MLD-332: Leadership and Innovation for a Livable City

Semester: Not Offered

Credit: 1.0

Faculty: David Gergen


Day Time Location
First Day
Meet Day


In much of the world, economic and social progress increasingly depends upon the vitality of cities. For the first time in history, more than half of the world's population live in urban areas and by 2050, some three quarters will (including a high percentage of HKS graduates).The increasing inability of national governments to meet the needs of their citizens makes cities even more important. The United States provides a vivid example of how much cities now matter: estimates say its top 100 metropolitan areas cover just 12% the country's land mass but account for 65% of its populations, 75% of its GDP and 80% of its patents.This course is experimental, seeking to understand how leadership and innovation can improve city life. It will draw heavily upon first hand exposure to Boston, a city emerging from decades of economic stagnation in the 1950s and '60s to become one of the country's most dynamic, diverse, well-educated and innovative centers -- and yet, a laboratory for change that still has daunting challenges. The course will build upon another experimental course -- on New York City -- offered in January 2014. We will spend time in the classroom on most Monday afternoons and on field visits on a number of Friday afternoons -- a combination that students in January found helpful for learning. Our intention is to explore questions about urban leadership and innovation through conversations with prominent practitioners and thinkers as well as readings. In the classroom as well as the field, we will meet with those whose work is crucial to Boston -- whether in government, non-profits, business, universities, education, health centers, the arts and more.Along the way, we will try to sort out hard debates (How fares school reform? What should be done about growing inequality? How can a city best capture the advantages of a start-up culture and new technologies?)

Students should be expected to be available for classroom work on Mondays from 4:10 to 5:30p.m. and for field trips on Fridays stretching from 10:00am to 5:00 p.m. The schedule within these slots with fluctuate according to the availability of guest speakers and field visits. Please see syllabus for specific schedule. Students will frequently be responsible for their own travel around Boston on field learning days. Not offered in 2015-16.



John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
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