September 7, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Argonne National Laboratory and a team of academic and community leaders $25 million over five years to advance urban climate science by studying climate change effects. The grant establishes a center called the Community Research on Climate and Urban Science or CROCUS, focusing on informing communities to build resilience to future effects of climate change in the Chicago region. The Mansueto Institute will head the University of Chicago’s affiliation with the center.
August 25, 2022
More than 500 scholars from around the world came to Chicago in July for the 8th International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2), the young field’s premier gathering. The event, held at the Harper Center and co-organized by the Knowledge Lab, Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence, and the Mansueto Institute, cut across disciplinary boundaries to engage both computer and social scientists in conversations about research and technical approaches to unlock future discoveries.
July 31, 2022
Luís Bettencourt, director of the Mansueto Institute, gave a keynote at the World Cities Summit’s Science of Cities Symposium in Singapore on July 31 called “Complexity Science for Adaptive and Sustainable Cities.” The event convened international researchers, city, and industry leaders to share their scientific insights and methodologies on tackling urban challenges. Bettencourt discussed applying complexity science and an integrated systems approach as cities are confronted with interconnected challenges, such as climate change, changing demographics, aging populations, and changing local and global economic structures. The event was covered in Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper.
July 21, 2022
Various theories of criminology connect crime patterns with different levels of geography, such as the widely cited “Broken Windows” theory that posits that neighborhood-level disorder “invites” crime. A new paper published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency by Alexandra Ciomek, a postdoctoral fellow at the Mansueto Institute and Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at UChicago, and Daniel O’Brien of Northeastern University, investigates three geographic areas — specific addresses, including houses and apartment buildings; particular streets; or entire neighborhoods — to understand at which level disorder most often leads to occurring violent crime and at which level crime persists from year to year. Focusing on Boston from 2011 to 2016, Ciomek and O’Brien examined 911 and 311 data on violent crime and physical and social disorder such as graffiti, trash, loud disturbances, and landlord-tenant conflicts. They found crime followed disorder and persisted more often at addresses, while violence did reoccur on a street or in a neighborhood. Law enforcement and community leaders should focus on all levels — problem properties, hotspot streets, and community policing — when designing interventions, the authors write. Read a tweet thread about the paper.
July 19, 2022
Chris Esposito, a postdoctoral fellow at the Mansueto Institute and Knowledge Lab at UChicago, published a paper in the Journal of Economic Geography called “Cycles of Regional Growth,” looking at how cities rise as innovative centers, why they fall, and if cities can re-surge after falling. Using data from eight million patents granted to U.S.-based inventors between 1850 and 1999, Esposito describes a general process that cities undergo as they innovate. He finds that cities generally pass through a three-stage process as they grow as innovative centers, and that it is rare for cities that have declined to experience second waves of local innovative growth. Read Esposito’s tweet thread summarizing the paper.
June 8, 2022
Sabina Shaikh, director of the Program on the Global Environment at University of Chicago, a partner of the Mansueto Institute, appeared on WTTW Chicago to talk about a new study that finds Cook County has been a destination for some people moving as a result of climate change. Shaikh noted that although the region is protected from some aspects of climate change, it is vulnerable to localized flooding and heat, and has a history of deadly heatwaves, especially for those who don’t have easy access to cooling infrastructure, green space or other types of heat mitigation. “How Midwestern cities prepare for this will have a big impact on what happens, and the burden of these impacts will be greatly disproportionate unless we plan for it and pay attention to the conditions that have led to urban, environmental and health injustices,” Shaikh said.
March 22, 2022
Luís Bettencourt, director of the Mansueto Institute, co-authored a paper in Current Anthropology on how hunter-gatherer settlement patterns could have become more permanent and even evolved into cities. Unlike agrarian societies, hunter-gatherer camps are typically temporary and do not have key characteristics of cities, like density that increases with the size of a population or formal social structures. However, some hunter-gatherer societies have become denser and more permanent. In order to understand how this happens, the authors modeled a data set of 1,760 hunter-gather camps from 112 groups from all around the world. They used this model to characterize a scaling pattern that would lead to such societies becoming settled. They found these societies could have become more dense and permanent by storing food other resources, even though, unlike agrarian societies, they did not use domesticated food production.
