Film | Video          Publications          Teaching          Clients          Cities          News          About


My teaching aims to encourage students of urban design, urban planning, and architecture to observe and interpret complex urban dynamics, from the nuances of neighborhoods to the spatial signifiers of inequality.

My classes combine New York City history; the theory, method, and technology of film and video; and the complex history of architecture’s encounter with global poverty and social housing over the past century.

I believe strongly that the built environment and social experience of cities are analytically inextricable, and my teaching seeks to equip students with a comprehensive and hands-on set of intellectual and representational tools to probe the interface of the social and physical.

A wide range of experiences informs my approach to teaching. These include the formal education I have enjoyed in filmmaking, urban geography, and urban planning as well as the ongoing relationships I have maintained with my students and with my mentors, each one an exceptional teacher.


+ The Built Environment of New York City, a required course for undergraduates in the BArch program at the Spitzer School of Architecture, City College, City University of New York.

+ Introduction to Urban Studies, a seminar open to undergraduates across City College aims to  expose students to the interdisciplinary study of cities and urban development. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban environments. Key themes and key debates in the history of urban studies will inform how students research and analyze the development of one particular city over the course of the semester.

+ Techniques of Urban Communication, a workshop-based seminar on documentary storytelling about urban neighborhoods for advanced ungraduates and graduates students of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design.

+ Social Justice and the Built Environment, a seminar that  surveys a range of distinct yet overlapping social justice movements and investigates their relationship to urban development and the physical city. By applying global debates to local campaigns for equity in the built environment, this seminar will view New York City as a laboratory of experiments that link activism and design.

+ Housing Justice, a seminar that frames housing justice as a distinct and interdisciplinary focus of study, introducing many of the key disciplines — including architecture and urban planning, anthropology and sociology, and political science and economics — that have advanced specific theoretical approaches to understanding housing in contexts of poverty.

+ Reading New York Urbanisms, required course for the Master of Architecture in Urban Design program at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)

+ Storytelling as / in / for Citymaking, a seminar for graduate students of graphic design and industrial design in the School of Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago

+ Informal Urbanisms, an interdisciplinary elective at Columbia GSAPP that excavates a series of episodes in the complex history of architecture and planning’s encounter with conditions of extreme poverty

+ Narrative Urbanism, an interdisciplinary elective at Columbia GSAPP that focuses on developing qualitative tools of analysis and representation, informed by a deep dive into the history of mutual influence between documentary media and urban discourse over the past century

+ Montage City, a Visual Studies workshop at Columbia GSAPP to encourage students of architecture to engage with the collection and arrangement of moving images as an exercise in interpreting the existing conditions of urban space. Read more about the first iteration of this course on Urban Omnibus here

+ Video as Site Analysis, a required three week intensive workshop as part of the core studio of the MSc in City Design & Social Science at The Cities Programme of the London School of Economics

S | Q Projects      ︎  ︎  ︎      Cassim Shepard