STRATEGIC PLAN – December 2015


  1. IUA Mission and Purpose
  2. IUA Goals
  3. IUA Means
  4. IUA Program in Creative Urban Problem Solving
  5. IUA Core of Urban Researchers and Practitioners
  6. IUA Support for the Hopkins Urban Fellows Program
  7. IUA Communication, Networking and Visibility
  8. IUA Support for IUFA Conferences
  9. IUA Financing Strategy


The International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) was conceived by Johns Hopkins Urban Fellows who participated in the 45th IUFA (International Urban Fellows Association) of the Johns Hopkins University in Barcelona, Spain, on June 22-23, 2015. It was conceived as a nonprofit, charitable organization meant to continue and enhance the 45-year tradition of international cooperation and networking in the field of urban planning and policy, in connection with the development of academic programs at Johns Hopkins and international universities.

The Mission of IUA (International Urban Alliance) is to rejuvenate the community of urban Fellows and Associates sharing their urban experience at Hopkins, to expand their geographic coverage, to diversify the multidisciplinary aspect of the community of urban scholars and practitioners, and to educate and mentor the younger associates through direct involvement in solving urban problems creatively in cities internationally.


(1) Creating of a worldwide network of professionals dedicated to state-of-the-art applied research and best practices addressing pressing urban problems.

(2) Cross-national exchange and collaboration among Fellows and between Fellows and urban Associates around the globe at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, at the IUA Regional Centers, and at the IUFA International Annual Conferences.

(3) Developing a multidisciplinary and multicultural approach and methodology for creative urban problem solving.


The corporation is organized exclusively for educational, charitable and scientific purposes, including advancing the field of applied urban research planning and policy by supporting education in the field, and assisting cities internationally. Funds obtained through its 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt status will be used to:

3.1. Offer financial support for continuing IUFA objectives: website/communication, the organization of the Annual Conferences of the International Urban Fellows Association (IUFA) of the Johns Hopkins University, and publishing and disseminating the Conference Proceedings.

3.2. Offer financial support for consulting and technical assistance offered by IUA – Hopkins Fellows and Associates to cities internationally, such as planning workshops, design charrettes, and pilot urban projects.

3.3. Offer financial support for urban studies, research and practice at the Johns Hopkins University and in international urban programs endorsed by IUA. Such programs must be approved by IUA, must address urban planning, policy and development issues, and must be offered in the English language.


The IUA Program is developing a creative, multidisciplinary and multicultural, integrating and participatory approach to solving complex urban development problems.

Applied urban research and consulting/technical assistance to cities will be based on an exchange of best practices and lessons learned on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as Asian cities. The IUA young Fellows studying and engaging in solving urban problems in Baltimore must be aware of subtle social, cultural, racial and ideological features of the urban scene which must be addressed if a transfer of experiences is to be successful.

IUA will support, in partnerships with international groups and companies, the movement for walkability and public and pedestrian-friendly places in American cities downtowns and suburbs, as well as higher density mixed developments, along with social housing and inclusionary zoning initiatives (Leinberger, The Option of Urbanism, Island Press, 2009). In European cities, creative financing, public-public and public-private partnerships and zoning innovations (such as air-rights) and negotiations with developers inspired by American cities experiences could be adapted to urban planning and design. North American cities’ recent evolution can also serve as a warning to European and other international cities about the excesses of automobile use, the exclusivity of “drivable” neighborhoods, suburbs and city downtowns, the danger of exurbia and uncontrolled urban sprawl, and the reduced or even total lack of “walkability”, leading to mass health problems and costs.

If American cities and residential areas can benefit from a trend towards medium density, in European cities, seriously constrained by a scarcity of space, the solutions will most likely be high and very high residential densities, as some Western European cities have experimented with. Opportunities have been identified for IUA to get involved in, and offer consultancy and technical assistance in cities like Baltimore, Barcelona, Bucharest, Sofia and Tbilisi.

Largely neglected so far, because of significant cultural differences, the Asian cities also offer interesting lessons to be absorbed by European and North American urban scholars and planners, in terms of high density residential living, urban places and spaces, urban mobility etc.

Creativity and urban problems solving. Creativity occurs at the intersection of many disciplines, different geographies and different cultures – something we already have in the Hopkins urban fellows and something we will cultivate and enlarge in the International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) with the new generation of fellows and associates.

An example of a “niche” approach to solving urban problems by IUA is the empirical and consensus-building approach to urban analysis, planning and policy, based on data mining, and unique software tools for strategic assessment, SWOT analysis, and group decision support (Enache, Ciapetti, The approach implies creative problem-solving, lateral thinking, brainstorming and focus groups involving planners, decision-makers and stakeholders.

The approach is currently tested in Italian medium-size cities and metropolitan areas, in partnership with the urban consortium of Italian universities (URBAN@IT) and the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT).


Urban Research has always been the focus of Johns Hopkins Fellows’ activities in Baltimore. The 1995 Silver Anniversary Book of the Johns Hopkins International Fellows shows a vast range of research interests and research themes of the close to 300 Hopkins Fellows in the period 1970-2015. While IUFA and the Fellows Program at IHSP can support this variety of individual research themes, the International Urban Alliance (IUA) will be significantly more structured, more coherent and more selective in its approach, with an emphasis on applied research. The IUA applied research efforts must support IUA’s goal of engaging in solving urban problems in American and international cities, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University partners engaged in the urban field: the 21st Century Cities Alliance and the Carey Business School.

We expect IUA to grow into a very active organization, respected, and more reputable every year. If the funds received can help us “open the door” to applied urban research and initial consulting in a city, e.g. planning charrettes and workshops, we can then expect subsequent contractual engagements, most likely in association with our Johns Hopkins Partners, international groups, companies and consortia.

