Urban Policy Initiatives

"But I want to focus for one moment this evening on the third word of our name—not 'University,' not 'Chicago,' but 'of'—because this university I have returned to lead is indeed a university of Chicago."


Robert Zimmer,
President, University of Chicago
September 2006

What is the Urban Policy Initiative

Chicago Harris launched this urban policy initiative to better understand the determinants of urban density and its consequences. These include the opportunities for increased social and economic activity, but also the challenges in transportation, governance, and residential segregation, as well as all of the attendant problems in the areas of public health, education, violence, and more.

The initiative aims to organize urban policy studies already in progress at Chicago Harris and to introduce new activities, in concert with the diverse disciplinary resources of the University. Building such a program requires both relevant faculty members and student programming.

Chicago Harris is working to expand the faculty with an emphasis on individuals whose work helps illuminate urban density and who aspire to understand explanations (and potential remedies) for the specific social problems concentrated in urban areas.

The urban policy initiative will also put new emphasis on training students to help improve urban life as policy leaders.

Why Chicago, Why Chicago Harris

The growing field of urban issues has a natural home at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago has a long tradition of research on urban issues in general and on Chicago in particular. For example, one of the most important studies on how urban environments affect human development (the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods) focused on urban Chicago and was carried out by University of Chicago faculty.

Chicago Harris has, from its inception, sought to enhance the University’s role in shaping and understanding public life by conducting policy relevant research. And many of the issues examined in research projects, classroom discussions, and community partnerships are tied to the challenges of urban life.