The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is a university-wide body that informs urban decision-making and public policy on issues of sustainable urban growth and development based on multi-disciplinary research, instruction, and outreach.

As the global population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national, and international levels. Affiliated with all 12 schools of the University of Pennsylvania and with the world of practice, Penn IUR fosters collaboration among scholars and policymakers across disciplines to address the needs of an increasingly urbanized society. By providing a forum for collaborative scholarship and instruction at Penn and beyond, Penn IUR stimulates research and engages with urban practitioners and policymakers to inform urban policy.


Penn IUR was founded in 2004 by Co-Directors Eugenie L. Birch and Susan M. Wachter, in the context of former Penn President Judith Rodin’s landmark revitalization of Penn’s West Philadelphia neighborhood. In recent years, the Institute has been guided by the key values of current President Amy Gutmann’s Penn Compact: engaging locally and globally, increasing access, and integrating knowledge.

In carrying out its mission, Penn IUR is a convener, voice and laboratory as it develops knowledge in three critical areas: exploring innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable and inclusive 21st-century city; and understanding the role of anchor institutions in urban places.


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