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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.
IOC City of Manchester Summer Fellow Maya Terhune
From the inception of its textiles industry, Manchester has been an engine of industry-led innovation, defining the city as a center of economic and institutional development. Manchester’s origin as a pioneer of development influenced its decision to devolve from national government.
With its first mayor and newly-formed Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the new Manchester city-region plans to use devolution to address some of the region’s profound problems with education, housing, and transportation.
I was involved in the development of this evidence base in my work with the GMCA this summer. My contributions to the skills and employment team were part of a larger effort to understand how GMCA could best implement change within the school system and what powers it would need to devolve in order to do this.
Learn more about Maya’s time in Manchester here.
My Summer in the Providence Department of Innovation: Using Data to Streamline City Services
IOC City of Providence Summer Fellow Yi Ding
This summer I worked as the Boston University Initiative on Cities Fellow for the City of Providence’s Department of Innovation. The Department of Innovation works with internal and external stakeholders to streamline the delivery of city services, promote public entrepreneurship, and enhance citizen engagement, to ensure Providence is a “City that Works” for its residents and customers.
I completed several interesting projects, including city data visualization analysis for the Providence Department of Inspection.
Click here to read more about Yi’s summer in Providence.
Equitable Decision Making for Boston’s Streets: My Summer as a MONUM Fellow
IOC Fellow Taylor Cain
When I applied for the summer fellowship with the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics I knew that I would be asked to do in addition to think. While daunting, this shift in orientation was also exciting and I braced myself for a summer where I might bridge my world of scholarly contemplation with my desire to directly impact the city I had come to call home. However, nothing could prepare me for the wave of anxiety I was hit with when I heard my project for the summer: creating an equity framework with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) for Vision Zero Boston. With the unveiling of my project came a sudden realization of the immense responsibility of my task, I immediately felt overwhelmed.
Click here to learn more about Taylor’s summer at MONUM.
IOC Summer Intern Lara Adekeye
Working Towards a More Resilient Boston: My Summer as an IOC ‘MORRE’ Fellow
As the Boston University Initiative on Cities and Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground Summer 2017 Fellow in the Boston Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity (MORRE), I worked with a team that pioneers Boston’s efforts to respond to and deal with catastrophes that may affect the City of Boston. When challenges arise in the city whether economic, environmental, or physical, racial inequity is a persistent factor that intersects all of these issues. The MORRE office recognizes that ensuring racial equity has to be a priority in efficiently addressing shocks and stresses for all Bostonians. Although I participated in various tasks throughout the summer, my main task was aiding the Resilience team with the completion of Boston’s first Resilience Strategy. Called ‘Resilient Boston,’ the Resilience Strategy includes the input of over 11,000 Bostonians.
Click here to read more about Lara’s summer.
Assistant Professor Katherine Levine Einstein
Assistant Professor David Glick
Lead authors of the Menino Survey of Mayors and Assistant Professors of Political Science Katherine Levine Einstein and David Glick‘s article, Cities in American Federalism: Evidence on State–Local Government Conflict from a Survey of Mayors, was published in the acclaimed Publius: The Journal of Federalism. Their article, using data from the Menino Survey of Mayors research project, explores variations in local government attitudes towards their state government. Click here to access the article.
CO2 Fertilization in an Urban Green Roof
Earth & Environment Ph.D. candidate Sarabeth Buckley will conduct a study on the impact of increased levels of CO2 on green roofs in urban areas. Specifically, Sarabeth will purposefully expose the plants on edible green roofs to increased CO2 by directing waste carbon dioxide (produced by human respiration) from the inside of buildings to the outside.
Buckley will conduct her experiments on the roof of the College of Arts & Sciences on the Boston University Charles River Campus. She will collect CO2 data from classroom CO2 monitors and use that data to determine how much carbon dioxide her green roof plants will be exposed to with the goal of determining if increased CO2 spurs positive growth on edible plants.
Research on climate change and in particular the dependence of urban communities on external sources of good inspired Buckley to find out a way in which cities can be designed to both be more sustainable and self-sufficient while addressing causes of climate change. In addition, Sarabeth hopes to work with the BU community to establish this study as part of a network of “living labs” across the University.
Celebration of Diversity Amidst Privilege: A Study of the Suburbs
Ph.D. candidate Whitney Gecker
Sociology & Social Work Ph.D. candidate Whitney Gecker will conduct an ethnographic study of young people, beginning with members of the Newton youth council. Gecker seeks to understand how young people in an affluent suburb experience and respond to racial and economic insularity, and make sense of diversity and privilege.
She will use Newton MA as a case study to explore the relationship between socio-economic segregation and the promotion of diversity in the context of youth development.
Crime and Public Housing: A General Equilibrium Analysis
Economics Ph.D. candidate Jesse Bruhn seeks to quantify the impact of ambitious public housing redevelopment projects—specifically the Plan for Transformation project in Chicago—on the distribution of criminal activity within city limits. The Plan for Transformation project was a part of the federal government’s shift in support for housing assistance in the 1970s from public housing to more market-oriented approaches such as section 8 vouchers and mixed-income communities.
Bruhn will examine existing literature through a new lens, using census-block time series variation in the sequence of public housing demolitions as well as within census-block cross-demolition variation in distance to treatment. This new analysis will create a more accurate picture of the costs and benefits of public housing revitalization. His results will also answer the following questions:
- Did the demolition of 25,000 units of high rise public housing in 1970’s Chicago increase or decrease city-wide ambient crime levels?
- To what extent did the concurrent relocation of public housing residents shift crime across neighborhood boundaries?
- How has the displacement of crime differentially impacted neighborhoods of different racial and socioeconomic composition?
Hidden Problems in Secret Corals: Exploring Microplastic Abundance in Local, Temperate Corals Along an Urban Gradient
Research Assistant Professor Randi Rotjan, Boston University
Associate Professor Juanita Urban-Rich, University of Massachusetts-Boston
Assistant Professor Koty Sharp, Roger Williams University
Associate Professor Sean Grace
Research Assistant Professor Randi Rotjan, in collaboration with Associate Professor Juanita Urban-Rich from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, Assistant Professor Koty Sharp from Rogers Williams University and Associate Professor Sean Grace from Southern Connecticut State University, will study New England coral to determine the extent and impact of microplastics and microbial biofilms.
She and her team will study the impact of these microplastics in a temperate, coastal coral along an urban gradient—in other words, along the coast of New England.
Learn more about this project here.
Ph.D. candidate Lindsey Butler
School of Public Health Ph.D. candidate Lindsey Butler will investigate the the impacts of maternal exposure to traffic related air pollution (TRAP) and extreme ambient temperatures on the risk of structural birth defects and stillbirth, particularly those resulting from placental dysfunction.
Learn more about this project here.