We work with key stakeholders in urban governance to provide evidence, build capacity and offer advice on the global dynamics shaping the leadership of cities. We offer reliable and innovative sources of applied urban research, producing both policy material, practice-oriented education and scholarly reviews. Connected Cities Lab specialises on the ways networks, international processes and information influence urban governance, and strives to link academic research to practical needs.
The way we govern cities, and in turn the way cities contribute to addressing global challenges, is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of humanity. Yet cities are now confronted with a rapidly changing landscape of international politics, interconnected infrastructures, and shifting economies. Cities can no longer be thought in isolation from each other and the business of deciding who gets what, when, and how in urban development has become a global affair.
Focusing on these networked challenges for city leadership, the Connected Cities Lab is an experimental hub tackling the complexity underpinning urban governance with a focus on information and connectivity. Located within the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning (ABP), and the Melbourne School of Design (MSD), the Lab aims at research that is inherently impact-driven, interdisciplinary and collaborative to address pressing city leadership challenges in and between cities. The Lab is characterised by a focus on urban governance and policy.
Lab research and education programmes engage with the ways decisions about the present and future development of cities are shaped by information flows and more-than-local networks. It is supported by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners, and well-established links into industry and government. The Lab's research program is geared towards developing a scholarly and international appreciation of urban politics in both academia and practice. The Lab does so by encouraging evidence-based policymaking and focusing on comparative and applied urban research, working with key voices in the built environment to ensure scholarly advancement translates into urban innovation, and vice-versa.
Should city research be led by cities?
Cities and the UN
What place do cities have in the United Nations?
Cities at Night
Urban life doesn't stop when the sun goes down
Do cities need foreign policies?
The networked frontier of city leadership
City Resilience Strategies
City actions contributing to resilient urban futures
How do cities think of each other?
Environment Politics Beyond Environment
How can environment politics go beyond the essentialist morality of ‘protecting nature’?
Evidence 2 Action
How can we enable healthy and equitable cities in which young people can flourish?
Great Powers and Urbanization Project
How is geopolitics being shaped in the ‘urban age’?
Healthy City Leadership
Supporting the World Health Organization in driving healthy and sustainable urban governance
What knowledge do cities need to meet their climate action ambitions?
Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality
Can we co-produce more equal cities?
Is urban governance delivering on its promises?
Philanthropy and the City
What is the role of philanthropic institutions in the future of cities?
Science and the Future of Cities
A Nature Sustainability Expert Panel
SDGs Cities Challenge
A collaborative project seeking to contribute to the implementation of key urban Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets and indicators.
SDGs for Melbourne
Localising the SDGs: A Strategic Prioritisation Framework for City of Melbourne
Leveraging urban data to shape cities
Trundle, A. (2020). Resilient cities in a Sea of Islands: Informality and climate change in the South Pacific. Cities, 97, 102496.
Acuto, M. (2020). Engaging with global urban governance in the midst of a crisis. Dialogues in Human Geography 10(2): 221-224.
Jon, I. (2020). A manifesto for planning after the coronavirus: Towards planning of care. Planning Theory, 19:3.
Rogers, D., Herbert, M., Murray, K. et al. (2020). The city under COVID: Podcasting as a digital methodology. Journal of Economic and Social Geography, 111: 434-450.
Acuto, M. (2020). COVID-19: Lessons for an Urban (izing) World. One Earth, 2(4), 317-319.
Jon, I. (2020). Scales of Political Action in the Anthropocene: Gaia, Networks, and Cities as Frontiers of Doing Earthly Politics. Global Society, 1-23.
Hensley, M., Mateo-Babiano, D., Minnery, J., & Pojani, D. (2020). How diverging interests in public health and urban planning can lead to less healthy cities. Journal of Planning History, 19(2), 71-89.
- Professor Michele Acuto, Lab Director and Professor of Global Urban Politics
- Kate Murray, Lab Coordinator
- Jessie Briggs, Research Fellow in Urban Sustainability
- Geoffrey Browne, Postdoctoral Research Fellow In International Urban Development
- Stephanie Butcher, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Urban Politics
- Jennifer Dam, Project Coordinator on Botnar Evidence to Action
- Kazi Nazrul Fattah, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Urban Politics
- Pablo Fuentenebro Alonso, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Urban Politics
- Paris Hadfield, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Urban Innovation
- Thomas Jacobs, Project Officer in SDGs Cities Challenge and Innovate4Cities
- Ihnji Jon, Lecturer in International Urban Politics
- Hyung Min Kim, Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning
- Anna Kosovac, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in International Urban Politics
- Inderlina Mateo-Babiano, Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning
- Daniel Pejic, Research Fellow in International Urban Migration
- Alexei Trundle, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Sustainable Urban Development
- Joyati Das, Enterprise Principal Fellow in International Urban Development
- Cathy Oke, Melbourne Enterprise Senior Fellow in Informed Cities
Lab Visiting Fellows
- Kris Hartley, A/Prof. in Public Policy at Education University of Hong Kong
- Andreina Seijas, Urban Night Researcher, Harvard Graduate School of Design
- Shelby Bassett, Research Assistant in Urban Policy
- Rebecca Clements, Research Assistant on Innovate4Cities
- Ariana Dickey, Research Assistant in Urban Innovation
- Giorgia Fornari, Research Assistant on SDGs for Melbourne
- Julia Henly, Research Assistant in Global City Leadership
- Sombol Mokhles - "Climate Change Experimentation in International City Networks” University Graduate Research Scholarship
- Caitlin Morrissey - “Making Up the Global City” Dual Melbourne-Manchester PhD Award
- Daniel Pejic - "City as Group Agent in Global Migration Governance" Lab Scholarship
- Jana Perkovic -"Form Follows Finance: Redesigning Housing Markets" Lab Scholarship
- The Business of Cities, The Comparative Imagination
- Chicago Council on Global Affairs, City Diplomacy, Great Powers and Urbanization Project
- The Economist Intelligence Unit, The Comparative Imagination
- Fondation Botnar, Evidence to Action
- Global Covenant of Mayors, Innovate4Cities
- International Sustainability Unit, Science and the Future of Cities
- Nature Sustainability, Science and the Future of Cities
- University College London, Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality
- UCL Grand Challenge for Sustainable Cities, Science and the Future of Cities
We deliver education that builds upon Lab research to inform the next generation of city leaders and encourage research-led education.
