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Transforming Urban Transport – The Role of Political Leadership

On November 15th, 2016, Meeting of the Minds hosted a live webinar, featuring Diane Davis and Lily Song of the TUT-POL project at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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What makes it possible for democratically governed cities to move forward with innovative transportation policies that advance mobility and sustainability goals? How have key leaders and advocates in such cities been able to overcome the various administrative, fiscal, environmental and political obstacles that have prevented more widespread adoption of transformative urban transportation policies?

Such questions are the focus of the research project, Transforming Urban Transport -The Role of Political Leadership (TUT-POL), sponsored by the Volvo Education and Research Foundations (VREF) and hosted at the Harvard Graduate School of Design under the direction of Professor Diane Davis. TUT-POL seeks to advance actionable knowledge of how, when, and where political leadership has proven critical to the successful implementation of transformative transportation policies. It does so through case study research of 8 localities— Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York City, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Stockholm, and Vienna—all central cities of major urban regions around the world, embedded in contexts of democratic governance, and bearing marked change in transport system characteristics within the last 20 years or so against, ex ante, what might be considered overwhelming odds.

In this webinar, Professor Diane Davis and Senior Researcher Lily Song will share findings from TUT-POL case studies of New York’s urban streets initiatives, Stockholm’s adoption of congestion pricing, and Seoul’s combined highway demolition, bus system overhaul, and urban regeneration while discussing political conditions and processes explaining implementation successes. In particular, the presentation will highlight the use of data and evidence (e.g. GPS data, polling data, voter trends), public engagement and communication (e.g. public outreach campaigns, voter referendum, working committees/public task forces), and organizational and policy management in promoting implementation of urban transport policies intended to challenge car-centrism and change mode-share while also fostering mobility and environmental aims.


Diane-DavisDiane Davis

Project Director, TUT-POL; Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism; Chair, Urban Planning and Design

Harvard University Graduate School of Design


Diane Davis is Project Director for TUT-POL and a Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She is an elected member of the Urban and Regional Development Section (RC21) of the International Sociological Association (ISA) and a member of Panel SH3 (Environment and society: environmental studies, demography, social geography, urban and regional studies) of European Research Council. She has published several books on urban development.

Lily Song

Senior Research Associate, TUT-POL; Lecturer, Urban Planning & Design
Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Lily Song is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design and Senior Research Associate with the TUT-POL project at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her teaching and research focus on issues of urban sustainability, livability, and justice; race and class politics in American cities and postcolonial urban contexts; and community development. She holds a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from MIT.


November 15, 2016
9:00 am - 10:00 pm
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Meeting of the Minds
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