SPIRE Sponsorship: Human Cities Expo, Fall 2019

SPIRE was proud to support the 2019 Human Cities Expo and Human Cities Initiative, a day-long celebration taking place on December 4, 2019, at the Stanford d.school that brought together interdisciplinary perspectives on advancing a human-centered approach to cities.

An account of the 2019 Expo, including video and photos, is below:


With two-thirds of the world poised to live in cities by 2030, new approaches to urbanization at a human-scale, and one that focuses on developing social infrastructure and resilient communities, is needed. To nurture the next generation of urban leaders who can tackle these challenges, SPIRE was once again a proud sponsor of the 2019 Human Cities Expo, which took place on December 4, 2019, at the Stanford d.school.

Co-founded by Deland Chan in the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford, the Stanford Human Cities Initiative originated from the premise that we have choices about what kind of urban future we want to see. The Initiative aims 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.

The 2019 Expo featured interactive exhibits, presentations, and keynote talks from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives to advance a human city.

Presentations featured students from Deland Chan's Sustainable Cities community-based learning course where students collaborate with Bay Area NGOs and government agencies to support their sustainability efforts. Partnerships range from working with the City of Milpitas to develop equitable economic development strategies for an innovation district; to Friends of Caltrain and Seamless Bay Area to create strategies for underserved communities to access Caltrain; to working with Acterra to assess East Palo Alto community members' level of awareness and concern of climate change.

The class welcomes students from all backgrounds, from first-year to MBA students, and provides a holistic approach to sustainability rooted in the four pillars: environmental protection, economic vitality, social equity, and cultural continuity. The course was recently recognized for a Curriculum Innovation Award by the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning which recognizes undergraduate and graduate courses that prepare future planners to solve economic, social, and environmental challenges.

More than a dozen faculty and students from the Tsinghua University Department of Construction Management and the Tsinghua University Academy of Art and Design traveled from Beijing, China, to present at the Expo. Students under the direction of Professor Nan Li in the Department of Construction Management at Tsinghua University participated in a course over the 13-week fall semester, where they work closely with community partners in Beijing, including government agencies and NGOs. The students focused on a range of projects, from urban regeneration to a community seismic resilience assessment. They partnered with agencies such as the Beijing Earthquake Agency, China Center for Urban Development, and Xinjiekou Subdistrict of Beijing. Additionally, students from the Academy of Art and Design presented their interaction design projects focusing on marine plastic reduction and artificial intelligence strategies for envisioning a new urban future.

The Expo's keynote speaker was Dr. Julie Sze, Professor of American Studies at UC Davis and founding director of the Environmental Justice Project for UC Davis' John Muir Institute for the Environment. Professor Sze's talk, entitled "The How and the Now: Situating Sustainability in a Moment of Danger," focused on what we can learn from environmental justice mobilizations and movements, from protests at Standing Rock to activism in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

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]


Human Cities Expo 2019

Human Cities Expo 2019

Human Cities Expo 2019