National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version


Document Type



In: Place, Self, Community: City as Text™ in the Twenty-First Century,Edited by Bernice Braid and Sara E. Quay. National Collegiate Honors Council, 2021.


© 2021 NCHC.


Students and faculty who have designed or participated in City as Text™ (CAT) know well that every place they have explored has organized itself into areas, events, and interactions that either immediately or eventually make sense out of contradictory bits of information. This realization might be more self-evident in urban walkabouts but has bubbled up to consciousness in rural settings, forests, jungles, neighborhoods, and even a shopping mall explored at a National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference.

What lies beneath the surface, we tell our explorers, is what we want to expose to our gaze and unmask for our deeper consideration. What we suspect about “place” reveals what makes it unique: the particular contradictions that reveal themselves only if we look more carefully, critically, and sensitively at what hides them. These underlying contradictions are what we think about when we consider a constellation of CAT questions about a place: What does it feel like to live/be here? For whom/what? Under what circumstances?