March 10, 2022
The “Distinguished Speaker Colloquium on Biological Sciences and Climate Change” takes place on three Fridays in February and March from 12-1 PM Central Time. Speakers are Jonathan Patz, Tony J. McMichael Professor and John P. Holton Chair of Health and the Environment and Director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin at Madison on February 18 (video); Sari Kovats, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, Environments and Society at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on March 11; and Claire Kremen, Professor and President’s Excellence Chair in Biodiversity at University of British Columbia, on March 25.
Bettencourt, director of the Mansueto Institute, joined University of Chicago’s “Big Brains” podcast with Chris Williams, director of the New York office of UN Habitat, and host Paul Rand. Speaking about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Bettencourt said; “At the same time the pandemic has set back the goals of education and gender equity, as schools were disrupted and women took on increased childcare.”
Luis Bettencourt and Sabina Shaikh joined WTTW’s Chicago Tonight to discuss the future of Chicago and other cities on Oct. 5. They spoke as part of Urban October about how cities should plan for the future in the face of challenges like changing work patterns caused by the pandemic, climate change, economic inequality, and rising violence.
Dr. Sabina Shaikh, Director of UChicago’s Program on Global Environment, sat down with WTTW to discuss climate-motivated migration. Shaikh discussed the future of climate refugees–people that have been forced to migrate or displaced by acts of climate change, such as natural disasters or rising sea levels. The roots of climate migration go much deeper than just natural events, as people with less socioeconomic resources are often the most vulnerable populations to forced displacement.
U. of C. Study Offers Evidence for Lower Rates of Depression in Large U.S. Cities: 'It's Not About the Person. It's About the Environment.'
Check out a new article from the Chicago Tribune featuring Andrew Stier, Marc Berman, and Luis Bettencourt’s new study about rates of depression in urban environments. Their study creates a novel model for approaching mental health in cities that focuses on the types of networks and environments people are in rather than the people themselves.
A new article from U.S. News and World Report discusses the study from Andrew Stier, Marc Berman, and Luis Bettencourt about depression rates in cities. Researchers created a mathematical model to view mental health in urban environments through the lens of social frameworks, arguing that the dense social networks and social interactions found in urban environments help to lower depression rates.
August 15, 2021
Read our latest newsletter featuring the release of Introduction to Urban Science, a new book from Institute Director Dr. Luis Bettencourt. Additionally, check out Andrew Stier, Marc Berman, and Dr. Bettencourt’s “Lower Rates of Depression” paper in the news and learn more about new and exciting research opportunities for students with the Urban Research Corps and the Kreisman Fellowship.
Read our latest newsletter with new journal publications exploring lower depression rates in large cities, the relationship between metro-processes and neighborhood change, new low-cost solar power modeling, and growing COVID-19 rates in urban environments. Additionally, check out Mansueto’s Dr. Sabina Shaikh’s conversation with WTTW about the future of climate migration and a new pilot from Array of Things in partnership with Microsoft Urban Research addressing Chicago air quality.
Watch researcher Marc Berman interview with Fox32 about the new study from Andrew Stier, Berman, and Luis Bettencourt about rates of depression in urban areas. Berman discusses the new revelations about lower rates of depression in cities due to dense social networks and rich potential for human interaction. He also talks about their brand-new model for examining mental health within an urban framework.
Array of Things and Microsoft Research’s Urban Innovation Group recently announced a partnership with JCDecaux, a leading outdoor advertising company, to launch a pilot program to track air quality in Chicago. The team created a set of air quality sensors on 100 Chicago bus shelters, which will precisely monitor air quality throughout the city and whose data will be used to adapt environmental measures.
