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Urban October at University of Chicago to Focus on Urgent Challenges Facing Global Cities

10/9/2019, noon | Updated on 10/9/2019, noon

Urban October at University of Chicago to Focus on Urgent Challenges Facing Global Cities

The University of Chicago is preparing to host Urban October at UChicago in collaboration with UN-Habitat. The month-long initiative brings together policy leaders, public officials, community members, and leading researchers from Chicago and around the world to focus on some of the most profound challenges facing global cities.

Today, 4.3 billion people live in urban areas. That number is projected to expand to 5.1 billion within 10 years and 6.6 billion within 30 years. Already challenging urban issues are exacerbated by climate change contributing to extreme weather and water shortages; pollution impacting health and life expectancy; and violence and political instability threatening the futures of cities around the world.

Urban October at UChicago is an initiative of the University of Chicago Urban Network — research institutes, policy labs, centers, and academic units at the university focused on pioneering urban science and practice. Week by week, university scholars will convene key stakeholders and present new research and collaborations that will confront global urban challenges and identify emerging opportunities.

The University of Chicago will tackle these topics and more through the following key events:

l On October 15, the University of Chicago Crime Lab marks its 10th anniversary and looks to the future with THE NEXT TEN, a gathering that includes a conversation with government and non-profit leaders, including Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson, and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson. Crime Lab has been at the vanguard of a model of collaborative social science research focused on solving the most pressing policy problems in cities by working in partnership with policymakers and practitioners.

l On October 23-25, officials from the United Nations, as well as leaders and community organizers from Africa, Europe and Latin America, will gather at the University of Chicago for the Global Symposium on Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods. Hosted by the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and led by ecology and evolution professor Luis Bettencourt, the symposium will help set a shared agenda toward empowering millions of neighborhoods to tackle such issues as human development, infrastructure, and climate resilience.

l The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI)®, created by economics professor Michael Greenstone and the Energy Policy Institute at UChicago, marks its first anniversary in measuring the impact of particulate air pollution on life expectancy at a local scale. The Index finds that particulate air pollution is the single greatest threat to human health globally—making it of critical importance as heating season begins in many of the world’s largest cities.

“We set up the Crime Lab 10 years ago to work closely with government and non-profits to generate more actionable research and development on the most pressing criminal justice and education challenges of our time,” said Jens Ludwig, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at Harris Public Policy and director of the Crime Lab. “We’ve seen signs of progress, but there’s the potential – and the need – to do much more.”

The Urban October concept was created by the UN and is part of an annual October initiative wherein UN-Habitat organizes activities and events on urban issues and sustainable development, marked by World Habitat Day on October 7 and World Cities Day on October 31.