Networking urban innovation in a crisis: reflections from the world’s longest lockdown

10:00-12:00, Dec 07 2021, CST; 04:00-06:00, Dec 07 2021, CET; 13:00-15:00, Dec 07 2021, AEDT

Video for the presentation.

Prof Michele Acuto is an expert of urban governance and international affairs. He is Director of the Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne, where he is also Professor in Urban Politics and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. A keen researcher and practitioner of urban policy and innovation, he recently co-authored Managing Cities at Night, Leading Cities, and How to Build a Global City, and serves as a member of the City of Melbourne’s Nighttime Economy Advisory Committee and as a Senior fellow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Outside academia, Michele has worked as a diplomat on city leadership for the World Bank Group, the European Commission, and the World Health Organisation.


At the outset of 2020 cities were on the rise as increasingly recognizable leaders in the fight against global challenges like climate change. Then the COVID-19 pandemic brought them to a standstill. In many ways, the pandemic challenged the networked nature of cities fundamentally through border closures, lockdowns and social distancing measures. Yet, whilst deeply disrupted, the global mobility of, and local impetus for, urban innovation has not disappeared. Cities the world over have reinvented city networks, recast their engagement with urban science and leveraged new ways of urban experimentation. Reflecting on this changing but enduring landscape from the point of view of the world’s longest locked-down city, Melbourne, this talk looks at the potential urban innovation in an age of crises. In particular, the talk will look at the enduring ambition for change of cities from a networked perspective, the expanding urban challenges to global sustainable development, and a few lessons from balancing global aspirations and practical urban challenges.

Recent publications

  • Acuto, M., & Seijas, A. (2021). Managing Cities at Night: A Practitioner Guide to the Urban Governance of the Night-Time Economy. Policy Press.
  • Pejic, D., & Acuto, M. (2021). Cities: Understanding global urban governance. In Global Governance Futures (pp. 101-114). Routledge.
  • Acuto, M., Larcom, S., Rauch, F., & Willems, T. (2021). What We Learned From the Pandemic: Most of all, it taught us how to adapt under pressure. IEEE Spectrum, 58(8), 22-27.
  • Fuentenebro, P., & Acuto, M. (2021). The gifted city: Setting a research agenda for philanthropy and urban governance. Urban Studies, 00420980211024158.
  • Acuto, M., & Leffel, B. (2021). Understanding the global ecosystem of city networks. Urban Studies, 58(9), 1758-1774.
  • Acuto, M., Kosovac, A., & Hartley, K. (2021). City Diplomacy: Another Generational Shift?. Diplomatica, 3(1), 137-146.