Marc Berman, lead of the Urban Cognition Lab, is featured in New Scientist discussing the mental health boost we get from urban green space. Berman’s research points to specific design and policy interventions cities can use to make nature more accessible and equitable, from making green spaces multipurpose to meet a variety of needs to incorporating patterns found in nature into architecture, and factoring the value of these ecosystem services benefits into economic decision-making.
A new article from The Times London features the recent study from Andrew Stier, Marc Berman, and Luis Bettencourt about lower rates of depression in cities. Researchers discovered that increasing a city population by 100 percent yields only an 85 percent increase in cases of depression. This discrepancy is most likely caused by the rich networks and potential for social interaction in dense, urban environments like cities. Read more here.
UChicago Mansueto Institute, MPC and Brookings Awarded NSF Civic Innovation Challenge Planning Grant
The University of Chicago Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, Metropolitan Planning Council and Brookings Institution were awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support research on “Overcoming Mobility Inequity with New Open-Access Tools for Analyzing Spatial Accessibility” as part of the first phase of the NSF Civic Innovation Challenge.
Trauma Interest Working Group lead and University of Chicago psychiatry professor, Candice Norcott, was on WTTW News to discuss strategies for coping with a distressing news cycle and reducing potential traumatic effects. Watch the interview to learn more.
Luis Bettencourt joins the Norman Foster Foundation’s Masterclass Series ‘On Cities,’ featuring leading experts in the fields of architecture, urbanism, economics and mobility exploring the most compelling urban topics of our time. Watch Professor Bettencourt’s lecture on the challenges of current and future cities, such as injustice and segregation, and in turn the opportunities we must seize ahead.
In a recent event during the Trauma Interest Working Group Speaker Series hosted by the Mansueto Institute, Prof. Lainie Friedman Ross of UChicago Medicine shared her research on the costs of K-12 school closures. She highlights that these costs are borne disproportionately by students, families and school personnel from vulnerable populations – many of whom rely on schools for resources other than learning. Read the highlights from this talk.
This inaugural article of the new journal npj Urban Sustainability co-authored by Luis Bettencourt gives key insights on needs in urban regional governance. Responding to the challenges of urbanization demands fresh commitments to a city–regional perspective in ways that are explicitly embedded in the Anthropocene bio- techno- and noospheres, to extend existing understanding of the city–nature nexus and regional scale.
The Center for Data and Computing received a $1.2 million grant from data.org to map and mitigate the urban digital divide. Working in partnership with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, Chicago Public Schools, civic nonprofit organization Kids First, urban solutions accelerator City Tech Collaborative, and UChicago Office of Civic Engagement, CDAC researchers will pinpoint gaps in digital infrastructure and build a toolkit to help civic organizations make informed decisions about how to narrow the digital divide.
The year 2020 will be remembered as a time when our societies were severely tested, not only in terms of health response to the pandemic, but especially our collective thinking and action on issues of equity and justice. Read a letter from our director Luis Bettencourt.
The emergence of India as an urbanized nation is one of the most significant socioeconomic and political processes of the 21st century. In this paper, authors Sahasranaman and Bettencourt analyze data from the Census of India using the framework of urban scaling to systematically characterize the relative properties of Indian urban slums.
The Chicago Maroon looks back at Urban October at the University of Chicago, where we explored—from a diversity of viewpoints—ways to respond to the challenge of creating better cities, better lives, and value for communities.
In the Chicago Tribune, check out 19 steps on how to finally start saving the planet, according to environmental experts and UChicago Program on the Global Environment Professors Sabina Shaikh and Evan Carver.
Mansueto Institute lead data scientist Nicholas Marchio was on CBS Chicago to discuss whether or not the polls got it right. (They didn’t.) Watch this video to find out what happened, and whether we can trust them in the future.
How much can we trust polls in 2020? Mansueto Institute data scientist Nicholas Marchio breaks down election forecasting and campaign data for UChicago News, explaining how good polling works and why it’s useful.
