City 2.0: Designing Just, Resilient Cities for the 22nd century

Engage kids to imagine what the world could be like for their children's children.

Photo of Maggie Favretti
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When the designers and urban planners we work with want to create freely, they try to “get into their kid brains.” Sometimes they say to each other, “pretend you are five.” What if we could give kids the tools to use their creativity and imagination innovate with purpose? They would make terrific partners for the skilled engineers, planners, architects, artists, psychologists and social workers who are already trying to design just and resilient cities for the 22 nd century.

Anyone can be easily overwhelmed by complex and political challenges like climate change. City 2.0 uses human-centered design thinking to arm students with a reliable problem-solving process, and matches it up with arts and STEM foundations. Global education research and experience shows that students will “perform better” when they are learning because it matters. Even before we can get the constraints of state testing changed, we can hack the system effectively by helping our students learn how to learn deeply and to think with a real purpose. There are three parts of this program, and while I do all three, one could plug in one or two of them, as long as the design thinking and the science is there, and still motivate students by presenting them with challenges that matter.

If you are envisioning 22 nd century cities, you might need to do an imagination exercise, in which students (and designers!) imagine themselves, or their children or grandchildren, at play in a city…the year is 2117…

The facilitation of real-world and global experience is an exciting challenge for teachers. To create an environment of conversation with experts about climate change impacts on urban settings, you’ll need to build a network of support. We can help each other to brainstorm likely pathways to finding partners and to framing your pitch. Similarly, global contacts are important for developing a global mindset and cross-cultural collaboration. We can work together to brainstorm a global ecosystem for imagining just and resilient cities, and giving students the confidence and skills to design them.

We bring it back home with a superstorm simulation role-play, or table-top exercise, assisted by our local emergency management agencies. By itself, the preparation, experience, and follow up can take two or three weeks. But the combination of science, civics, and urgency to act creates a powerful sense of empowerment and confidence among your students. Just make sure you make it solvable.

The momentum pushes students into “future-proof” infrastructure redesign. When they pitch their new prototypes, be it vibration-energy producing panels in the floor of Grand Central Terminal, a ready-switch to DC power for getting the lights back on in a disaster, a rail system that automatically times trains for commuter comfort and secure evacuation, or a future-proof wi-fi station, it is critical that they pitch to global designers, urban planners, and builders. We know that our just and resilient future depends on building networks and relationships. Let’s get started!

Check out the shared google doc:


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lisa Yokana

Hey Maggie-
Want to get some input from others on the platform to flesh this out more? Why not start a google doc and invite some others (Fallon?) to collaborate with you? And let me know how I can help. It would be great to get input....

Photo of Maggie Favretti

Happy to...I know how to create a google doc, but how do I do it on this platform?

Photo of Michael Schurr

Just copy and paste the link into the original post. Make sure sharing preferences are set to anyone with link. 

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