Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon

September 20, 2018 - September 22, 2018

Cambridge, MA United States

Free, offered in English

There are very few signs that slums will transition out of the urban landscape in the foreseeable future. Even after more than one and a half centuries of policy interventions, starting from efforts to address the effects of industrialization in Europe, slums persist in almost every geography on the planet. Slums are not only visible in the Global South, but are reappearing in old and new manifestations in the Global North. Their persistence can be linked to a number of political and economic failures to effectively address poverty and inequality, distorted land markets, and systemic social exclusion. These failures are, in turn, rooted in the very way policymakers, global media, and intellectuals conceptualize and represent how, why, and by whom slums are produced, maintained, and reproduced. Slums continue to be imagined as urban aberrations, something that falls outside of (or delinked from) urban ecologies.

“Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon” is a symposium being held at Harvard University, September 20–22, 2018, that will challenge participants to discuss the range of perceptions and systemic changes needed to re-imagine integrative urban and social landscapes, as well as the labor and land markets that most often underpin the formation of slums. Organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Urban Planning and DesignHarvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the symposium seeks to advance new policy, financial, design, and educational tools that can both improve existing slums and generate alternatives to future ones.

A diverse group of academic, policy, design and media experts, as well as community representatives will bridge historically siloed narratives about slums and discuss innovative ways to address them. View the agenda for a full list of speakers.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public (registration required), will be held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) and the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS). It starts on the evening of Thursday, September 20, with a keynote about the representation of slums in film and media at the Harvard GSD and continues on Friday and Saturday, September 21 and 22, at CGIS with full days of presentations and discussions.


September 20, 2018 - September 22, 2018
Registration Period
August 20, 2018 - September 19, 2018
Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS)
Cambridge, MA United States
Registration Fee


Economics, Inequality, Informal Land Markets, Poverty, Public Policy, Urban, Urban Upgrading and Regularization