This summer, nine undergraduate students turned their environmental commitments into campus actions through the Environmental Frontiers Campus program. Students collaborated remotely with University of Chicago faculty and staff for 10 weeks researching energy and water use at the University.
Center for Spatial Data Science’s Marynia Kolak speaks on NPR’s All Things Considered about county-level hot spots of Coronavirus, particularly on spillover happening in border areas like the Mississippi River area from Memphis, Tennessee to Arkansas.
“With polling, there is always a margin of error, and that margin of error can be consequential when the races are so close such as in 2016 and in swing states like WI, MI, PA and FL.” Mansueto Institute lead data scientist Nicholas Marchio weighs in on election forecasting on WGN America’s NewsNation.
The Mansueto Institute’s Human Development Index project has been named Innovation of the Month by MetroLab Network and Government Technology magazine. Find out how we’re measuring people’s quality of life at the neighborhood level and how it intersects with the COVID-19 pandemic.
ABC 7 Chicago: Some communities where essential workers live being hit hard by COVID-19 infections and deaths
Neil Sheth, Mansueto Institute Doctoral Fellow and UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine MD-PhD candidate, joins ABC 7 Chicago’s I-TEAM report on how Chicago communities where essential workers live are being hit hard by COVID-19. Watch the full video.
The latest episode of UChicago’s “COVID 2025” video series features Luis Bettencourt, Mansueto Institute Inaugural Director, who discusses how COVID-19 will challenge and change cities in the next 5 years. Watch the video here.
New analysis from Luis Bettencourt and Urban Cognition Lab researchers Marc Berman and Andrew Stier quantifies how COVID-19 has attacked large U.S. cities at much higher rates. Although large cities are dealing with faster growing outbreaks, they may also have the socioeconomic institutions and infrastructure to respond more aggressively.
Chicago Tribune: Many cities around the globe saw cleaner air after being shut down for COVID-19. But not Chicago.
Why hasn’t air pollution in Chicago decreased at the same rate as in other major cities? As scientists test new theories, UChicago researchers plan to install additional Array of Things nodes to measure air quality around Chicago and locate “pollution hot spots.”
“How can phrases such as ‘in solidarity’ truly activate an ethics of care in all aspects of our lives?” Nicole Rosner, Mansueto Fellow, and Daniela Rosner, of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) of the University of Washington, consider how designers should reflect and adapt in the age of COVID-19. Read more in Interactions Magazine.
The Globe and Mail: Why isn’t California’s coronavirus crisis as bad as New York’s? Size doesn’t tell the whole story.
Density, decisive action and luck are all factors in why the West Coast’s outbreaks are less terrifying than the East’s so far. Read more in The Globe and Mail about Luis Bettencourt and University of Chicago colleagues’ findings on the spread of COVID-19 in cities.
Rural communities “tend to be older, with more chronic illness,” making people more at risk of severe Covid-19. A new map of confirmed cases and deaths nationwide from the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science shows a disturbing trend.
Though urban areas like New York City are getting the lion’s share of media attention for their coronavirus outbreaks, researchers at the University of Chicago Center for Spatial Data Science find there are rapidly forming hot spots across the United States, including in southern states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi.
By adjusting for population, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science have identified rural areas in several states that could be disproportionally affected by COVID-19.
Ride sharing cuts emissions, but not everyone wants to share. Mansueto Institute director Luis Bettencourt weighs in on the climate impact of ride-hailing companies in InsideClimate News.
The UN estimates that one billion people worldwide live in informal settlements, which lack adequate access to street networks. The Million Neighborhoods map analyzes city blocks in these informal neighborhoods to estimate where streets are needed to catch up with their formal counterparts.
Read more about Luis Bettencourt’s approach to studying cities as complex systems on World Resources Institute’s blog, TheCityFix, on urban sustainability and development.
Satej Soman and Cooper Nederhood, part of the Mansueto Institute’s data and research team, recently presented the Million Neighborhoods Map and their work on mapping slums and informal settlements on a global scale at Chi Hack Night to Chicago’s civic tech community. Watch the video of their presentation.
