UChicago hosts second annual Urban October to confront global challenges

In collaboration with UN-Habitat, initiative examines cities and post-pandemic future

This month marks the second annual Urban October at the University of Chicago, a monthlong initiative that highlights policy leaders, public officials, and leading researchers from Chicago and around the world who are confronting the most profound challenges facing global cities.

Such urban challenges have only increased in 2020. The basic infrastructure of global cities—including public transportation, densely populated office and residential districts, and overburdened public health systems—have made them especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wildfires in California have worsened air quality for millions of residents on the West Coast. A summer of public reckoning on racial justice and policing in major American cities has resulted in mass demonstrations in the streets. Meanwhile, climate change is expected to prompt population shifts in the United States and abroad, widening the gulf between the rich and the poor and accelerating urbanization.

To highlight these challenges, as well as the potential solutions, the University of Chicago Urban Network, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, organizes Urban October at UChicago, which this year includes the following events addressing the unique challenges that have faced urban areas this year. All events are free and open to the public.

  • On Oct. 5, as part of Urban America Forward’s COVID-19 Equitable Relief & Recovery webinar series, experts and policy makers discussed how cities will respond to an exodus of companies and professionals due to the pandemic, and how that will potentially compromise the diversity, tax base, and the availability of essential services from transit to public safety in urban areas. Launched by UChicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, Urban America Forward program convenes non-profit, private, public and philanthropic sector leaders, as well as urban researchers and social scientists who are committed to furthering equity in Urban America. A video of this discussion is available here.
  • On Oct. 14, the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation will host a conversation on the future of cities in a post-pandemic world, and the way design and urban planning can be used to repair the cracks and flaws that the pandemic has revealed. The discussion will feature world-renowned designer and urbanist Bruce Mau who will highlight what design is, how it is all around us in cities, and how understanding and applying design principles offers new pathways for creating fundamentally better cities.
  • On Oct. 19, as part of the annual UN World Data Forum, leaders from the Mansueto Institute will present and discuss the Million Neighborhoods Map, a groundbreaking visual tool that provides the first comprehensive look at informal settlements across Africa, helping to identify communities most in need of roads, power, water, sanitation and other infrastructure.
  • On Oct. 28, UChicago data researcher Nico Marchio will present on the state of data targeting and modeling in the 2020 election. Marchio, a former member of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, will discuss how data is used in political campaigns, how races are called, and when to expect a result in the presidential race this fall.

The University of Chicago Urban Network brings together research institutes, policy labs, centers and academic units from across the University that are working in urban science, practice and civic engagement. As leaders in urban research and policy, University of Chicago Urban Network members are confronting challenges in cities around the globe through rigorous testing and analysis, development of fundamental ideas, application of emerging technologies, and partnerships with global and community leaders.

For more information on Urban October at UChicago or the UChicago Urban Network, please contact Mary Naset at mnaset@uchicago.edu or visit urban.uchicago.edu.