We expect to get prominent Hopkins Urban Fellows involved in IUA, and to attract international experts of repute. Some of IUFA’s most prominent alumni over the years are Pasqual Maragall, who went on to become Mayor of Barcelona and President of the government of Catalunya; Jerzy Regulski, who after the democratization of Poland was elected to the new Senate and named Minister for Local Government Reform; Jean-Marie Ernecq, who was the director of the regional planning agency in the North of France region that includes the French terminus of the Channel Tunnel and is currently the region’s representative in Brussels; Anton Anton, who was the State Secretary of Research in the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research; and Oriol Nello, who is the former Secretary for Territorial Planning for the government of Catalunya.


The International Urban Alliance (IUA) is a vehicle for mentoring by Hopkins Fellows of young and dynamic researchers and practitioners from all over the world working towards finding solutions and new governance, planning and participatory methods to the urban problems that have been created by inappropriate planning or uncontrolled market forces. IUA will ask and answer questions like: what can U.S., European, Asian, and Canadian cities learn from the various expert Fellows in the Program and how can that knowledge be applied internationally?

IUA is taking an active role in recruiting Urban Fellows to spend 2-3 months with the Johns Hopkins University partners engaged in the urban field: the 21st Century Cities Initiative (Dr. Kathryn Edin) and the Carey Business School (Dr. Lindsay Thompson – City Lab). In doing so, IUA is relying on its network of Urban Fellows and its regional centers in Barcelona, Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Hamburg, Ottawa, Gold Coast (Australia) and Shanghai.

IUA will offer the Hopkins Urban Fellow candidates orientation, advice and mentorship and/or an online crash course in U.S. Urban Planning and Policy, with emphasis on the City of Baltimore. One of the Hopkins Urban Fellows of the nineties is currently the Planning Director of the Northeast Division of the Baltimore Planning Department (Carmen Morosan).

In addition to being hosted by, and working with the MS in Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Carey Business School of Johns Hopkins, their City Lab program, as well as the 21st Century Cities Initiative, the cross-university program at Hopkins, IUA will introduce the Urban Fellows to the urban programs at Georgetown University (Uwe Brandes) and Aspen Institute U.S. (Jennifer Bradley – City Lab), as well as the Colvin Institute for Real Estate at the University of Maryland (Margaret McFarland).

IUA will continue to advise the Urban Fellows after their visit in Baltimore, about exchanging good practices with their home city or town in Europe and elsewhere, and will engage them via IUFA annual conferences and expected workshops and pilot projects in U.S., Canadian, European and Asian cities.


Awareness building and community involvement are two practical ways of spreading the lessons of applied research and expert consensus. They will be greatly facilitated by a Communication Platform (website, blogging, and social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Tweeter), capable of involving a wide array of international experts, academics and practitioners as well as representatives of local governments, of NGOs, and lay persons, in fact anyone who is concerned about the “fiscally-threatened” U.S. cities and aging European “agoras”.

The International Urban Alliance, Inc. (IUA) will sign covenants or agreements with third parties (international urban think tanks, urban associations, NGOs, international organizations, administrations of cities), to jointly pursue applied urban research and consulting/technical assistance activities to support its purpose. Specifically, IUA will engage in a sustained activity of developing partnership relations and alliances with international groups, universities and companies involved in urban design, planning, policy and development, such as (tentative list): Johns Hopkins University (by default), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Aspen Institute U.S., Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS, London, 1868), L’Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris, The Urban Consortium of Italian Universities (URBAN@IT), University of Maryland, Georgetown University, University of Ottawa, Spanish Universities, Bartlett School of Planning in London, Griffith University (Australia), the Center of Excellence in Planning (CEP) in Bucharest, Urban groups and planners in the Black Sea countries, as well as partnerships and alliances with Asian universities.

IUA is currently in the process of signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Urban Consortium of Italian Universities (URBAN@IT) to recruit and send Italian urban researchers and practitioners as Urban Fellows at Johns Hopkins.

IUA, URBAN@IT and ISTAT (the Italian Institute of Statistics) will sign an agreement and establish a task force to apply participatory decision support tools developed by Hopkins Fellows and Census tract data to analyze Italian cities and metropolitan areas. Following demonstrations in March 2016 of the MapDecision software application using Census tract data for a test Italian city, three medium-size Italian cities from the Emilia Romagna province will be piloted jointly by IUA and URBAN@IT with ISTAT.


IUA will have a major role in improving the contents and the quality of the IUFA Annual Conferences, and increasing IUFA and IUA visibility and reputation internationally. Other than financial support to improve the resources and the organization of the Conferences, IUA will feed the best results in urban research and consulting/assistance to cities for presentation in the conferences. It can also bring to the IUFA Conferences IUA partners, and top urban researchers and practitioners.

IUA will support more structured IUFA conferences, new conference formats (e.g., call for papers; publication of papers) and the publication of the Conference Proceedings volumes. The annual international IUFA Conferences should report on the best work by the Fellows, and on the cooperative research results at IUA, along with case studies from American, Canadian, European and Asian cities, best practices, lessons learned and successfully implemented sustainable urban policies.


The IUA financing strategy is two-pronged:

  1. Securing donations, sponsorships and grants to support itself, the IUFA conferences, and initial demonstration workshops (planning/design “charrettes”, pilot projects) in international cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
  2. Engaging in partnerships and alliances with international professional groups to deploy consulting and technical assistance in those cities.

A detailed fundraising campaign will be designed in conjunction with developing the IUA Corporate Capability.

Funds will also be raised independently by the IUA Regional Centers. They will also actively pursue business opportunities in projects financed from European funds and other sources, and will suggest business partnerships, consortia and alliances to allow for bidding successfully in such projects.