New research in Science Advances from Mansueto Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Kyoung Whan Choe and the University of Chicago’s Jalisha Jenifer and Psychology Professor Marc Berman produces the first experimental evidence linking math anxiety and math avoidance, and insights on how to break this relationship in order to increase interest and success in STEM fields.
El físico que se propuso estudiar un millón de barrios para mejorar las ciudades. Read about the Million Neighborhoods Map and Luis Bettencourt’s research in El País.
Dipak Bishwokarma has spent years helping communities in his native Nepal adapt to climate change. Along the way—working with local residents, non-profits and government agencies—the University of Chicago graduate student learned that doing so requires more than just a technical understanding of the environmental impacts. He shared more at the Global Symposium on Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods.
The year 2019 marks the end of our second annual cycle: It was a busy year, characterized by fast growth and development. In the spirit of a new decade of progress and possibilities, here’s a countdown of memorable moments at the Mansueto Institute this past year.
What was it like to research urbanization on the Galápagos this summer? UChicago College website features our undergraduate student researchers in this great article. Partnering with Mapillary, the team captured street-level images to gather data on urbanization and sustainable development on the islands.
A cohort of four University of Chicago undergraduate research assistants and faculty advisors will embark on the second annual Galápagos Urbanization & Sustainable Development study. The 6-week research study, led jointly by the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and the Program on the Global Environment (PGE), will explore evolution of the built environment and resource consumption on the Galápagos Islands. Read more.
The project aims to map the whole world – eventually – and become a tool for better city planning as mayors decide which areas most need sewers, roads and other basics. Read more in this article by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The 2019 Global Sustainability Summer School is an intensive two-week program on urban sustainability and technological innovations driving global, sustainable development. Hosted at the Santa Fe Institute in partnership with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the program provides an immersive experience for participants to explore interdisciplinary and forward-looking approaches to urban sustainability.
Around the world, informal settlements stem from all sorts of social and economic ills that don’t have easy solutions. But, these communities share a common trait: a lack of connectivity. Luis Bettencourt and a group of research partners have been exploring that as a math problem, and developing new tools that use topology to improve conditions in these urban areas. Read this PNAS article for more.
What’s the mathematical model behind our streets and neighborhoods? Is it possible to create the topology of a universally accessible city? Read more in Luis Bettencourt, Christa Breslford and Taylor Martin’s latest article in SIAM News, the journal for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Luis Bettencourt was appointed this year’s mentor for the On Cities Workshop organized by the Norman Foster Foundation in Madrid, Spain, held May 27 – 31, 2019. The Foundation hosted the On Cities Public Debates, chaired by Luis Bettencourt, where speakers from architecture and urban planning discussed issues surrounding informal settlements in urban contexts and the possibilities for transformation offered by technological innovation.
Bettencourt and Sahasranaman attempt the first detailed analysis of Indian cities as complex systems
In a world of rapid urbanization and population growth, India stands at the forefront of urban and population growth. In this paper, “Urban geography and scaling of contemporary Indian cities”, Luis Bettencourt and Anand Sahasranaman set forth the first detailed analysis of Indian cities as complex systems, bringing together under a common framework a quantitative and comprehensive assessment of urban attributes.
Do flight delays pose an economic burden alone on airlines, or is there a larger social and urban cost involved?
Luis Bettencourt discusses how flight delays have unforeseen effects on the influence, logistics, and economies of large cities in this article by Wired Magazine.
Nearly a century ago, Robert E. Park and Ernest Burgess co-authored what was to become a seminal text for the Chicago school of sociology. The City cemented both scholars as pioneers in the field and formalized a methodological, data-driven approach that has shaped the study of cities across space and time. Learn more about its impact on contemporary scholars and continuing relevance in a rapidly urbanizing world.
How is physics – a field that generated foundational discoveries in antiquity that are still evolving today – driving modern innovation? Luis Bettencourt discusses beginning his academic career in the study of physics, and how it now helps him to think about cities in a distinct way.
