Faculty Friday: Kevin Gallagher

Faculty Friday is a series highlighting members of the Initiative on Cities (IOC) Faculty Advisory Board, by exploring their work on campus and in the city. This week, we are highlighting Kevin Gallagher, Professor of Global Development Policy at the Boston University Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies and the Director of the Global Development Policy Center. 

By Diya Ashtakala 

Diya Ashtakala: Tell me about yourself and what you are currently working on.

Kevin Gallagher: I’m a professor at BU’s Pardee School of Global Studies and I direct one of the other BU-wide centers, the Global Development Policy (GDP) Center. Our mission is to advance policy-oriented research on financial stability, human wellbeing, and environmental sustainability across the globe. The GDP Center is about to complete its fifth year of activity and we have been working on taking stock of our first five years and thinking about the next!

What do you think are the biggest challenges faced by cities, and how do you think cities should address them?

Kevin Gallagher
Kevin Gallagher
Professor of Global Development Policy; Director, Global Development Policy Center

In advanced economies to me, the biggest challenge is replacing the capital stock in a manner that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Replacing energy systems and transportations systems, reworking public spaces for connectivity and inclusiveness. For some developing economies, the challenge is the same, but for others it is building new cities that leapfrog the cities built for 19th and 20th century societies and start from scratch with an eye on a more green and inclusive future.

What do you think the future of cities will look like? 

I have no crystal ball but the three things that concern me the most are financial instability, inequality, and environmental degradation. Unfortunately, many cities are manifestations of all three. My hope is that we can rebuild our urban centers to be resilient and inclusive.

How can students become more engaged with cities and play a role in addressing issues? 

Our students here at BU have the privilege to be living in Boston, the Hub of the Universe! With privilege comes responsibility. Students can get involved at the IOC of course! In many ways getting involved in cultural life is among the most important — in theater, parks and recreation, music, sports, and beyond. That aspect of civil life is what brings people together to forge commonality and feel our differences.

If you were the Mayor of Boston and had unlimited resources, what program or project would you pursue and why? 

I would replace our transportation systems with zero carbon transit, rework public spaces, invest heavily in education and health services, as well as art and culture.

What do you love about Boston? 

I am an absolutely avid Boston Celtics fan. The C’s have won more championships than any team in the history of Boston. Bill Russell was the greatest basketball player of all time, and we will soon with our 18th championship. I can feel it!