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Harvard Expert to talk about Christchurch’s exciting future

World city expert from Harvard to talk about Christchurch’s exciting future

July 4, 2013

Christchurch's city planners and those driving the rebuild could learn a lot from a Harvard University economics professor’s public lecture at the University of Canterbury (UC) next week.

Professor Edward Glaeser recently published a book, Triumph of the City, based on his work over the past 15 years on what makes cities work.

Professor Glaeser will deliver UC’s Department of Economics and Finance’s annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture at UC next week (July 10). See here for details: http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/wiw/. He is one of the world’s experts on urban economics.

He will address questions such as, what if humanity stopped urbanising? He will also discuss what role cities play in promoting economic growth and what lessons other cities can provide for the Christchurch rebuild.

``I will be talking about cities as the best mechanism for human flourishing. When we live together in well-functioning cities, we are more productive, healthier, and, perhaps surprisingly, more environmentally friendly.

``Cities are our engines of creativity and innovation. Chance interactions among smart, productive people in complementary lines of work that can happen in dense urban environments occasionally create miracles of human creativity.

``We must recognise that if we try to make one neighbourhood greener by stopping new building, we can easily make the world browner by pushing new development to someplace far less environmentally friendly,’’ Professor Glaeser says.

``Cities are often seen as the source of social problems such as poverty and crime, while we retain romantic notions of idyllic rural life. I will discuss why cities are crucial to economic development, why proximity has become ever more valuable as the cost of connecting across long distances has fallen and why, contrary to popular myths, dense urban areas are the true friends of the environment, not suburbia,’’ he says.

In late 2011 Professor Glaeser listed Christchurch as one of 10 global cities to watch, as the rebuild provides `a unique opportunity to rethink urban form’. While in New Zealand, he is meeting with a wide range of groups from academia, local and national government and the private sector.


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