Mansueto Institute researchers spent the summer in the Galapagos studying how human development can be sustainably managed to coexist with the environment. Over the course of four weeks, our team gathered drone and satellite imagery to create 3D topographical models of one of the largest towns in the Islands. Analyzing this data and changes over time may inform sustainable development practices in the Galapagos and beyond. Read more and watch the video.
Watch the video from our fall Urban Innovations event, which brought together Nicholas Negroponte and Carol Coletta to discuss innovative solutions to pressing issues faced by cities around the world. With moderation by Luis Bettencourt, the panelists explored technological advances, community-oriented interventions, and where the two can be integrated to achieve common goals.
The Mansueto Institute is partnering with the Santa Fe Institute to sponsor the 2019 Global Sustainability Summer School, an intensive two-week program on issues of urban sustainability and technological innovations driving global, sustainable development. The school is for participants who seek background and hands-on experience to help them prepare to conduct interdisciplinary research in areas related to urban sustainability. Learn more and apply today.
Check out the Forbes coverage of Luis Bettencourt’s participation in research analyzing community maps, satellite imagery and municipal data from a dozen cities to create a general new tool for urban planning. The study identifies key properties of street networks in order to develop the most efficient ways to build roads and water, gas and sanitation infrastructure in existing slums to quickly improve the quality of life for underserved residents.
Of the estimated 4 billion people living in urban areas worldwide, nearly a billion reside in slums. A coalition of researchers analyzed community maps, satellite imagery and municipal data from a dozen cities to create a general new tool for urban planning. The resulting study identifies key properties of street networks in order to develop the most efficient ways to build roads and water, gas and sanitation infrastructure in existing slums to quickly improve the quality of life for underserved residents.
Jein Park, class of 2020, founded the UChicago Urbanists in Fall 2017 with the goal of creating a dedicated space for undergraduates to engage in conversations about urbanism and cities. Lean more about how this student group is exchanging perspectives on vital issues that face cities today, ranging across urban worker populations all the way to neighborhood crime.
Array of Things researchers worked with students from Lane Technical College Prep High School on building, programming and deploying their own sensor “nodes,” gaining hands-on experience with technologies that helps scientists better understand cities
Over the summer, Juval Portugali, a leading researcher in adapting complexity theory to the study of cities, joined the Mansueto Institute to give a lecture on cognition, information, and the city. Read the insightful reflections from UChicago faculty who attended, and a recap of big ideas Professor Portugali shared.
Part of the Mansueto Institute’s Urban Innovations Series, watch the dynamic discussion between First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray and Institute of Politics Fellow Dr. Nneka Jones-Tapia on the challenges that face incarcerated women, and the innovative solutions in New York and Chicago.
Luis Bettencourt joins host Bradley Tusk to discuss cities as their own type of technology, bringing people together to interact, collaborate, and produce collectively, and repeat on a fast daily rhythm.
Luis Bettencourt joined global city, technology and venture capital leaders to share innovative ideas that lay the groundwork for cities and technology companies to better collaborate in the future.
New Gift from David and Susan Kreisman Will Support Expansion of Kreisman Initiative for Housing Law and Policy
Thanks to a $5 million gift from David Kreisman, AB ’60, JD ’63, and his wife, Susan, the University of Chicago’s Kreisman Initiative for Housing Law and Policy will expand to include new programs aimed at advancing housing scholarship.
Imagine a future where human prosperity does not translate into sacrificing nature. A world with no wastes, no pollution, where animals and plants on land and in the oceans prosper from the existence of humans as much as we do from the biology and geophysics of the Earth. Is this impossible? Or must life on Earth be a zero-sum game between humanity and other species?
World Urban Forum 9 convened earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to take the measure of our fast-urbanizing world. Central to all discussions was how to create human sustainable development worldwide through better cities as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. At this point, the problem of implementing the goals is not if but how? Let’s do the math: This will reveal the kind of framework necessary.