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‘On Cities’ Examines the Past, Present, and Future of Life in Cities

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    India’s Mumbai, featured in the documentary On Cities. Photo by Ed Talavera.

    What makes one city more attractive than another? Why have some cities flourished and others stalled? What will the cities of the future look like?

    By 2050 about two-thirds of the world’s population of 7 billion people will be living in urban areas, creating super cities bustling with energy and promise. Yet the growth of these grand metropolises will impact the environment and quality of life, and will create serious implications for the conservation of natural resources. The world could be faced with severe gridlock, overpopulation, water scarcity, and a dwindling food supply.

    On October 22, The Knight Center for International Media at the University of Miami School of Communication will host On Cities, an international virtual gathering and ongoing initiative featuring forward thinkers, innovators, and citizens around the world to discuss what makes or breaks cities, the future of life in cities, and to launch collaborative initiatives to find solutions to urban challenges. Event partners include Nightly Business Report (NBR), UM’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement, and the UM School of Architecture.

    Moderated by KQED San Francisco radio news anchor and School of Communication alumnus Joshua Johnson, On Cities takes place at 9 a.m. EST and 3 p.m. EST in the Storer Auditorium at UM’s School of Business Administration, 5250 University Drive, Coral Gables. The event streams live at

    “Cities are changing very quickly and though it’s not something people think about often, it affects us all,” says award-winning filmmaker and School of Communication Professor Sanjeev Chatterjee, the event’s organizer. “The goal of On Cities is to encourage people to really look at their city, think about what the present and emerging challenges are, what we can learn from the past, and what the visions for the future are.”

    Audience members will include people across the world. Partner venues include Emerson College in Boston, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Salzburg Academy for Media and Global Change in Washington, D.C., and Young India Fellowship, among others. Apart from contributing to the October 22 events, these international institutions will also participate in research and media projects focusing on the future of cities over the next year.

    The UM event features a special preview of Chatterjee’s nonverbal short film, also called On Cities. Filmed in Petra, São Paulo, Mumbai, and Masdar City, On Cities is a visual meditation on cities past, present, and future.

    In addition, prominent international figures from the fields of architecture, urban design, technology, and health care will share insight.

    NBR, Nightly Business Report—seen on over 500 stations nationally—and PBS have always been leaders in communicating to our audience information on important issues facing our society,” adds Rick Ray, CEO of NBR. “With On Cities we have programming content that will educate and inform people about the problems and opportunities that we face with these fascinating centers of culture and enterprise. We are pleased to join the University of Miami in this effort.”

    Directly following the film screening, the Knight Center will launch an international short film contest encouraging city dwellers around the world to tell their experiences and challenges with living an urban life and share creative solutions to unchecked urbanization in their city. The best videos will be posted on the On Cities website.

    For a preview of the event, visit

    For more information, visit or contact


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