21st Century Cities Initiative

The 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is the campus hub for research, education, engagement, and outreach related to expanding economic opportunity for urbanites in developed and developing nations. Urban economic growth and quality of life hinges on the skills and health of the local populace. In the age of “big data”, the ever increasing abundance of data allows for a precise investigation of the causes and consequences of both urban economic growth and urban poverty.

At a time of rising income inequality and increased political polarization, it is essential to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to devise policies, incentives, interventions, and legislation that facilitate inclusive economic growth. Given JHU’s long standing academic strengths in social science, business, public health, data science, and engineering, 21CC provides an interdisciplinary platform for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to collaborate with policymakers, private industry, city government departments, NGO practitioners, and academics and researchers at other universities and institutes to identify and devise solutions to pressing social challenges.

Working in concert with these groups, we seek to identify new strategies and learn best practices from cities around the world to enhance the vibrancy of our home town of Baltimore and to bring the knowledge gained here to other cities. We rely on formal statistical hypothesis testing to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences of different policies.

The wellbeing of all urban residents is incumbent on a thriving economy that grows local businesses that create quality jobs. Baltimore’s labor force and employment growth has remained low in recent years, ranking in the lowest quartile among peer regions. With this in mind, the 21st Century Cities Initiative has focused on the issue of small business financing and economic development in Baltimore City. 21CC has been working with government agencies, local investors, financial institutions, small business owners, policymakers, and technical assistance providers to map the financial system for small businesses in the city over the past decade. This research has begun to raise questions around what elements comprise a robust small business economy in a city by investigating financing programs, technical assistance, job training, R&D, regional clusters, transportation networks, and more. By working with economic development stakeholders, we aim to move Baltimore City forward by providing insights and identifying best practices from peer cities.

Partnering to Improve Cities

21CC is a critical part of Johns Hopkins University’s larger efforts to support and strengthen Baltimore and other cities with similar challenges. As Baltimore’s largest anchor institution, Johns Hopkins takes seriously its obligations as an employer, real estate holder and economic engine. The university oversees a number of community building initiatives, such as inclusive neighborhood revitalization strategies surrounding its campuses, local hiring and purchasing programs, and live where you work subsidies for employees.

We work closely with more than 200 Johns Hopkins faculty members across disciplines who are interested in issues related to cities 21CC coordinates with the various research efforts across the university in developing and implementing its research, convening and policy activities.

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21CC Staff

  • Matthew E. Kahn
    Matthew E. Kahn Director, 21CC, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and Carey Business School

  • Bruce Hamilton Emeritus Professor of Economics and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics

    Krieger School of  Arts & Sciences

  • Denise DiPasquale
    Denise DiPasquale Senior Fellow
  • Mac McComas Program Coordinator
  • Vrshank Ravi
    Vrshank Ravi Researcher
  • Rhiannon Jerch
    Rhiannon Jerch Post-Doctoral Researcher
  • Mary Miller Senior Fellow

Steering Committee

  • Robert Blum
    Robert Blum William H. Gates Sr. Professor, Chair, Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Director, Urban Health Institute

    Bloomberg School of Public Health

  • Tamas Budavari
    Tamas Budavari Associate Professor, Applied Math and Statistics

    Whiting School of Engineering

  • Filipe Campante
    Filipe Campante Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor, International Economics and Economics

    School of Advanced International Studies and Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

  • Andrew Cherlin
    Andrew Cherlin Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor, Department Chair, Department of Sociology, Director, Hopkins Population Center

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

  • Stefanie DeLuca
    Stefanie DeLuca James Coleman Professor of Sociology & Social Policy, Co-Director, Poverty and Inequality Research Lab

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

  • Deborah Gross
    Deborah Gross Professor, Leonard and Helen Stulman Endowed Chair

    School of Nursing

  • Lingxin Hao
    Lingxin Hao Professor, Sociology

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

  • Jeanne Hitchcock
    Jeanne Hitchcock Special Advisor to the Vice President

    Government and Community Affairs

  • Robert Lieberman
    Robert Lieberman Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Political Science

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

  • Robert Moffitt
    Robert Moffitt Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Department Chair, Economics

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

  • Nicholas Papageorge
    Nicholas Papageorge Broadus Mitchell Assistant Professor, Economics

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

  • Craig Pollack
    Craig Pollack Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management

    Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine

  • Phillip Phan
    Phillip Phan Alonzo and Virginia Decker Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship

    Carey Business School

  • Darlene Saporu
    Darlene Saporu Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering

  • Emilia Simeonova
    Emilia Simeonova Assistant Professor, Economics

    Carey Business School

  • Lester Spence
    Lester Spence Associate Professor, Political Science

    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

  • Sabine Stanley
    Sabine Stanley Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences

    Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

  • Lindsay Thompson
    Lindsay Thompson Associate Professor, Director, CityLab

    Carey Business School

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