Capacity building for city leadership: The role of universities

Panel discussion hosted by LSE Cities

LSE Cities hosted a high level roundtable discussion to explore the role which universities can and should play in addressing the needs of a new generation of urban leaders. The discussion was a side event of the 2017 Going Global British Council conference for leaders of international education.

Senior representatives from the Higher Education sector and from National and Municipal Governments explored the role that universities play in providing the necessary knowledge and skills for contemporary city leadership. In light of the  United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the recent New Urban Agenda of Habitat III there is a pressing need to develop the skills and capacities of urban professionals who are delivering positive urban change across different governance scales. Participants in this event considered the demand for specific knowledge, skills and capacities and identified programmes which universities could take forward to address meaningful capacity building for city leadership.


    Michele Acuto

    Michele Acuto is currently Research Director and Professor in Diplomacy and Urban Theory at STEaPP, UCL. He is currently principal investigator for the ESRC project "Urban Connections" and the City Leadership Laboratory, a joint project created by UN-Habitat, World Bank and UCL which aims at assessing the role of city leadership in responding to global challenges. He is also co-investigator in two EPSRC projects focusing on the governance of the energy-food-water nexus, and an expert advisor on city diplomacy for the WHO. Professor Acuto's research focuses on the role of urbanisation and technology in world politics and on the changing landscapes of diplomacy. He is the author of The Urban Link (Routledge), editor of Negotiating Relief (Hurst), co-editor of Global City Challenges (with Wendy Steele) and Reassembling International Theory (with Simon Curtis) and of the series Cities and the Global Politics of the Environment (with Sofie Bouteligier) all for Palgrave Macmillan.

    Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics (LSE), and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age project. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, and was chief advisor on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London from 2001 to 2006. He was director of the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2006. With Deyan Sudjic he is co-editor of The Endless City (2007) and Living in the Endless City (2011) and, with Philipp Rode Shaping Cities in an Urban Age (2018).

    Tessa Jowell

    Dame Tessa Jowell is a former MP and UK Government Secretary of State. She was Minister for the Olympics from 2005–2010 and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 2001–2007. In 2014 she was appointed Professor of Practice, working with LSE Cities and the Department of Government on a range of academic and outreach initiatives. She stood down from UK Parliament in 2015, having served as an MP for the London constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992.

    Philipp Misselwitz

    Philipp Misselwitz is an architect and urban planner based in Berlin. He was educated at Cambridge University and the Architectural Association London and received his PhD from Stuttgart University for research on socio-spatial development within urbanised refugee camps. In 2008, he initiated the EU funded research project which led to the development and testing of a community-driven planning methodologies (CIP) conducted in Palestinian refugee camps across the Middle East. He worked for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) and as a consultant for United Nations Relief and Works Agency before becoming the Chair of International Urbanism at University of Stuttgart (2010-2013). In 2013, he was appointed Chair of Habitat Unit at the Institute for Architecture of the Technische Universität Berlin - a globally networked research and teaching centre focused on the study of urbanisation processes in the Global South.

    Eddie Ng

    Eddie Ng is the Secretary for Education of Hong Kong. In 1977, Ng began his career at the Hong Kong Council of Social Service co-ordinating non-governmental organisations. Since then, he has taken human resource management positions at multiple corporations including Motorola, Citibank, AT&T, Lucent, Jardine Fleming, JPMorgan Chase, and Macquarie Group. In 2006, he began serving as member of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority council and chairman of the human resources committee. By 2009, Ng became Chairman of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. He was later appointed as Secretary for Education of Hong Kong in July 2012.

    Sue Parnell

    Susan Parnell is the Global Challenges Chair, University of Bristol & Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town. She has been actively involved in local, national and global urban policy debates around the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal and is an active advocate for better science policy engagement on cities. She co-founded the African Centre for Cities and held previous academic positions at Wits University and the School of Oriental and African Studies as well as visiting research fellowships from Oxford, Durham and the British Academy. She was a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at UCL and Emeka Anyaoku  and visiting Chair, University of London. Recent books include Building a Capable State: Post Apartheid Service Delivery (Zed, 2017) and The Urban Planet (Cambridge, 2017).

    Aromar Revi

    Aromar Revi is the Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) – India’s first prospective National University for Research and Innovation to address challenges of urbanisation through an integrated programme of education, research, consulting and advisory services. He has been a senior advisor to various ministries of the Government of India, consulted with a wide range of UN, multilateral, bilateral development and private sector institutions and works on economic, environmental and social change at global, regional and urban scales.

    Philipp Rode

    Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As researcher, consultant and advisor he has been directing interdisciplinary projects comprising urban governance, transport, city planning and urban design at the LSE since 2003. The focus of his current work is on institutional structures and governance capacities of cities, and on sustainable urban development, transport and mobility. Rode is co-directing the cities workstream of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and has co-led the United Nations Habitat III Policy Unit on Urban Governance. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

    Jagan Shah

    Jagan Shah has 20 years of professional work experience in various aspects of urban development in India. He studied Architectural Design from School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Architectural History & Theory from the University of Cincinnati and Columbia University, USA. He has served as the Director of Sushant School of Architecture, Gurgaon and has taught at the School of Planning & Architecture (SPA) from 1998 till 2006. From 2007 to 2010, he was the Chief Executive of Urban Space Consultants, providing consultancy in policy formulation, spatial planning, heritage conservation, transportation and livelihoods development, for clients such as Infrastructure Development Finance Company, Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transport System, Jaipur Virasat Foundation, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, India Foundation for the Arts and others.

    Savvas Verdis

    Savvas Verdis is a Senior Research Fellow at LSE Cities, the Deputy Director of the Executive MSc in Cities and the founder of Until recently he was Director of Infrastructure Economics at Siemens Cities. At the LSE, he manages the Executive Education programmes, which include: tailored learning experiences for organisations; the Executive Summer School programme on London and Global Cities; and the Executive MSc in Cities. He previously worked in the advisory service of LSE Cities and led the research of the ninth Urban Age conference in Rio de Janeiro. He has consulted numerous city and national governments on their infrastructure strategies in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Turkey. From 2009 to 2012, he was founder and CEO of Property Analytics, an algorithm-based property rating website that ranked residential properties in London and New York. He received his PhD from Cambridge University in 2007.