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The Boston University Initiative on Cities (IOC) was co-founded in 2014 by the City of Boston’s longest-serving mayor, Tom Menino, and BU Professor of Political Science, Graham Wilson. The IOC operates as a cross-university research initiative bridging the divide between urban scholarly research and local governance, both domestically and internationally. It seeks to understand and advance the transformative urban leadership strategies and policies necessary to support cities as dynamic, inclusive centers of economic growth and positive development.

To fulfill this mission, the IOC leads the only scientifically-rigorous survey of American mayors, convenes multi-stakeholder conferences on pressing urban issues, and supports early-stage urban research in the social, natural, computational, political, and health sciences. The Initiative also provides fellowship opportunities that embed BU graduate students in mayors’ offices in the U.S. and abroad, and leads executive leadership programs on urban governance and power.


Event Recap: Assessing and Planning for Neighborhood-Based Resiliency

February 20th, 2018 in Front Page

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On February 13th, Cambridge City Councilor Craig Kelley visited the Initiative on Cities to discuss his advice and experience with the Cambridge Mayor’s Special Committee on Neighborhood-Based Resilience. His seminar, moderated by BU City Planning and Urban Affairs Director and Associate Professor of the Practice Dr. Madhu Dutta-Koehler, explored his challenges when organizing within the community and tips for other cities looking to implement similar plans.

Kelley posed the question, “what is a resilient Cambridge?” Whether solar panels, ice ladders, or sufficient prescriptions to get through an emergency, the answers varied from the neighborhood to the policy level. At resiliency meetings, Kelley tries to bring in cross sections of ages, religions, and neighborhoods and constantly thinks about who isn’t part of the discussion.

Read more about Kelley’s seminar here.

2017 Menino Survey of Mayors Reveals Top Challenges

February 6th, 2018 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized

Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, KY, and Carl Canon from Real Clear Politics.

Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, KY, and Carl Canon from Real Clear Politics.

On January 23, 2018, the Boston University Initiative on Cities announced the results of its 2017 Menino Survey of Mayors, a nationally representative survey of mayoral thoughts and challenges on today’s top issues. Three BU political science professors, Katherine Einstein, David Glick, and Maxwell Palmer, led the research by interviewing 115 mayors from 39 states this past summer. The IOC shared parts of the research at the National Press Club in Washington, DC with city officials, media, and supporters from Citi and the Rockefeller Foundation

Click here to read more about the results.

Event Recap: When Tokyo Went Electric

January 30th, 2018 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized

TokyoAt the end of the Fall 2017 semester, the Boston University Initiative on Cities co-sponsored the lecture “When Tokyo Went Electric: Electricity Theft and the Materiality of Modern Life” with Professor Ian Miller of Harvard University. Miller describes Japan’s journey to become one of the most “electrified” places on Earth through fossil fuels and the debate of energy as property.

Read more about the lecture here.

Call for Applications for IOC Visiting Scholars

January 16th, 2018 in Front Page, News, News and Events

The Initiative on Cities invites applications for its Visiting Scholars Program for academic year 2018-2019. The program offers scholars the opportunity to spend up to one year at Boston University for independent research on urban challenges and urban populations in the U.S and abroad. Successful candidates benefit from the Initiative’s programs on urban leadership and urban policies and from Boston University’s intellectual stimulating environment, while also gaining access to the university’s extensive library resources.

Learn more about the Visiting Scholars Program and apply now!

Submit Proposals for BARI Conference at BU on 4/27

January 3rd, 2018 in Front Page, News, News and Events

BARI_Lessons_Boston_for_Boston-Final-Red-256x300The BU Initiative on Cities is partnering with the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) to host their spring conference, Confronting Inequality and Economic Mobility: Data-Driven Lessons From Boston, For Boston.

We are looking for faculty, students and members of the private and public sectors to submit ideas for panels, presentations, posters and more.

The deadline for submission is January 19th by 5pm. Submit your ideas and learn more here.


Former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf Speaks at IOC

December 20th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Speaker Series, Uncategorized


Former Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf

On November 27th, former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf visited the Initiative on Cities to discuss her efforts on sustainability and innovation within London’s electricity industry. From policy interventions to private collaborations, Woolf is motivated to increase energy efficiency and decrease London’s carbon footprint. This event was co-sponsored with the Institute for Sustainable Energy.

Click here to read more about her presentation.

IOC Co-Hosts UK-International Metro Mayors’ Summit in London

December 18th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized

UK SummitOn December 4th through 6th, the Boston University Initiative on Cities co-hosted the first ever UK-International Metro Mayors’ Summit with the Centre for Cities, a UK think tank, and Citi, the global founding partner. Five mayors from the United States and six metro mayors from the UK met in small round-table groups to share practical advice on how to best benefit their cities, from economic development to social mobility. Click here to read more about the event.

Boston’s Hidden Histories

December 13th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized, Urban Seminar Series

Boston Common SignOn November 14th, three experts across biology, archeology, and American studies converged at the Initiative on Cities to present on Boston’s hidden histories, whether physically hidden under the ground or figuratively hidden from documentation. From underground subways to undocumented artifacts, their work reveals the untold stories of Boston’s unique communities.

Click here to read more about the presentations.

NLC Menino Fellow Augustine Jimenez Attends the City Summit in Charlotte

December 6th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized

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2017 – 2018 Menino Fellow Augustine Jimenez

Our 2017-2018 National League of Cities Menino Fellow, Augustine Jimenez, recently attended the NLC City Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. More than 4,000 attendees participated in hands-on workshops, learned from seminars by city leaders, and networked with other delegates in local government. Hear from Augustine about his experience here.

Guest Lecture: Richard Florida and the New Urban Crisis

December 5th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Speaker Series, Uncategorized


On November 9th, urban studies professor and theorist Richard Florida visited Boston University to lecture on his recent book, The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class-and What We Can Do About It. He explained how his personal experiences and travels gave direction to his research on geographic inequalities. 

Click here to learn more about his talk.