Session 2

Session Two: Principles, Values, and the Future of Cities

February 3rd


  • What makes a good city
    •  Thomas
      • Affordable housing
      • Diverse forms of travel
      • Actively democratic
      • Environmental accountability
    • Mariegail
      • Equitable distribution of services and goods like healthcare and housing
      • Sustainability
      • Walkability
      • Everyone’s basic needs are met
    • Tammy
      • Accessible library system
      • Accessible public transit
      • Affordable housing
      • No food deserts
      • No digital divide
      • Open public spaces
      • Quality education systems
      • Renewable energy infrastructure
      • No racist land use policy
    • Madjeid
      • Happy children
      • No traffic
      • Sustainable density
      • Social justice
      • Environmentally responsible/ accountable
    • Marcus
      • Clean water
      • Oversight board for human rights commissions
      • Support for elderly population
      • Draw for young people from rural areas
      • Professional sports
    • Gustavo
      • Integrated neighborhoods (Racially/ socioeconomically)
    • Malik
      • Helping neighborhoods that need help
    • Joshua
      • Living wages
      • Accessible, human-centered transit
      • Community culture, not individual culture
      • Localized power grid
      • Income-based affordable housing
      • Public banks
    • Raquel
      • Support for arts and cultures
      • No prisons, jails, or juvenile centers: prison abolition
      • No differentiation by immigration status
      • No discrimination
    • Ann
      • Zero waste
      • Resource recovery
    • Brian
      • Regional solidarity
      • Regional public health coordination
  • What principles/ approaches
    • Cooperation
    • Respect
    • Global Community
    • Benefits of sharing/ multiculturalism
    • Society needs healthy children

New Content

  • Principles are rules or beliefs that govern our actions
  • Values are things you think are important or not important which inform behavior
  • Obscure, solidify, reify the power dynamic
  • Policies are based on values
    • Policies reflect who has more power
  • Professor wants us to think about policies and laws and zoning codes that get embedded on the books as values.
    • Because she wants us to understand that everything that happens is the result of power dynamics.
  • Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.

This session will focus on the principles and values that inform student’s analysis of urban conditions and on what students hope to see in cities of the future. The following questions will guide our discussion – in 8 breakout rooms, one group for each question:

  1. What principles and values can guide us as we examine and envision alternative models and scenarios for the future of cities?
  2. How can the principles developed by the Black Lives Matter activists inform our principles?
  3. To what extent can social and economic change be planned?
  4. Who should be responsible for determining the direction of change in cities?
  5. Where and when should people be proactive in pushing for change?
  6. How can cities and metropolitan regions be reorganized to produce urban futures that are more sustainable, equitable, and livable?
  7. What are the impacts of increasing inequality in the United States?
  8. When we focus on alternative urban futures, how important is it to focus on large scale dynamics related to the structure of society and the economy?

Required Reading:

Study the website below:


Three Roles Cities Play in Building a Sustainable Future – 2 minutes
Inclusive, resilient, productive, livable, sustainable


FIRST: Write down all the characteristics you associate with the idea of a “healthy” city.

  • Access to sufficient food
  • Access to sufficient water
  • Access to sufficient housing
  • Clean air
  • Free universal healthcare

After you make your list answer these two questions: What are the measurements you would use to document a healthy city? How do you think urban authorities can promote a healthy city?

  1. Percent unhoused population
  2. AQI and other metrics of air quality
  3. Randomized checks of water quality
  4. Longitudinal analyses of food deserts and swamps

SECOND: Review the website below and be prepared to discuss what you learned from watching the video.


  1. 7 Principles for Building Better Cities | Peter Calthorpe (14 minutes)
  2. Sustainable Development in Brazil – (21 minutes)