With Shoji screens dec­o­rating Northeastern’s Alumni Pavilion and a translator’s booth in the corner, nearly two-​​dozen senior munic­ipal offi­cials from Hangzhou, China, recently engaged in a series of dis­cus­sions with experts on urban issues affecting cities across the world.

The week­long con­fer­ence was the first con­vened by the World Class Cities Part­ner­ship, a new ini­tia­tive out of Northeastern’s School of Social Sci­ence, Urban Affairs and Public Policy. The ini­tia­tive is aimed at con­vening inter­na­tional groups of city offi­cials and spe­cial­ists, uni­ver­sity fac­ulty, stu­dents, and policy inno­va­tors from met­ro­pol­itan areas world­wide to iden­tify mutu­ally impor­tant urban issues. The goal is to estab­lish pro­duc­tive part­ner­ships between uni­ver­si­ties and gov­ern­ment agen­cies to help address com­plex prob­lems such as edu­ca­tion, job cre­ation and eco­nomic development.

North­eastern alumnus Michael Lake, exec­u­tive director of World Class Cities, says the con­fer­ence was a step toward building a rela­tion­ship with Hangzhou that focuses on improving quality of life for res­i­dents of both cities.

Hosting this del­e­ga­tion of senior munic­ipal offi­cials from Hangzhou has served to fur­ther unite our two cities by strength­ening our existing con­nec­tions, fos­tering new rela­tions and learning from one another’s chal­lenges and suc­cesses” Lake explains. “It is this sharing of knowl­edge and best prac­tices to address urban issues that forms the core of the World Class Cities Partnership.”

As part of the series of events, Chi­nese del­e­gates heard from a variety of Mass­a­chu­setts’ top-​​ranking direc­tors and CEOs, including John Palmieri, director of the Boston Rede­vel­op­ment Authority, Lisa Sig­nori, director of admin­is­tra­tion and finance for Boston, and Jeremy Segal, director of busi­ness devel­op­ment at the Cambridge-​​based Akami Tech­nolo­gies. They dis­cussed issues ranging from urban plan­ning and edu­ca­tion to eco­nomic devel­op­ment and high technology.

The del­e­gates also toured local high-​​tech com­pa­nies, middle schools, the site of the Big Dig, and the Parkman House, the cer­e­mo­nial res­i­dence of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

The con­fer­ence was a suc­cess, says Barry Blue­stone, director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy at North­eastern. He goes on to empha­size the impor­tance of estab­lishing rela­tion­ships such as this one with other cities across the globe—especially in today’s highly com­pet­i­tive global economy.

We hope through the World Class Cities Part­ner­ship that Boston and Hangzhou, as well as other cities like ours, will be able to work together to find the best ways, the best prac­tices, for enhancing our ability to attract new tech­nology and new firms and create good jobs and a good com­mu­nity for all of our cit­i­zens,” he says.