defining smart cities: Visions of Urbanism for the 21st century

Urban studies and Civil & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING seminar at Stanford

Teaching Team: Deland Chan, Kincho Law, Kevin Hsu

In a rapidly urbanizing world, "the city" plays an outsize role in human development and ecological sustainability. But what does it mean for a city to be “smart”—to be “sustainable”, “resilient”, or "livable”?  Municipalities around the world are deploying innovative technologies and experimenting with diverse possibilities as we speed toward our collective urban future(s). At the same time, an ongoing debate is shifting our multidimensional understanding of cities: agglomerations of human beings, engines of economic opportunity, hallmarks of human civilization, networks of engineering and infrastructure, burgeoning civic communities—and much more.

This interdisciplinary seminar is led by faculty from Civil & Environmental Engineering and Urban Studies at Stanford University and  will explore different conceptions of cities and delve into current debates about urbanism. The goal of the seminar is to provoke vigorous discussion and to foster an understanding of cities that is at once humanistic, scientific, and ecologically sound. Each week, we will feature guest experts in topics such as big data, human-centered design, new urbanism, natural capital, infrastructure engineering, art and design, and more. We will discover how urban spaces can be shaped—for better or worse—by the complex interaction of human societies, cutting-edge technologies, and the natural environment.

Sign up for the class at Stanford Explore Courses under URBANST174 / CEE125 / CEE225.

For more information about the course, visit: