International workshop: Building inclusive cities: Agenda for Barcelona and Chicago 2017-09-27T13:15:16+00:00


Since the Global Crisis of 2008, municipal and metropolitan governments have struggled to meet the needs of residents. The crisis brought revenue shortages because of lower incomes and property values and because austerity policies imposed by higher levels of government diminished financial support. Combined with political turmoil at higher scales, the increased uncertainty and risk surrounding new public investment has made it harder for local governments to access capital on reasonable terms. Older ways of raising and spending revenues may not work in this changed environment.

At the same time there has been an increase in bottom-up claims for the preservation of communities and the sustainability of urban neighbourhoods.  At the top of the list of social demands by residents in Barcelona and in Chicago are more affordable housing, accessible and high-quality public schools, transit, and health care, and enhanced safety and security.

Into this void have stepped private and non-profit actors who have proposed alternatives that promise both public benefit and private gain. Private actors have pushed new forms of public-private partnerships, employer-assisted housing, social-impact bonds, and infrastructure investment funds. The current environment is also an opportunity for civil society to show its strength and creative capacity, and both Chicago and Barcelona have histories of mobilizing residents to contribute to the local policy and political agendas. For example, non-profit organizations have established “bottom-linked” governance relations with local institutions to put forward innovative programmes directed at the preservation of mixed neighbourhoods to counteract gentrification processes.

Rather than simply analyse and critique these new models, we wish to know: what do public sector-led, inclusive urban policies look like?  Our interest is in finding feasible policy solutions that bring in new actors and also address questions of access, equity, and growth.

We propose a one-and-a-half day conference in May 2017 that brings scholars, planners, technical professionals, elected and non-elected officials, and leaders of civil society from the two cities currently grappling with these issues: Barcelona and Chicago. Both cities have seen their economies shift away from their industrial activity into other sectors (finance, technology, tourism) but have struggled to secure meaningful pathways of advancement for their populations. Both grapple with income polarization, social fragmentation and segregation, although to different degrees. Both have experienced tensions with higher levels of government, and both have a dense network of social non-profit organizations. They also face different challenges, which will be brought into the discussion.

The workshop will build on existing scholarly and practitioner networks to create a transnational dialogue that will result in a sharing of policy and planning knowledge.

Keynotes presented during the conference

Dates: 29th and 30th May 2017

Venue:  Aula Magna, Faculty of Economics and Business

University of Barcelona, Diagonal, 690



Registration to the workshop is free. Nevertheless we open a registration process for organization purposes. Registration is possible until May 25.

To register please click here and fill all the fields


08:30 Registration

09:00 Welcome addresses

Dr. Ramon Alemany, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Barcelona.

Dra. Marisol García, CRIT, University of Barcelona.

Mr. Héctor Santcovsky, Director of Social and Economic Development, Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona.

Hon. Mr. MI Gerardo Pisarello, First Deputy Mayor of Barcelona.


09:30 – 11:30 Session A: Social Inequalities : This session lays out the socio-economic challenges facing these two cities, particularly growing income polarisation and spatial segregation.

Dr. Sebastià Sarasa, University Pompeu Fabra.

Dr. Nik Theodore, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dra. Cristina López, University of Barcelona.

Chair: Mr. Héctor Santcovsky, Director of Social and Economic Development, Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona.

11:30 Coffee break

12:00 – 14:00 Session B: Employment and Housing Dynamics

This session addresses questions of housing affordability and employment opportunities examining the transformations in markets of Chicago and Barcelona before and after the 2008 financial crisis as well as social policies meant to address these transformations.

Mr. Javier Burón, Manager of Housing, Department of Social Rights Barcelona City Council.

Dr. Phil Ashton, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Joan Trullén, Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Chair: Mr. Amadeu Iglesias, Director Gerent de l’Institut Metropolità de Promoció de Sòl i Gestió Patrimonial (IMPSOL).

 14:00 Lunch

 15:00 – 17:00 Session C: Sustainable Neighbourhoods and Governance

This panel will address issues of sustainable neighbourhood development and social inclusion in Barcelona and Chicago, tackling questions of multi-level governance involving state and non-state actors.

Ms. Alejandra Ibáñez, Woods Fund of Chicago.

Mr. Antoni Codina, General Director Taula d’Entitats del Tercer Sector Social de Catalunya.

Dr. Dick Simpson, University of Illinois at Chicago and former Chicago alderman (City Council member).

Chair: Dr. Ricard Gomà, Director de l’Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona (IERMB), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

09:30 – 11:30 Session D: Political Perspectives on Inclusive Cities (Castellano)

This dialogue will discuss how politicians can draw on the energies of new social and political movements and ideas to reform administration and promote policies that prioritize equity.

Hon. Mr. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Cook County Commissioner and former mayoral candidate, Chicago.

Hon. Mr. Jaume Collboni, Vice-president Area Metropolitana de Barcelona and Second Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Area of Enterprise, Culture and Innovation.

Chair: Dra. Marisol García, CRIT University of Barcelona.

11:30 Coffee break

 12:00 -14:00 Session E: Investing in Infrastructure and Services

This session confronts the financial challenges that municipalities and metropolitan regions face in providing and managing infrastructures and collective services.

Dr. Manel Villalante, Barcelona Regional, UPC.

Dra. Rachel Weber, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Germà Bel, University of Barcelona.

Chair: Mr. Carles Conill, Director of Sustainable Mobility Services, Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona.

14:00 Lunch

Afternoon fieldtrip: Visit to 22@ District-Forum and Pza Europa after introduction to the projects in the two areas by Metropolitan Area of Barcelona Planning Department.

Download the complete workshop programme