Harvard Mellon Initiative: Reconceptualizing the Urban

Funded by the Mellon Foundation, Reconceptualizing the Urban: Interdisciplinary Study of Urban Environments, Societies, and Cultures brings together scholars and resources in an attempt to establish a vigorous, interdisciplinary and coordinated study of urban environments in the humanities.

The Harvard Mellon Initiative is structured around ongoing city-based research projects. Each project will serve as a research ‘portal’ into specific geographies and urban issues, while opening up a broad interdisciplinary field of comparative study and research. Starting with four research portals – Boston, Berlin-Moscow, Mumbai, and Istanbul – the aspiration is to create a broad intellectual community of interdisciplinary humanistic inquiry focused on the city and issues of the urban extending well beyond Harvard.


The primary goals of the project include:

  • developing sustained research projects that incorporate new visual and digital methods into the study of urban environments;
  • contributing to the Harvard curriculum with urban-studies courses co-taught by GSD and FAS faculty;
  • producing publications and exhibitions; and
  • generating a wide variety of urban studies programming and intellectual community-building.

This initiative will play a significant role in shaping longer-term goals for urban studies at Harvard at the undergraduate and graduate levels.