SPIRE Sponsorship: Human Cities Expo, Fall 2018

SPIRE was proud to support the 2018 Human Cities Expo and Human Cities Initiative, a day-long celebration taking place on December 5, 2018, at the Stanford d.school that brought together interdisciplinary perspectives on advancing a human-centered approach to cities.

An account of the 2018 Expo, including video and photos, is below:


Cities are complex and growing exponentially, posing massive challenges for the 21st-century. The Stanford Human Cities Initiative (www.humancities.org) founded in 2015, stems from the premise that we have choices about what kind of urban future we want to see. We aim to advance a human city, defined as cities that place humanity and the well-being of communities at the heart of any urban development strategy. We are a platform that encourages cross-disciplinary approaches to tackle urban challenges so that we can build a better shared urban future.

Our work advances this mission in three areas: Education— nurturing the next generation of global leaders; Research—stimulating intellectual thinking and urban innovation; and supporting a Network of public sector, non-profit, and private sector partners with academia to move the most promising ideas forward. We offer courses with a local and global focus, ranging from Sustainable Cities, which focuses on sustainability issues in the Bay Area, to the International Urbanization Seminar, where students study rapid urbanization in Asian cities through a cross-cultural exchange program with their university counterparts in Beijing and Hong Kong.

To spark dialogue about human-centered cities, one of our core efforts is to organize the annual Human Cities Expo that takes place at the Stanford d.school.

The 2018 Expo featured interactive exhibits, presentations, and keynote talks from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to advance a human city. Exhibitors included the Tech Museum of Innovation featuring a prototype of their upcoming Community Voices exhibit that allows visitors to explore stories of climate change impact in Bay Area communities through audio interviews and photography; Clarity, a Bay Area-based company that develops air sensing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to respond to air pollution; the Earth Island Institute and their Brower Youth Awards initiative in recognition of youth leadership in environmental movements, and faculty and student research projects from Tsinghua University Department of Construction Management and the Academy of Art and Design on a range of topics from sustainable transportation to seismic resilience evaluation, to visualizations of artificial intelligence analysis of vibrant alleyway communities in Beijing, China.

The first keynote speaker was Michael Germeraad, a resilience planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), who discussed the agency's initiative, Horizon, to address challenges that Bay Area residents may face through 2050 such as new technologies, rising sea levels, earthquakes, economic booms and busts, political volatility, and other external forces.

The second keynote speaker was Dr. Alex Schafran, Lecturer in Urban Geography at the University of Leeds, in conversation with Dr. Carol McKibben, Director of the Salinas History Project and Lecturer in Urban Studies at Stanford University regarding Schafran's recently published book, The Road to Resegregation: Northern California and the Failure of Politics (University of California Press, 2018). The conversation focused on newly segregated geographies of the Bay Area due to the suburbanization of poverty, the failures of regional planning, urban sprawl, and political fragmentation between middle-class white environmentalists and communities of color.

Throughout the day, over 100 students from Stanford and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China contributed exhibits and gave presentations that touched upon a range of projects in Beijing and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Students in the Sustainable Cities (http://urbanst164.stanford.edu) course presented five team projects in support of Bay Area sustainability initiatives, ranging from understanding the relationship between digital inclusion and economic development in the City of Mountain View to assessing transportation needs among low-wage workers in downtown Menlo Park. This year's class featured a partnership with Hartnell College in Salinas, California where a team of Hartnell students enrolled in a History of California class collaborated with a group of Stanford students to understand the demographic and infrastructural changes that impacted neighborhood settlement patterns in Salinas, California from the 1930s to the present.

If you missed the Human Cities Expo in person, you can still catch the highlights and videos of the talks on our Vimeo Channel:

The challenges of the 21st-century can seem immense and overwhelming to tackle. The Human Cities Initiative creates a community in which our strength lies in our pluralistic approaches and perspectives. We learned, in bringing people together at the Expo, that there is a great desire to collaborate and work together. By exposing students to both technological and humanistic approaches to cities, we nurture new possibilities for advancing the field of real estate, place-making, and the built environment.

We invite you to stay in touch about future events by subscribing to our mailing list or contact us about getting involved in our education and research efforts at [email protected]

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