A two-week summer intensive designed to tackle the ‘international’ aspects of city governance and planning, with a focus on city leadership, the institutions and trends that underpin it.Learn more
Studio N: Managing Cities at Night
This intensive studio tackles the ‘night time’ challenge for built environment practitioners and offers a venue to further refine interdisciplinary and policy-relevant skills of urban planning, urban design and architecture professionals.View
Studio R: Urban Resilience
The ultimate learning purpose of this studio is to enhance the general understanding of ‘resilience’ and to seek proper applications of this concept in ecological/sustainable urbanism projects, with special focus on water-resiliency and climate-led disaster mitigation.View
Get in touch: urban research is an inherently collaborative endeavour!
Propose a project or raise a pressing issue for the Lab’s team to tackle via quantitative and qualitative urban analysis: testing methods with real-world applications. Propose a Melbourne School of Design studio partnership on a key issue of international urban planning/governance for your city, industry or programContact
Join the conversation and keep up with all the Lab happenings through our Twitter account @networkedcitiesView
Engage with the Lab’s professional education in city leadership, urban governance and negotiation. Support a Melbourne School of Design doctoral or master scholar to work on a pressing challenge that currently shapes your practice.Learn more
Cities are on the frontlines of the current coronavirus pandemic crisis.
COVID-19 has imposed exceptional measures of unprecedented impact in recent history and is shaking the foundations of our daily lives, from social interactions to economic relations and everyday wellbeing, in major centres the world over. It is the very ‘connected cities’ nature of our urbanised planet that facilitated the global spread of COVID-19 and foregrounds some of our biggest challenges, but city leaders are also stepping up to the test posed by the coronavirus whilst digital, social and political connections are being recast in settlements in the Global North and South.
Building on existing efforts in the areas of urban policy and health, as well as wellbeing and cities, the Connected Cities Lab is engaging in a number of ways in the current response to COVID-19, advocating for an evidence-based, equitable and inclusive, and innovation-oriented approach to the crisis. On this page, you will find a repository of these engagements.
We also encourage consulting the work of the University’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, at the forefront of COVID-19 response.
The COVID-19 pandemic has generated urgent and significant challenges for city authorities and citizens. At the same time, the crisis raises new and renewed social, economic, and public health questions and opportunities for sustainable urban development. As the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) Research and Innovation Technical Working Group develops a strategic framework to advance city climate action at a regional scale, understanding and responding to the pandemic at a local level must be part of this process.Temporary bike lanes in Vancouver, Canada, April 2020 (Photo by Dylan Passmore licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 / Cropped from original)News
Pandemic outbreaks regularly surface global lessons in urban health and planning. Michele Acuto looks at what the covid-19 pandemic can teach usNews
Michele Acuto, Lab Director, explores how managing a global city like Melbourne in the midst of overlapping crises might just be the new state of affairs.News
Michele Acuto and Daniel Pejic from Connected Cities Lab explain why addressing urban migrant vulnerability strengthens the resilience of cities and fast-tracks our recovery from COVID-19.News
Plans for the Trans-Tasman bubble are gathering pace with suggestions it could be up and running by July. Saturday AM asks how travel is going to change and whether Pacific nations will be included.News
The development of cities has been by affected by disease for centuries, so what legacy will Covid-19 leave on urban life?News
Coronavirus has put into the spotlight some of the core principles of 20th-century urbanism. Already cities are changing, but how long will these changes last post-pandemic?News
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of the best and the worst that cities have to offer. But how can we make them more resilient to future pandemics and infectious diseases?News
The COVID-19 crisis has changed the face of many of our cities and questioned how we should manage urban life in the wake of a pandemic. Michele Acuto points to the need to learn urban governance lessons and to the potential value of urban experimentation in crisisNews
Anna Kosovac, Research Fellow, and Erin O'Donnell show we may have a surprising new ally in the bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak: your sewage.News
The coronavirus pandemic has already changed many aspects of life. How we travel, how we work and how we live. It may even change how some of our cities will look and operate in the future. Michele Acuto talks to Al Jazeera.News
What’s the role of ‘academic experts’ in the debate about COVID-19 and cites, and how can we separate our expert role from our personal experience of being locked down in our cities and homes?Podcast
Throughout history, how we design and inhabit physical space has been a primary defense against epidemics. Our research on the impact of the crisis on the digital infrastructure of cities in Curbed.News
Michele Acuto’s opinion piece for the New Cities foundation on the questions of urban innovation emerging from the pandemicNews
Michele Acuto, Lab Director, contributes in this article to the continued discussion of how cities, hubs for transnational business and movement, have the potential to amplify pandemic risk and could benefit from a pandemic preparedness index to better plan for and respond to epidemic outbreaks. There is currently no such map of city-preparedness around the world.News
Director Michele Acuto was interviewed by Monocle's The Urbanist podcast about cities in quarantine and looking at lessons for COVID-19 from other epidemicsNews
We talked to CityLab on the urban planning implications of the coronavirus crisis, building on the our work with WHO’s regional office for the Western PacificNews
Do more aggressive and unknown outbreaks lie in our future? Prof Michele Acuto talks to BBC Radio.News