Societal, environmental, and technological transformations accentuate themselves in dense settings, pushing cities and metropolitan regions to the forefront of tackling complex policy problems. Whether responding to climate change, migration, poverty, or limited land availability, or aiming to generate sustainable development and inclusive technological transformations, cities tend to be policy innovators of global importance. This also means that contemporary confrontations between public and private property and land, between participation and exclusion, wealth and poverty, and emerging technology and existing economic, social, and political structures assume physical form in cities. Thus, cities and their policies are essential objects of study if we want to understand contemporary transformations.
In this broad research project, we study urban policies with an empirical and conceptual lens. Conceptually, we explore what it means to study policies and the policy process on an urban scale compared, for example, to the national scale. Empirically, we study urban policies in response to global ecological, economic, and demographical transformations. These urban policy responses include urban environmental policies and their co-ordination in metropolitan regions, economic development and locational policies of cities of different sizes and with different economic characteristics, and urban policies in support of irregular migrants (so-called sanctuary city policies).