Jane Jacobs Lecture

The Jane Jacobs Lecture explores the challenges of political and community leadership in the urban context. Speakers are selected for their expertise and practice of creating diverse and vital communities, particularly in urban areas. Senator Cory Booker (NJ), then the Mayor of Newark, delivered the inaugural Jane Jacobs Lecture.

Jane Jacobs

About Jane Jacobs

Urbanologist and architectural critic, Jane Jacobs (1916-2009) attended Columbia University's School of General Studies and became an associate editor at Architectural Forum magazine in 1952. The Death and Life of Great American Cities was her most well-known book (1961). Jacobs was also an activist and was arrested in 1968 after she disrupted a public meeting about the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a project she opposed. Jacobs moved to Toronto with her family in 1969 in part due to her objection to the Vietnam War. She quickly became an influential figure in Toronto and soon after her arrival helped to stop plans for the construction of the Spadina Expressway. Jacobs was nominated to the Order of Canada in 1996 for her work on urban development. Her last book, Dark Age Ahead, was published in 2004.

An extentive collection of Jane Jacobs' papers and work are currently housed in the Burns Library archives.

Dick and Jane—and Boston College: An Urban Story


FALL 2019

Abdul El-Sayed

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed
Public Health Expert
Health Commissioner, City of Detroit (2015-2017)

Building Thriving Urban Communities: The Educational, Economic, and Public Health Impact

Tuesday, September 24, 2019
5:30 PM | The Heights Room (Corcoran Commons)

Named “The new Obama” by The Guardian, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician and public health expert who ran to be the first Muslim-American governor of Michigan, ever. His campaign excited Americans, with his focus on public health, education, diversity, and dialogue. 

Before running for governor, El-Sayed served as Health Commissioner in Detroit, where he rebuilt Detroit’s Health Department after it had been privatized during the city’s municipal bankruptcy. At 30, he was the youngest health official in a major US City. Under his leadership, the Department created a program to provide every child in the city with a free pair of glasses; stood up to corporate polluters, forcing them to reduce emissions and invest in parks; and had every school, daycare, and Head Start building tested for lead in the water. He was responsible for multiplying city funding for public health tenfold, and attracting millions of dollars in grants. Under his direction, the Department became a national leader in public health innovation.

Prior to his work in public service, El-Sayed was tenure-track faculty member at Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology; Director of the Columbia University Systems Science Program, and co-Director of Global Research for Population Health. El-Sayed holds a Doctorate in Public Health from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, as well as an MD from Columbia University. He graduated with Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan (where he was also a starting defenseman on the Men’s Lacrosse team). At graduation, El-Sayed was selected to deliver the Student Commencement Address alongside President Clinton, who said of him, “I just wish every person in the world could have heard you speak today.” 

El-Sayed's spring 2020 release of Moral Medicine will draw on his unique experiences in epidemiology, public health, and progressive politics to analyze the major challenges facing Americans and the American political system.