Our Approach

Cities spur almost all innovations in human societies by bringing together people, ideas, and resources.

At the Mansueto Institute, we organize our work around the fact that urban innovations have always outpaced our institutions, and the principle that the boundaries of urban theory and practice were made to be broken.

We also operate with a sense of urgency. The next fifty years will provide an unprecedented opportunity to change the form and function of the world’s cities, due to the convergence of two worldwide phenomena – urbanization and the growth in information technologies. This convergence uniquely positions cities to be the accelerators of positive change in human societies, including a broad, peer-to-peer approach to innovation towards human sustainable development.

We are seizing this opportunity to create a fundamental science of cities, based on an interdisciplinary approach that makes the most of the data and knowledge that cities embody. We believe that findings in the fields of urban sciences will enable a range of actors to make faster, smarter decisions in their own work, including policy development, program design, community engagement, social enterprise, and more. We do not create policies and programs, nor do we evaluate them. Rather, we create and disseminate knowledge that has the potential for impact when applied by those with their own expertise.


The Mansueto Institute organizes its research into the following themes, which cut across disciplines and areas of practice:

  • Neighborhoods and Human Development
  • Agency, Cognition, and Institutions
  • Innovation and Economic Growth
  • Urban Design and Architecture
  • Sustainable Cities
  • Cities in History


These themes take shape in several ways:

  • Building Interdisciplinary Urban Scholarship – the Institute takes a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to address the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly urbanized society by:
    • Recruiting world-class urban scholars and leaders to inform the Institute’s work
    • Granting competitive seed funding for urban research projects
  • An Intellectual Destination – the Institute is a central place where scholars, students, policymakers, practitioners, and visitors come together. The Institute serves as both a physical and virtual destination by establishing:
    • Conferences, convenings, and other activities on campus
    • A virtual “library” of integrated urban data and the analytic tools needed to understand and compare urban areas worldwide
  • Training the Next Generation – the Institute serves as a talent pipeline—helping to meet the demand for leaders trained with the tools needed to tackle complex urban questions by:
    • Working with schools and divisions to develop undergraduate curricula in urban science and practice
    • Creating internships and programs that prepare students at every level for leadership in urban life
    • Expanding support for graduate students and postdocs with urban interest
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