New Urban Progress

Both the United States and Europe are confronting a rising tide of illiberal populism that needs a bold and collaborative response. We believe cities are rising actors that can deliver the necessary answers to this, and other global issues. They can also serve as a vehicle for relaunching a transatlantic dialogue, based on collaboration and progressive values. The New Urban Progress project will connect city leaders and urban experts across the Atlantic to develop a sustainable and equitable vision for cities and metro areas in Germany and the United States.

Developing a Future Vision for German and U.S. Cities

Across the United States and Europe, metropolitan regions have emerged as hubs of public innovation and collaborative problem-solving. A new model for progressive governance is emerging from some of our most dynamic cities, large and small.

This urban uprising yields instructive insights for local and national policymakers in the United States and Europe. Both confront a rising tide of illiberal populism and would benefit from learning more about what creative cities on both sides of the Atlantic are doing to renew liberal democracy from the ground up. Our project will focus on the city as a laboratory and experimental area for three topics:

  1. Inclusive growth and sustainable innovation (energy transition, climate action, digital transformation),
  2. Networked governance and democracy (multi-stakeholder governance, citizen participation, democratic innovations), and
  3. Sustainable development and social mobility (equal opportunity and addressing inequality as well as accessibility of public services).

By launching a transatlantic dialogue with young leaders, political practitioners, urban policy experts, journalists, and civil society actors from both sides of the Atlantic, we want to answer the following questions:

  • How can cities promote economic innovation and entrepreneurship, while working to carve out distinctive niches in the global economy?
  • How are cities pioneering a “networked governance” that supports a broad array of civic actors in getting things done?
  • How are cross-sector metro coalitions finding creative ways to deal with the challenges of inclusive growth, social mobility, and affordable housing?

We want to contribute to the German-U.S. rapprochement by complementing intergovernmental diplomatic efforts with citizen diplomacy, emphasizing people-to-people exchanges. We want to engage young Germans and U.S.-Americans in a dialogue on contemporary social, cultural, and economic phenomena present in all post-industrial multicultural societies and through this lens, focus on what we have in common, instead of divisions.


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Contact Persons


Diego Rivas

Elisabeth Mansfeld is the leading the New Urban Progress project for the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft.

Elisabeth Mansfeld


Crystal Swann