New Urban Progress April 21, 2022


Trip to Chicago, Denver and Austin

Half a year after the study trip to Germany in October 2021, we are looking forward to the next highlight in the transatlantic exchange project New Urban Progress: From 21 April to 30 April, fellows from Germany and the United States are visiting Chicago, Denver, and Austin in the US. 
Cities are seismographs of socio-economic trends. They depict society in a microcosm. Thus, focusing on the examples provided by cities, we can explore effects of the pandemic, climate change, digitalization or migration on society, and can understand structures of social inequalities or the persistence of populism from a local perspective.  
New Urban Progress is a transatlantic dialogue on how urban areas can be more innovative, democratic, and sustainable. By exchanging best practices and collaborating on bold solutions, young urban leaders from Germany and the United States are working on how to deliver social and economic progress while renewing the transatlantic partnership at the city level. 
During the trip to the US, the fellows will discover hands-on the trends and challenges of urban development for progressive social change. While the trip to Germany took place just after the federal election, this trip happens in the context of upcoming midterm elections. The fellows will meet the mayors’ offices, explore the cities by bike and walking tours, and discuss urban developments with community organizations.  
The three cities Chicago, Denver, and Austin display the many faces of the United States: 

  • Chicago is one of the largest cities in the US. About 2.7 million people live in the ‘Windy City’. Chicago is, next to New York, a financial hub and not only known for its architectural skyline and world-renowned sport teams, but also for its Black and Latinx communities. Chicago was one of the birth places of the civil rights movement in the 1960s as one of its key figures, Martin Luther King Jr., led the Chicago Freedom Movement. However, Chicago struggles to this day with social inequality and social segregation. Chicago’s core challenges include housing insecurity, police violence, crime, and inequitable public transport. 
  • Denver is the capital of Colorado and has grown into a desirable, economically prosperous urban hub in the Midwest. In the last 30 years, Denver has doubled its population from 1.5 million to nearly 3 million inhabitants. However, the rapid population growth has raised questions with regard to affordable housing and gentrification. Moreover, Denver is also challenged by the effects of climate change.
  • Austin is the fastest growing city in the United States. Frequently coined ‘Silicon Hills’, Austin has been lauded as the next technological hub, attracting entrepreneurs and businesses from California to Texas. However, while gaining in business and economic growth, Austin is challenged by increasing housing prices, stagnant wages, and a growing homelessness crisis. At the same time, Austin also has a growing workers’ movement. In particular, young professionals in the tech industry are increasingly engaged in union activities and foster unionizing. 

Highlights of the programme are, for example, a meeting with Samir Mayekar at the mayor’s office in Chicago, a tour on land-use and housing politics in Austin, a discussion with the Smart Cities and Colorado Smart Cities Alliances in Denver, and a transatlantic dinner. 

The trips provide the possibility for the fellows to get to know best practices in the US and draw comparisons to their transatlantic counterparts. Their experiences will be integrated in their group work reflections and will be published in the final publications that will be launched in Summer 2022. 

For more information, contact Alexandra Hunger.