The Initiative on Cities (IOC) is committed to the study of urban leadership and the advancement of cities across the globe. Boston University, one of the world’s leading research institutions, is home to faculty experts in issues ranging from Law to the Environment, Engineering to Management, Cultural Studies to Medicine, and Public Health to Communications. This diversity of thought reflects the complex challenges of running a 21st century city.


Browse published works by BU faculty and students on many issues ranging from mayoral policy and challenges to the effects of our carceral system on urban and young populations. 

Menino Survey of Mayors

Read about the Menino Survey of Mayors, the only nationally representative survey of American mayors. The Menino Survey was created by the IOC to reveal the priorities, challenges, perspectives and relationships of mayors across the country as they seek to build vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive communities.

Early Stage Urban Research Awards

We make catalytic investments in diverse academic research across the Boston University community through our Early Stage Urban Research Awards. These awards advance understanding of complex urban challenges and effective policies and solutions.

Sponsored Research

We partner with academics and practitioners to solve some of cities’ most pressing urban challenges. Read about the sponsored projects we are a part of.

Leading the American City

Explore Leading the American City, a five-part video history of American mayoral leadership, governance, and power. The series features personal interviews with eight transformative mayors, who reflect on their time in office and offer insight into the job of mayor.