The Urban Clinic:
A Knowledge Broker for More Equitable Cities
Students, faculty, practitioners and community groups work together on real-time urban policy and planning issues, to help build more equitable cities in Israel.
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The Urban Clinic at Hebrew University is an academic body that works to strengthen creative and socially aware urban leadership in Israel. The Urban Clinic provides state of the art knowledge about what works in housing, urban regeneration and community planning, to ensure that the current and next generation of urban practitioners are equipped with effective tools and skills, to make our cities truly remarkable places for all. Founded in 2013, the Urban Clinic is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hebrew University, and linked to the Institute of Urban and Regional Studies there.
The Challenge: Harnessing the potential of cities in Israel
Since 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world's population lives in cities. Israel is one of the most urbanized countries, with over 92% of the population living in urban spaces, and, unusually, a large percentage of families with children living in high-rise housing. Cities are increasingly recognized as engines of national wealth and creativity, and hold tremendous potential for solutions to climate change, poverty and social conflict. Good urban practices are documented in a growing international knowledge bank, ranging from transport innovations like cable cars that connect hilltop slums to city jobs, to community development groups who build and own affordable housing. In Israel, however, these exciting international practices are often little known outside the walls of academia. All too often, urban leaders are working in isolation, with little connection to emerging international and local knowledge about what makes cities work better for all.
The Solution: A new generation of urban practitioners
The need is clear and immediate: urban leaders in Israel, including mayors, city planners, educational directors, civic organizations and developers, must have access to state of the art knowledge about what works in cities internationally, as they work together to shape our current and future cities. Further, we must ensure that the next generation of urban practitioners is equipped with effective tools and skills, alongside their more theoretical studies, to make our cities truly remarkable places for all.
The Way: Integrating knowledge, policy and practice
The Urban Clinic at Hebrew University integrates knowledge and practice at three levels:
The urban clinic courses are field-based courses focused on a specific policy or planning question. Most courses are delivered in collaboration with the Jerusalem Community Councils and their in-house community planners and community organizers. Courses in 2016-2017 include “the Public Realm and Social Inclusion”, “Urban Planning for Early Childhood”, and “Planning and Arab society in Israel”.
The Urban Clinic works together with a public sector organization or civil society to develop new knowledge for more equitable cities. The projects often involve building a peer learning network among professionals. Together we investigate local practices, compare these with international good practice and research findings, and develop recommendations for policy and practice in Israel. Current projects include: guidelines for parents and planners on child-friendly neighborhoods, with the Bernard van Leer Foundation; developing national models of community planning teams; place-making in diverse and conflicted areas in Jerusalem, and building a framework for National Urban Policy.
Publications and Research
The Urban Clinic produces accessible reports and publications that aim to advance the field of social planning. Recent reports include: “Placemaking” - a guidebook with profiles of key actors and projects, now used in seminars throughout the country; “Social Aspects of National Urban Regeneration Policy”, based on peer-learning recommendations, many of which have now been incorporated into the new Urban Regeneration Authority; “Social Urbanism”, an edited volume of insights and recommendations from the World Urban Forum in Medellin Colombia, and “National Urban Policy for Israel”, a background review towards the Ministry of Housing National Urban Task Force.
More about the Urban Clinic
HUJI Talks 2016: Dr. Emily Silverman (October 2016)
During HUJI Talks 2016, an inspiring series of short dynamic talks direct from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Emily Silverman, the founding director of The Urban Clinic, gave a fascinating talk: HUJI And The City: An Urban Planning Tale. To watch the full talk>>>