Areas of Impact

Economic Development

Public Health

Public Safety

Education

Environmental Sustainability

Equity

Economic Development

From the Mansueto Institute’s “Million Neighborhoods Map” Project—detailing how critical infrastructure could bring slums around the world onto a grid—to the Office of Civic Engagement’s Community Programs Accelerator—incubating non-profit organizations on Chicago’s South Side— University of Chicago scholars and practitioners touch every aspect of urban economic development. The Harris School of Public Policy is home to the nation’s leading scholars in municipal finance, the University of Chicago Law school leads interdisciplinary work on housing accessibility and affordability, and professors across campus produce ground-breaking research and thought leadesrship on how to build systems that promote more equitable economic outcomes for city residents in Chicago, nationwide and globally.

Public Health

As health care challenges grow in cities globally, there has never been a greater need for data-driven analyses of critical issues like social determinants of health, policy frameworks aimed at solving the accessibility and affordability divide and real-world examples of how urban stakeholders—including hospital systems, governments and non-profits—can come together to improve health care delivery in underserved communities. Between the University of Chicago Medicine’s Urban Health Initiative, the health system’s community bridge to the South Side, and scholars at the School of Social Service Administration, Harris School of Public Policy and the Center for Spatial Data Science, scholars and practitioners within the Urban Network are leading experts in the field of public health. The University is home to leading experts who specialize in some of the most important topics of the day, from the impacts of Medicaid expansion and health insurance coverage to public health crises, such as opioid addiction, gun violence and global pandemics.

Public Safety

Policing and criminal justice systems, along with violence prevention strategies, are at the forefront of conversation on how to make cities more livable and equitable for all who live there. The University of Chicago is investing resources in scholarship and programs to help produce not just best-in-class thinking on public safety measures but also a body of work in the community that shows how data-driven, neighborhood-based initiatives can work to bridge the gaps between government entities and residents to improve quality of life. For more than a decade, the UChicago Urban Labs have been at the forefront of providing the data, resources and infrastructure necessary to help civic partners identify, test and scale policies and programs to improve urban life. Scholars at the School of Social Service Administration investigate the impacts of the school-to-prison pipeline and lead the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention. And the University of Chicago School of Law runs the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, training students to consider the effects of legal institutions on the poor while serving as advocates to those clients typically denied access to justice.

Education

Disparities in educational access and attainment are key drivers of urban inequality. And how cities design public education — from the municipal taxation systems that fund public schools to how curricula are built to meet the needs of every student — creates vastly different outcomes by zip code. At the University of Chicago, the Urban Education Institute (UEI), comprised of four units including the Urban Teacher Education Program, is a leading hub for educational research and practice and at the forefront of transforming public education, especially in Chicago. Scholars at the School of Social Service Administration, the academic home of UEI, produce educational research that helps schools systems, non-profits and cities nationwide improve upon educational best practices and produce more equitable outcomes for all students. Finally, municipal finance scholars at Harris explore how tax dollars are levied and allocated and the impact that has on urban systems, including public schools.

Environmental Sustainability

Climate change is dramatically affecting cities, how they operate and the health of the people who reside within them. From coastal cities facing the prospects of erosion to government entities embracing emissions goals and transportation infrastructure systems being reimagined and rebuilt for a more sustainable future, environmental research and policies are at the core of more sustainable, equitable urban development. The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago produces data-driven research to advance global understanding of worldwide energy challenges and trains the next generation of global energy leaders. While the Program on the Global Environment, in partnership with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, run the Environmental Frontiers program, bringing together faculty, students and staff to confront some of the most pressing climate challenges of today and tomorrow.

Equity

Ideas-driven urban research and immersive practice are built on the foundation of equity, and the key question of how to produce improved outcomes in cities—starting with Chicago and spanning the globe—that make urban environments more livable for all residents. As urbanization of global populations proceeds at a rapid pace, disparities grow between neighborhoods in access to the same services that make urban environments attractive places to live. Every UChicago Urban Network member—from Arts+Public Life to the Office of Civic Engagement to UChicago Medicine—are focused on developing programs and research grounded in the principal of equity, both creating more access for South Side residents and generating the ideas that can power change in cities across America and globally.