What will Boston look like five, 10, 15 years from now?
That’s the subject of this spring’s Open Classroom series, titled “Shaping Boston’s Future: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges.”
The course—which is free and open to the public—is held on Wednesdays from 6–8 p.m. in 20 West Village F.
It is led by David Luberoff, a visiting professor of the practice in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University and the senior project advisor at the Boston Area Research Initiative. An inter-university research partnership housed at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, BARI seeks to spur policy and social science research in Greater Boston.
“In the past 15 years, Boston has become more affluent, more diverse, and more dynamic. But that growth has also brought increased inequality and lack of opportunities for many of the city’s residents,” Luberoff explained. “The question as we look forward is whether we can find ways to sustain and encourage growth in ways that benefit all of the city’s residents.”
The impetus for the seminar is Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Imagine Boston 2030 initiative, which seeks to create the Hub’s first citywide plan in 50 years. The new planning effort will aim to identify strategies that will preserve, enhance, and grow neighborhoods in ways that promote shared prosperity, encourage sound public investment, and create a healthy environment.
The seminar itself will focus on a range of topics, covering everything from the city’s rapidly changing demography and expanding innovation economy to the high cost of housing and the impact of climate change.
Classes will feature remarks by a mix of public officials, civic leaders, and local scholars. Guest speakers will include Stephanie Pollack, the secretary and chief executive officer of the state’s Department of Transportation, who will discuss key transportation issues in Boston; Julie Burros, Boston’s chief of arts and culture, who will focus on the city’s community-wide effort to harness the creativity of its residents; and Jay Ash, the Massachusetts secretary of housing and economic development, who will examine how Boston can sustain its current boom of economic activity, particularly among its slew of innovative startups.
Several Northeastern faculty members will also participate in the seminar. Barry Bluestone, for example, the Russell B. and Andrée B. Stearns Trustee Professor of Political Economy and the lead author of “The Greater Boston Housing Report Card,” will explore the nature, causes, and potential responses to the city’s high cost of housing. Matthias Ruth, director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, will focus on the city’s environmental plans to combat the impact of climate change, particularly in low-lying areas built on landfill that could be dramatically affected by rising sea levels.
“I love—and believe in the value of—the mutual learning that occurs when scholars, practitioners, and civic leaders come together to discuss shared interests and concerns,” Luberoff said. “Each brings something important to the table and each can learn something from what others have to say.”