What is Urban Theory?
Urban Theory is the belief that cities should advance innovation and well-being for everyone, everywhere. We are an innovation and social impact studio helping mission based organizations explore, discover, and deploy community led solutions. Our organization builds on the benefits of cross-sectoral partnerships and human centered design in addressing complex and multifaceted social and economic challenges.
We help organizations and stakeholders to innovate within constraints by providing research and human capacity to advance new ideas; a safe space for design and experimentation; and a supported process to design, incubate, and evaluate social innovation projects. We invest in local leadership capacity and use a human-centered framework to foster creative problem solving, enable the cross-pollination of ideas, and lay the foundation for future innovations.
Our cities are growing, and our urban population is steadily increasing. By 2050, the world will be a majority urban population, bringing with it distinct and unique challenges.
The issues we face are daunting. They are too big to do alone and require a new type of thinking and problem solving to address. Resources are limited and activities are often tied to specific project-based outcomes.
We imagine a future, where well-being is common, our environment is healthy, and wealth is shared. We see our victory in the tool-kits we leave behind for future generations to innovate. Impact is our currency, and we look to define our legacy based on the lives that we improve.
We embrace human centered design and use it as a framework to help guide our actions. It allows us to build genuine connections with those we aim to help and develop community led solutions.
Radical Collaboration: To inspire creative thinking, we bring together practitioners from all disciplines, perspectives, and backgrounds. Different points of view are key in discovering solutions. Our methods become a shared language for groups to navigate the ups and downs of complex challenges.
Live by Doing: Talking is the easy part, now we must put all these great ideas into action. We embrace experimentation and failure as opportunities to gain new insights.
Be Ambitious: There is no single answer to a challenge. Each is complex and ambiguous. The solutions are uncertain and unclear and require big ideas and creative risk.
Openness: We are authentically intentional and transparent with our work. Our work is shared openly to aid in future innovations. The work does not end with us.
Care: We build positive, fulfilling relationships to align each stakeholder with purpose. Our work shows genuine care for society as well as for the planet.
Embrace the Facts: Though we dabble in storytelling and mobilizing solutions for a better world, we embrace the factual details of our work. We are a data informed organization, and the facts help guide our decisions.
Discover Possibilities: We're committed to understanding the issues and identifying promising solutions to complex problems. We bring together people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds to engage and reveal the unknown aspects of the challenges we aim to solve. We have created initiatives like our City Talk and Design Blitz to help create a shared language.
Build and Enhance Capacity: Through our network of partners, develops shared scalable strategies to address the complexities of these difficult challenges. Our approach fosters collaboration to maximize potential towards collective impact. We develop in-person learning formats, engage future talent, and provide tools to help practitioners build capacity, apply our innovative approach, and evaluate results.
Empower the Community: Through grassroots efforts and effective engagement strategies we provide options for communities to be key contributors to the issues they are most effected by and co-create solutions to improve their well-being. We develop community forums and keep a constant dialogue with those we serve.
Deploy Scalable Solutions: Our approach is focused on building scale and sustainability to ensure as broad an impact as possible. Through our collective impact model, project-based funding, and our emphasis on experimentation we will expedite and test new concepts in sync with the challenge at hand.