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Future of cities


February 2024

University of Pennsylvania

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2023 Theme

CONNECTING CITIES TO THE FUTURE: Transformations through Equity, 

Technology, and Infrastructure

Around the world, COVID disrupted the way we live, work, and learn. Now, as we optimistically – yet cautiously – move forward, we are left to wonder: what is the future of cities? What will the next generation of cities look like? What technologies will they employ? Who will they serve? And how will they be funded? This conference both explores how COVID galvanized urban innovation that has enabled our cities to be more connected than ever before and the challenges of our time. Over the course of the day, our panels of experts will explore the strategies around and the impact of heightened connectivity in our cities.


WE LOOK TOWARDS CITIES IN THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT. As cities push towards the future, strategies to address climate change are imperative within existing cities. New infrastructure solutions and upgraded roads and walkways that support tomorrow’s mobility solutions are critical. At the same time, cities grapple for ways to reconnect its various communities, many of whom have been affected by systemic fractures in the past. By removing the barriers to basic services, cities can promote and advance equitable access to promote strong communities.


WE WILL TURN TO TECHNOLOGY, WHICH IN MANY WAYS FUELS OUR NEXT GENERATION OF CITIES. In the professional world, for example, the shift towards remote and hybrid work has enabled a workforce in growing numbers to work together regardless of where they live. We seek to examine where these trends are taking us and what role the city continues to play. We will then delve into how new technologies, such as virtual reality, are changing how we design and build cities. What are the possible implications for cities and how will the communication infrastructure that underpins these developments be rolled out?


WE WILL DISCUSS THE SHARED NATURE OF ADDRESSING URBAN CHALLENGES IN A GLOBAL WORLD. As cities become more connected, cities around the world face increasingly shared challenges. From immigration to climate change to pandemics, these mounting issues also mean that there are growing opportunities for urban leaders across cultures to learn from each other. Wharton’s 2023 Future of Cities Conference will bring together policy makers, industry experts, technologists, entrepreneurs, researchers, and other thought leaders to the University of Pennsylvania to discuss their successes and challenges, striving to bridge cultures towards shared learnings.

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