Dr. Ted Landsmark is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. He also serves as Director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy within the school. This year, the Dukakis Center initiates the Just Cities Forums to increase a regional policy-making dialogue. Dr. Landsmark’s vision for the Forums is to bring scholars and policymakers from diverse disciplines together, to share their thoughts about policies that have pragmatic social and economic outcomes. The theme for the 2018 forums is transportation equity in the Greater Boston area.
Economic policies and technological changes over recent decades have increased inequality in our society. Inequality leads to negative social disruption and affects various social fabrics such as public health, well-being, and prosperity. Working towards just cities enables policymakers to rebalance the economic properties in order to make fundamental changes in our society and work towards equality. The Just Cities Forums offer a chance to discuss global solutions to local problems, such as how traditional cultural protocols can transcend technological solutions for meeting human needs.
Under his direction of the Dukakis Center, Dr. Landsmark has brought to the School his wealth of expertise in urban design, higher education administration, community-based economic development, historic preservation, and African American art and artisanry. Under his leadership, the Dukakis Center is expanding its primary research and analytical focuses on social justice, inclusion, and equity. As an instructor of the Myra Kraft Open Classroom (weekly sessions held every Wednesday and open to the general public and students), Dr. Landsmark has brought together scholars, policy-makers, equality activists, students, and the public to discuss issues of equity flows from Boston’s emphasis on racial equity in addressing urban resilience. The Just Cities Forums is a corollary to the Open Classroom.
Dr. Landsmark has directed his life in ways to help historically underrepresented groups succeed, to help them manage their lives and communities from a position of confidence and strength. Dr. Landsmark believes that the Just Cities Forums bring these philosophical foundations into practice. In his words:
We need to appreciate the negative circumstances and events in our lives that shape and sometimes inhibit our abilities to take advantage of opportunities that may be presented to us. Those of us with privileges of birth or environment that enable us to advance our lives, have an obligation to share what we have in time and resources with those less privileged than ourselves, if we are to be socially ethical and sensitive to the needs of everyone in the communities we are a part of. Shared accountability is essential to sustaining our communities into the future. All of us at Northeastern for example, from staff who clean up our facilities at night or maintain our security, to students, faculty, and administrators, have an obligation to care about every individual within our community and outside of it. Just Cities values incorporate acceptance, aspiration, identity and the ability to make choices, democratic engagement, fairness, social mobility, resilience, and human rights.