The Urban Project

The Challenge of 2050


The Urban Project is a response to a set of alarming demographic and environmental projections. During the lifetime of students currently entering universities, the world’s population is expected to grow from 6 to 9.2 billion people, and they will be involved in a mass migration. Whereas, in 2000, more than 50% lived in rural communities, by 2050 75% will be crowded into cities. Although there are at present only four megacities of 18 million or more, by mid-century there will be at least forty.*

Without rapid deployment of major new innovations, per capita energy consumption in new urban areas in the developing world is expected to be at least five times that for current rural communities. Carbon emissions, waste output, and pollution will be unacceptably high, and social and economic problems will become far more complex and intractable, particularly for the poor.


The Urban Project seeks to educate a new kind of professional, one moved by, and well versed in, the challenges that will unfold both in the United States and elsewhere in the world.


Co-Chairs of the Urban Project: Donald Stump (Director of the Micah Program), Robert Cropf (Chair of Public Policy Studies), Richard Colignon (Chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice).


To make common cause to improve undergraduate recruiting and education in this area, strengthen graduate programs and research, and raise SLU's visibility nationally as a place to study urban problems. 

Steps already taken

  • Collaboration on funded research projects

  • Coordinated undergraduate recruiting campaign employing the nationwide Micah recruiting network

  • Urban Project mentoring and support in the Micah Learning Community

  • Introductory course in Exploring Urban Vocations and interdisciplinary Minor in Urban Social Analysis.

Proposed future steps

  • Five-year M.A. recruiting, creating web and print publicity on the many possibilities for studying  urban problems at SLU in a wide range of disciplines. Coordination among units to identify and publicize internships and student research opportunities

  • Megacities Prize, a national contest for interdisciplinary teams focused on a future urban problem

  • International Congress on the Urban Future, an annual multi-disciplinary conference at SLU

  • Center for Interdisciplinary Urban Studies at SLU

  • Enhanced community relationships with municipalities, agencies, and NGOs in the St. Louis region to place SLU graduates in public-policy and urban-development positions.

Participating Undergraduate Units

American Studies - Community Organization, Education

Civil Engineering - Urban Design and Engineering

Communication Sciences and Disorders - Education, Healthcare

Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Economics - Business, Environment, Healthcare

Educational Studies - Education

Nutrition and Dietetics - Community Organization, Education, Environment, Healthcare, Social Services

Occupational Therapy

Pre-Law Studies - Education, Law

Political Science - Community Organization, Criminal Justice, Housing, Law, Public Service

Public Health/Community Health - Environment, Healthcare, Social Services

Public Policy Studies - Community Organization, Environment, Housing, Law, Public Service, Social Service, Transportation

Social Work - Community Organization, Criminal Justice, Healthcare, Housing, Public Service, Social Service

Sociology and Criminal Justice - Criminal Justice, Environment, Housing, Social Service

Participating Graduate Units

Center for Sustainability

School of Law

School of Medicine


*Statistics based on data from the Population Reference Bureau of the United Nations.