CURE - Dr. Murali Chandrashekaran

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The world continues to urbanize. In the 100 years starting 1913, the proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities grew 5-fold from 10% to 50%, and estimates suggest that 75% of the world’s population will live in cities in 2050. Though history reveals that it has always been an accelerator of growth and development, urbanization poses profound challenges. Indeed, while cities are where the majority of the world’s population live, work and play, generating more than three-fourths of the world’s GDP, they are also at the frontlines of many disasters and risks. As the World Bank notes, “… recent examples show how economic crises, health epidemics, and uncontrolled urbanization can also affect the ability of a city to sustain growth and provide services for its citizens – underscoring the need for a new approach to resilient urban development.”

  • COVID-19 is offering the world a particularly stark reminder that a focus on long-term resilience is crucial for citizens, communities, corporations, cities and countries.  At a fundamental level, this crisis has driven societies, urban and rural, to greater isolation.  Several intersecting lines of thought have surfaced from this forced isolation, three of which frame this course.  First are questions about the very reason cities exist – agglomeration of talent, exchanges and spaces that underpin creativity, innovation, prosperity and vibrancy of societies.  Second is the growing recognition that the crisis is presenting us an opportunity to not just recover and move back to how things were; rather, that this may be a time to reimagine and reinvent individual and collective engagement within the complex system of systems that cities are.  Third is the striking manner in which the crisis has laid bare deep-rooted and increasingly widening urban social, environmental and economic divides and disparities.

    As we emerge from the long shadow of this crisis, it is increasingly apparent that resilience, reinvention and the bridging of urban divides require greater multilateralism, inclusion and collaboration from which globally-informed and locally-relevant solutions may surface.  The need for inclusive approaches is perhaps the greatest for informal settlements and slums that house the world’s most vulnerable people.  Though informal settlements evidence an amazing capacity to self-organize and fashion innovative low-cost solutions, COVID-19 has vividly surfaced the need to mobilize innovative models of global partnerships, and develop holistic strategies to find solutions to the very challenges that underpin the vulnerability of informal settlements.

Spheres of engagement

CURE brings together diverse stakeholders – Cities, Community organizations, Colleges/Universities,  and Corporates – to engage in 4 pillar activities.

Transformative learning experiences for future leaders

Providing unprecedented opportunities for a diverse group of students to start their careers with a meaningful project, which can help them become leaders in resilience building in communities in their countries. Each project will be overseen by scholars at partner universities, who will collaborate with each other to create impactful works of research-based practice, designed for broad distribution.

Capacity development

Aimed at helping develop resilience thinking and/or specialized skills among professionals working for or in cities.

Basic & responsive research

Providing a platform to connect faculty and students across disciplines and universities to engage in transdisciplinary research that is fundamental and, at the same time, responsive to needs faced by cities and communities.

Knowledge exchange

Curation of case studies on innovations focused on enhancing the resilience and effectiveness of cities, with an aim to develop evidence-bases metrics and indices to guide investment decisions.

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