Build a better shared urban future by putting people first.

Great cities foster human relationships and social inclusion. The Human Cities Initiative takes a whole systems approach to the research and practice of sustainable cities. We identify urbanization challenges at different stages of development and support human-centered technological, policy, and design strategies that address those challenges. We develop and practice ethical approaches, using frameworks that are inclusive (for many) and participatory (by many), and striving to benefit diverse human communities.

Our goal is to create a platform to share best practices, theoretical frameworks, and practical strategies to advance a human cities framework of sustainability. We nurture an interdisciplinary community of faculty, students, and community stakeholders based in mutual reciprocity and humility. We aim to embody an ethic of creativity, social commitment, and intention in the pursuit of research and real world applications.

The Human Cities Initiative is based in the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University.

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We develop new teaching methods and curricula that prepare students to tackle the greatest challenges facing cities today. Our teaching methods draw from the disciplines of engineering, social sciences, and design thinking, with a focus on experiential learning through empathetic and ethical fieldwork. We partner with faculty to develop project-based, experiential learning courses that use blended classroom techniques, involving remote collaboration and online platforms.



Many practitioners and policymakers want to  As cities around the world pilot new approaches, we seek to capture their experience by documenting best practices and creating a set of measurable guidelines for what a human city looks like. We also leverage the intellectual community at Stanford to highlight current debates in 21st-century urbanism and develop frameworks that allow students to think globally, while respecting local context and collaborating with diverse stakeholders.



We seek to make the walls between the academy and the real world more permeable, utilizing cross-cultural collaboration, research exchanges, and fellowship opportunities. By creating stronger linkages across government, non-profit organizations, and the private sector— and within the university itself— we nurture collaborations that spark innovative thinking and practical ideas. We also provide support for research, internship, and fellowship opportunities, inspiring the next generation of scholars and social innovators to generate ideas for real-world contexts.