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By on February 19, 2016
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Name of university

Stanford University

Program on Urban Studies


Stanford University
Program on Urban Studies
450 Serra Mall, Building 120
Stanford, CA 94305

(650) 725-1731

Official Focal Point
Deland Chan

Alternate Focal Point
Michael Kahan

Authority approving the partnership
Zephyr Frank – Director, Program on Urban Studies



The Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University is an interdisciplinary, undergraduate program that combines academic approaches with real world experience to understand cities. Our mission is to develop students’ understanding of the nature of cities and their impacts on both the individual and society at large.

The program is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing from fields in the social sciences, history, and education.

There are five concentrations: Cities in Comparative and Historical Perspective; Urban Education; Urban Society and Social Change; Urban Sustainability, and Self Designed. Coursework focuses on how cities have changed over time, issues in contemporary urban society, and tools that can improve urban life and in societies around the world.
We are a pioneer in experiential learning initiatives that combine academic coursework with real world urban challenges and public service. All Urban Studies majors partake in a community engaged learning opportunity through an internship, summer fellowship, or project based course. These opportunities enable students to see the link between theory and practice, develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and gain fluency in cross cultural collaboration.

Potential Collaboration Opportunities
Our partnership with UN-Habitat UNI will take place within the Human Cities Initiative, housed within the Urban Studies Program.

At the Human Cities Initiative, we take a whole systems approach to the research and practice of sustainable cities. We aim to identify distinct challenges of urbanization at different stages of development and support human-centered technological, policy, and design strategies that address those challenges. We develop and practice ethical approaches, using frameworks that are inclusive (for many) and participatory (by many) to benefit diverse human communities. Our overarching framework for sustainable development is the Four Pillars of Sustainability consisting of environmental protection, economic vitality, social equity, and cultural continuity­­ and in which a balance of tradeoffs and choices between natural resources, land use, and human capital is necessary.

Thematic Hubs of interest: urban regeneration, urban governance, safer cities, climate change, urban form.

As a member of UN-Habitat UNI network, we look forward to engaging in productive dialogue with UN-Habitat, universities, and research institutions on the growth and development of sustainable cities. Programmatic activities include hosting UNI events at Stanford University, contributing to the Urban Lecture Series, developing curriculum that involve students/faculty in discussions and preparations for Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda. We will also provide resources for our students to participate in internship and fellowship opportunities with organizations concerned with urban sustainability.

Areas of Expertise related to UN-Habitat
  • Planning and Design
  • Land
  • Housing
  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Climate Change

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