The Humanities + Urbanism + Design Initiative, sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, is a ground-breaking collaboration by the Weitzman School of Design, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Penn Institute for Urban Research that brings together students and faculty to explore cities — past, present and future — examining them at the intersection of the humanities and design disciplines and sharing research through teaching, conference participation, and publication. As renewed in 2018 under the theme “The Inclusive City,” the initiative stimulates inter- and multi-disciplinary work on diversity and inclusion in the built environment and builds a diverse and inclusive community of scholars who do this work.

The project harnesses Penn’s great strengths in design, urban studies, and the humanities, creating a multi-disciplinary setting for the study of the built environment in which students and faculty share and combine their research and analytical methods in order to and increase their contributions to the creation of more inclusive, beautiful, resilient cities around the globe.

The initiative was re-launched in 2018 under the guidance of a nineteen-member steering committee, which has overseen the appointment of a twenty-one-member Colloquium of faculty from multiple departments in both the School of Arts and Sciences and the Weitzman School of Design.  Colloquium members work with the project co-directors to shape the ongoing work of the initiative, including the sponsorship of co-taught courses, the award of undergraduate and graduate research grants, and the appointment of dissertation and postdoctoral fellows. 

Project Co-Directors

  • Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP, Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research Co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research
  • David Brownlee, FSAH, Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor Chair of the Graduate Group
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Pi, Kartzplatz Interchange, Vienna