American Cities Rebuilding 2021 Topics

Urban Economy

What will the workplace look like in the American city after the pandemic? Will there be a workplace? American Cities Rebuilding explores the urban economy post-pandemic, for big and small businesses alike, and what that will mean for both employer and employee. We bring together CEOs and shop-owners to talk about how inequities can be addressed between knowledge workers who have location-flexibility and “front-line” workers who do not? How will the small businesses that relied on office workers survive?


The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the wide inequities in healthcare in our cities, and the wide gaps in public health in general. American Cities Rebuilding will invite providers and practitioners to discuss and share specific steps to be taken and what needs to be different this time. How will data and its management and collection play a part? What about partnerships between systems, breaking down the walls of competition?

Cities of the Future

Technology is already driving much of what happens in our cities, from its transportation systems to sanitation coordination. American Cities Rebuilding will talk to technologists, planners and organizers to look at what are the next steps in making our cities still “smarter” without losing sight with the human needs – and privacy — of residents and businesses.


Nothing changed more during the pandemic than how schools operated and teaching and learning took place, especially in our cities where students were virtually all remote from their teachers. Now with students returning to in-person instruction, American Cities rebuilding asks how have urban schools learned their own lessons and will we return to a time of wide chasms in educational opportunity? Will virtual learning be a permanent complement to in-person learning and, if so, have we yet closed the digital divide? We talk to educators and activists, parents and students?

Criminal & Social Justice

The last year has brought a reckoning to all American communities and especially our cities around criminal and social justice. American Cities Rebuilding asks the question: how do we go from reckoning to reality? Police, activists, leaders and others will be brought to the table to share their own best policies and practices. What is the vision for equitable law enforcement? How can law enforcement fulfill its role of protecting life and property while equitably respecting rights of citizens? How can the rights of law enforcement officials themselves be protected? How can more women be attracted to the field of law enforcement?

Making Cities Work

American Cities Rebuilding will invite mayors and other political and corporate leaders to discuss the challenges of a managing and leading a city in crisis and their steps to overcome them. It will be all the issues in focus, from climate change to COVID, what is the playbook or key ingredients to address them and how does it adjust to different populations and visions? A chance for mayors for talk among themselves about where their lessons differ and overlap.

Arts & Culture

Every city’s heart and soul are in arts and culture to drives the community and its economy but no sector has been hit harder through the pandemic as theaters, museums and arenas that were forced literally shut down. American Cities Rebuilding invites cultural leaders, artists, economists and others to discuss how the arts and culture can get back on their feet in our cities. Will workers and talent come back? Will their audience? How have political leaders helped or hurt, from phased-in occupancy to stimulus and other aid?

Housing & Gentrification

America’s cities face no greater – or varied — challenge than in their housing, from the looming crisis of evictions to the balance of gentrification and affordability. American Cities Rebuilding will bring together developers and planners, tenants and landlords, innovators and investors to ask how best to manage this maze of challenges, and what has worked in their cities and what has only worsened the inequities.


As it has for centuries, immigration has been the lifeblood of our cities, but also a near-constant source of tension and battle. American Cities Rebuilding explores the current debate in this enormous issues with experts and others to where immigration is moving, what policies are at work, and what they hold for the cities. The latest data from the US Census provides opportunity to explore specific cities and trends in both in-migration and out-migration.

Climate Change

As coastal waters rise, wildfires flourish and weather grows more unstable, cities have been the frontline in the battle against climate change. See Houston, New York and New Orleans in just this century. American Cities Rebuilding looks at how cities have not just adapted to climate change but taken steps to try to push back, from the use of riverfronts as flooding barriers to measures to fortify infrastructure. Is this enough for the next challenges, where proposals go as far as relocating housing and business? It will also as an opportunity to explore massive renewable energy projects in our cities, including the wind farms, community solar and urban farming.

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