The Project

Harvard University's Graduate School of Design is hosting Transforming Urban Transport—The Role of Political Leadership, a research project sponsored by Volvo's Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) and led by GSD Professor Diane Davis. This project seeks to advance our knowledge of how, when, and where political leadership has been critical to the successful implementation of path-breaking transportation policies. It will do so through case study research of 8-10 cities where political leadership has been central to the adoption and implementation of significant, transformative, and innovative transportation policies in their locales. By asking how, why, and under what conditions political leaders have been able to overcome obstacles—whether in the form of bureaucratic inertia, citizen opposition, transport provider intransigence, or other such factors—the research insights that will emerge from this project should have significant practical application. Most notably, we hope that they will facilitate the adoption and implementation of transformative transportation policies more widely in cities around the world. We aim as well to generate new scholarly insights about leadership, not just in transportation but more broadly in 21st century urban governance as well.