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We seek to promote and advance the adaptive urban leadership strategies necessary to support cities as dynamic centers of economic growth and development in the 21st century.

Founded by a proven urban leader, the late former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and a highly regarded academic, Professor Graham Wilson, the Initiative on Cities serves as a bridge between world-class academic research and the real-life practice of city governance.


Meet Our 2017 Summer Fellows

March 28th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized

We’re proud to share that this summer, we’ll be funding three IOC Summer Fellows, one in the City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics,  another in the City of Providence’s Mayor’s Innovation Department, and another in New Economy Manchester in the City of Manchester, England.


Taylor Cain
Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology


Yi Ding
Masters Candidate in City Planning

Maya Terhune

Maya Terhune
Senior Undergraduate, Mathematics & Economics

Click here to find out more about our three outstanding fellows!

Watch Live: Cities & Kids

March 6th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events

Cities and kids banner

More than 80% of American youth live in urban areas. And each day, children who live, play and go to school in cities are shaped by their built, natural and social environments. How do cities help some of their most vulnerable residents – children – achieve their full development potential? What innovative interventions, beyond those offered in school settings, are being deployed today to close outcome gaps? Click here for a livestream video feed of Cities & Kids, beginning at 8:30am on Thursday March 23rd. 

Upcoming Lecture: Universities and Their Cities

March 2nd, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events

Diner Book CoverNEW DATE DUE TO SNOW: Join us on Wednesday March 29th, 5pm-6:30pm, for a lecture by Rutgers Professor Steven Diner exploring his new book on the roots of American colleges’ traditional rural bias. Why were so many people uncomfortable with nonresident students? How were urban universities influenced by their cities? And how did much-maligned urban universities go on to shape contemporary higher education? Click here to learn more and RSVP.

Applications Open for IOC Spring 2017 RFP

February 28th, 2017 in Front Page, News, Research Awards

The Initiative on Cities (IOC) is pleased to announce its Spring 2017 Request for Proposals for our Early Stage Urban Research Awards. These seed grants support research addressing urban challenges and urban populations in the U.S and abroad.

The Awards are open to all Boston University Schools, and interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged.  Successful proposals will receive seed funding of up to $10,000.

Click here to learn more about our RFP process and submit your application. Explore past recipients here. Please direct all questions to Patricia Cahill.

New Publication: Youth Participatory Budgeting

February 22nd, 2017 in Affiliated Faculty list, Front Page, News

The IOC is pleased to announce a second paper published by the Boston University team of researchers exploring youth participatory budgeting.

Their analysis is part of a broader study examining the scope, structure and functioning of 24 youth councils in the Boston-metro area. Among their findings, authors concluded that youth-led participatory budgeting has potential for engaging youth in governmental decision-making while addressing barriers to youth civic engagement.

View the full article from the Children and Youth Services Review here.

This paper was authored by Astraea Augsberger, Assistant Professor at the BU SSW; Mary Collins, Associate Dean and Professor at the BU SSW; Whitney Gecker, Doctoral Student at the BU SSW; Katharine Lusk, Executive Director of the BU Initiative on Cities; and Qianqian Jane Zhao, student at the BU SSW.

IOC Sponsored Research Published with UN-HCR

February 22nd, 2017 in Affiliated Faculty list, Front Page, News, News and Events, Research Awards


Vicky Kelberer

The Initiative on Cities is delighted to share The Work Permit Initiative for Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Implications for Policy and Practice, a research and policy report by Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies Masters Candidate Vicky Kelberer.

In conjunction with the Boston Consortium on Arab Region Studies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kelberer conducted on-site research on work permit programs specifically aimed at formally employing Syrian refugees in Jordan. Her report delivers a snapshot of the current economic, legal, and institutional environment surrounding the work permit initiative, and identifies obstacles to its implementation, nearly one year following its inception.

With Assistant Professor of International Relations Noora Lori, Kelberer was a recipient of a 2016 IOC Urban Research Award, which allowed her and Lori to travel to Jordan to conduct research for their project evaluating the livelihoods of Syrian refugees in the country. Explore our Research in Progress tab to learn more about their ongoing research.

BU’s Contributions to Boston’s Climate Initiatives

February 13th, 2017 in Affiliated Faculty list, Front Page, News, News and Events

Boston University has played a critical role in contributing to two of Boston’s signature climate initiatives: Climate Ready Boston and the Boston Climate Action Plan. The Boston University Initiative on Cities, the Institute for Sustainable Energy, the Pardee Center, and sustainability@BU co-hosted a discussion of these contributions on Wednesday February 22nd. Event recap coming soon. 

Menino Authors Publish Research from Survey Data

February 9th, 2017 in Affiliated Faculty list, Front Page, News, News and Events, Uncategorized


Assistant Professor Katherine Levine Einstein

D Glick Headshot

Assistant Professor David Glick

Authors of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Menino Survey of Mayors, Boston University Political Science Assistant Professors Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick, recently published research from their interviews with over 70 American mayors in the acclaimed journal, Urban Affairs Review. Their article, Mayors, Partisanship, and Redistribution: Evidence Directly from U.S. Mayors, explores the relationship between national and local politics.

Access the full article here.

Over the three iterations of the Menino Survey, Assistant Professors Einstein and Glick have conducted almost three hundred interviews with sitting mayors. In addition to publishing their complete findings in a Survey Report each year, Einstein and Glick have used the data collected to delve further into mayors’ responses and explore new research topics.

Click here to find additional articles based on Menino Survey of Mayors research.

New Publication: Boston’s Youth Participatory Budgeting

January 25th, 2017 in Affiliated Faculty list, Front Page, News, Uncategorized

Youth Lead the Change_Report 1In 2013, Boston became the first city to create a youth-led participatory budgeting process. Now in its third year, Boston’s Participatory Budgeting Project engages over 2,000 Boston youth ages 12-25 to determine how to spend one million dollars of the city’s capital budget.

The Initiative on Cities is thrilled to publish Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting, wherein authors evaluated Boston’s initiative, both to illustrate its successes and identify areas where it can grow and adapt to the city’s needs. 

Click here to access the Youth Lead the Change: Participatory Budgeting Report.

The paper was authored by Astraea Augsberger, Assistant Professor in the Boston University School of Social Work (SSW); Mary Collins, Associate Dean and Professor at the BU SSW; Whitney Gecker, Doctoral Student at the BU SSW; Katharine Lusk, Executive Director of the BU Initiative on Cities; and Meaghan Dougher, Research Assistant at the BU SSW.

2016 Menino Survey of Mayors Launch

January 9th, 2017 in Front Page, News, News and Events

The Initiative on Cities officially released the 2016 Menino Survey of Mayors Final Report and Key Findings on Tuesday January 10th with a special presentation at the Rockefeller Foundation headquarters in New York City.

Couldn’t make it to the launch event? You can rewatch the remarks and presentation by clicking here.

We’d like to thank Citi for their tremendous support of the Menino Survey of Mayors project, the 102 mayors we had the opportunity to interview, and our research team for another outstanding year.