Founded in January of 2014, the Urban Democracy Lab is an initiative of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University whose objective is to provide a space for scholars and practitioners to collaborate and exchange ideas for cultivating just, sustainable, and creative urban futures.  As a “lab,” we invite experimentation, provisional conclusions, and fresh approaches to entrenched urban problems. To ensure broad thinking, we welcome partnerships that bridge traditional disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

Our main areas of interest are:

Urban Ecology. The ecology of cities relies as much on human interactions with nature as it does on people’s relationships to one another. We are interested in how the environment and land use are governed, as well as how people can work together to decide upon, design, and influence the spaces in which they live.

Economic Equity. Economic equity and inequity exist in every detail of urban life. More often than not, cash and credit, rather than public will, determine who among us has access to resources such as good healthcare, well-maintained and affordable housing, strong schools, green spaces, and even quality groceries—and who of us does not. We examine the ways in which economic power is being redistributed in urban communities and the reverberations of these experiments on democratic participation.

Citizenship. The term “citizenship” conjures everything from documentation to civics education to planting a community garden. We think of citizenship in these ways, but also as a category that is constantly being redefined; at times, it is capacious and accessible, and, at other times, brutally restrictive. As national boundaries blur and global interdependencies strengthen, we ask: what does citizenship mean for the 21st century?

Arts and the City. One way to measure the vibrancy of a city is to look at what regard it has for the arts. Street art, public sculpture, pop-up galleries, music and dance performances, and museum exhibitions all underline the importance of creative pursuits that bring people together and communicate the variety of individual, urban experiences. We are interested in art that engages the public and invites people to interrogate their surroundings, and celebrate art that opens up greater possibilities for civic dialogue and social justice.

Contact us
Urban Democracy Lab
NYU, Gallatin School of Individualized Study
1 Washington Place, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003