the city was a bit of an example of what the philosophy of pragmatism deals with.  “Imagine a city dweller getting ready to go to work.  They go to start their car and it won’t start.”  Being in the city where everything takes time “they have to diagnose and fix it immediately, they can not sit back and ponder on options or the meaning of life.”   This I thought was an interesting connection to the city.  More than a direct connection with his work Dr. ABC showed me his work in the mind and soul of the city dweller.

 

Music

For my interview I had a limited number of persons which I could choose from since I really don’t know any of my professors, so I decided to just pick someone who I knew would have a little extra time after class and wouldn’t mind a couple of quick questions.  My music appreciation teacher. 

            I started the interview by explaining how I was in humanities and was working on the theme of the city and how it intertwines with most things around us.  This was good because it led me straight to my first question about “how does your discipline understand the city”.  His answer was almost the same as what I imagined music has to do with the city.  He mainly talked about how the cities all around are constantly coming out with new styles and forms of music and so they associate particular cities with particular styles of music (if they can pinpoint where its origin really was).  He tied this into past music era’s saying how changes within the city and its inhabitants often are catalysts for a change in musical periods (baroque, renaissance, classical, etc.)

            Another question which I asked dealt with how the city affects your discipline.  To this he quickly responded that the city of today has a negative effect on the way people view classical music.  They see it as music from an olden time that was written by some crazy composer when in fact most of them were brilliant.  He added that one of the reasons most people don’t appreciate good music is that most of it is too long ( I personally think that myself, at least some of the time, since most compositions are ten to fifteen minutes minimum) and people in today’s cities don’t want to sit and listen to something that most of the time has no words.  Also he talked briefly about the fact that the variety in the city today leads to many, many different music styles which contributes to the slow disappearance of period music.

            I asked a few other questions but they either didn’t have a response (at least not that he could give) or the answer wasn’t quite pertaining to the question.  Overall, I think that the main thing I learned was that the city has some contributing factors to music appreciation but it really doesn’t have much to do with the discipline.  I think a better teacher to go to would have been a sociology teacher but maybe next time I’ll know more professors to have a better range to choose from.

 

Radio/Television

Here is what Dr. GHI from the Radio/Television Broadcast Department had to say about his discipline and the role the city plays in it:


Most of my interaction with the city focuses on students and their reporting of issues and events that relate to city government. It is expected that students would know the basics of city government (mayor, council, etc) and that there are different issues that affect different communities (crime, education, night life, commerce, business). In the past, it was relatively easy to push student reporters to become more aware of the city and its issues - they had to talk to people. With the explosion of information on the Internet, student reporters are much more likely to look at things online and use that information as opposed to talking with people who are actually involved in certain issues. It's becoming more and more difficult to get students away from the "prepared statements" and force them to actually conduct interviews with city leaders and those who live and breathe the issues and events. So, in journalism, we're finding that student reporters are becoming more disconnected from what happens in the city and how they understand the city.


Most of our work in journalism is solitary or in small groups, so the collaboration would likely be limited to students working on a specific story or series of stories. Most of the methods we use are based on standard journalistic practices; however, those are very similar to social science research: catch wind of an idea, do some background research, find out what the story is, go get answers to questions, analyze "data," come to a conclusion and present it. In our case, the presentation usually looks at both sides of a problem, rather than coming to a definitive conclusion.