You are here

21st Century Cities on the rise

Grant launches effort to promote effective use of data and evidence within local government; Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Kathryn Edin named director of 21st Century Cities Initiative
Posted December 11, 2015

A grant from the foundation of three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg — and the appointment of renowned sociologist Kathryn Edin as director of the university's 21st Century Cities Initiative — will enable Johns Hopkins and local, national, and international partners to take on some of today's most exciting urban challenges.

The grant is part of Bloomberg Philanthropies' recently announced What Works Cities initiative, a $42 million effort to help mayors and local leaders use data and evidence to engage the public, improve services and evaluate progress.

The funds will be used to establish a Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins. As part of What Works Cities, the center will help 100 U.S. cities identify opportunities to enhance the use of data and evidence. Experts at the center will provide coaching and tools to build capacity in city halls for decision-making rooted in evidence, open accountability, and citizen engagement. The center is also a component of the university’s 21st Century Cities Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort to address urban challenges in the United States and around the globe.

"The center will transform how city governments operate," Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said. "It will promote a culture of government transparency, accountability, and engagement with citizens, and will help cities learn to make quick measureable improvements in citizens' lives."

"While cities are working to meet new challenges with limited resources, they have access to more data than ever – and they are increasingly using it to improve people’s lives," said Bloomberg, a Johns Hopkins alumnus and former chair of its board of trustees. "We'll help them build on their progress, and help even more cities take steps to put data to work.  What works? That's a question that every city leader should ask - and we want to help them find answers."

The university has appointed sociologist Kathryn Edin to be the first director of the overall 21st Century Cities Initiative, leading a university-wide complement of faculty, students and staff to address urban challenges. Edin is one of the university's Bloomberg Distinguished Professors, one of 10 – and eventually, 50 – world experts committed to working across disciplinary lines to generate solutions to important problems facing humanity.

"Our focus is on resilient cities both here and around the world. We want to study 21st-century possibilities and challenges and to adopt 21st-century solutions," Edin said. "Cities are often in crisis mode, and it can be hard for city officials to see new possibilities. We want to be the people who offer that vision and information to civic leaders."

Another Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, sociologist Stephen Morgan, is also a part of the 21st Century Cities Initiative, as are faculty members from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Whiting School of Engineering, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Peabody Conservatory, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the Carey Business School, and the School of Education.

The initiative seeks to generate scholarly and applied research; train a new generation of scholars and practice professionals to develop and implement research; advance civic leaders' understanding and use of research data; and foster deeper engagement with and among those leaders, in Baltimore and around the world.

Going forward, the university and the Rising to the Challenge campaign will continue to build additional support for the 21st Century Cities Initiative. Learn how you can help support the initiative.