Cities and Our Urbanizing World


July 31-August 3, 2017

More people are living in or moving to cities than ever before. As of 2014, 54% of people worldwide lived in cities, an increase of nearly 20% from 1950. This number is only expected to increase in the future, with estimates that ⅔ of the world’s population will be living in urban communities by 2050.* This migration from the rural to the urban presents challenges and opportunities that require the participation of individuals, communities, organizations, businesses, and governments (local, national, and multinational). The goal of the 2017 summer workshop for educators will be to investigate and make sense of these challenges and opportunities as a learning community and consider how best to communicate them to our students.

Throughout this workshop we explored the multiple definitions and perceptions of cities, the origins of those varied perspectives and experiences, and how they interact with global forces (economic, political, cultural, social, etc.) Recognizing that urbanization is a process that not only affects cities but also rural and suburban areas, we studied their relationships to the city.  We focused on urbanization as a phenomenon within our culture, but also cultures worldwide. 

As a learning community we paid special attention to investigating both the benefits and costs of urbanization. We examined how and why urbanization affects different groups and people differently. Specifically we reflected on whether and how urbanization reduces or increases equity gaps. In this light thought about how the public sector can ensure that all groups gain from the urbanization process and what contributions can come from the private sector.

Geared toward middle school, high school, and community college educators in the humanities and social sciences (but open to educators in all subjects), this workshop featured presentations by scholars, experts, policy-makers and practitioners who study urbanization and its impact, explored pedagogy and skill-building techniques to help educators and students better understand urbanization as a global phenomenon, and provided an introduction to relevant classroom resources.

Additional details and speaker bios are available in the program booklet.


Questions about the workshop?  Email us at

Sponsored by the Asia Center, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Center for African Studies, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Harvard’s Global Health Education & Learning Incubator; developed in collaboration with Project Zero, all of Harvard University.