University announces three new Urban Labs to focus on energy, health, poverty

Three new labs, studying energy, health, and poverty, will join the existing Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab.

By Marina Fang

The University announced the Urban Labs, a major new urban policy research initiative, before an event with a star-studded panel featuring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Monday.

The Urban Labs will consist of five separate labs studying different policy areas. Three newly established labs on energy, health, and poverty will join two existing University research initiatives, the Crime Lab and the Urban Education Lab. Timothy Knowles, who currently directs the University’s Urban Education Institute, will serve as director of the Urban Labs. Each specific lab will be headed by a University professor in that respective field.

The new labs will follow the approach established by the Crime and Education Labs, where in collaboration with community organizations, they will design and test policy programs grounded in academic research. The labs will be funded in part through a $10 million donation from the Pritzker Foundation.

Held at the Chicago Cultural Center, the event featured remarks from University President Robert Zimmer and Julián Castro, the U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, who both heralded the merits of evidence-based urban policy.

The announcement was followed by a panel discussion on the collaborations between researchers and urban policy makers, featuring Emanuel and Nutter and moderated by Roseanna Ander, the founding executive director of both the Crime Lab and Education Lab. The University hopes to launch all of the Urban Labs this summer.