World Cities as an Inter-disciplinary Concept

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Baruch Kipnis and Igal Charney, University of Haifa, Department of Geography (Instructors)
Ora Zehavi, Head of MESILA Team (library support center for remote, computer aided learning), The Haifa University Library (Information specialist).

Spring 2002

The world city concept has developed since the seminal work of John Friedmann to embrace multiple aspects related to world-city research. This course on world cities aims at examining the various attributes of world cities and their relevance to different disciplines, primarily in the social sciences. Although based in the geography department, it is planned as a multi-disciplinary course. Accordingly, it is opened to graduate students in the faculties of Social Sciences (Geography, Economics, Business Administration, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology and Communications). It is also opened to advanced students from the faculties of Law and of Welfare and Health Sciences.

The focus of the course will be on two levels. On the one hand, the functioning of a world city as a distinct region characterized by social, economic and functional heterogeneity; a hub of economic control - - the command and control post of multinational firms; a financial center reaching far beyond national markets; and a large urban center playing a pivotal role as a center of high-order producer services. In addition, a world city reveals a polarized social structure, both in economic and social terms. On the other hand, a world city is a part of a network of world cities. Currently, there are more than 100 cities that have a possessed a status of a world city or of a would be world city in evolution.

Teaching method

This is a pilot course that is entirely based on an e-learning environment employed at the University of Haifa, using the High Learn software. Except for the first and last meeting, all the course assignments and reports would be posted on the course designated website. The prime reading source would be the World City Group Study Group’s (GAWC) website Using this site and its links will allow the student to obtain the necessary readings and material. The role of the information scientist will be to assist the student in his/her search of relevant bibliography and in making appropriate use of the Internet.

The course High-Learn website which will be launched in March 2002. It will include messages and assignments, as well as a mean for communication between the students and the instructors and the information specialist, as well as between the students themselves. The site will allow the creation of coalitions, and creation chat forums between students from different areas of specialty that reveal similar areas of interest. In addition, regular office hours will be posted, in which professors, the information specialist and the students would be able to communicate.

The course will have several modules; each student is encouraged to deepen her/his knowledge in their particular area of interest.

Reading material

Most of the reading material will be posted on the course website. Students are encouraged to use the GaWC website.


World cities, global cities, mega cities, network cities, producer services, globalization, financial centers, transnational/multinational corporations, law firms, advertising firms.