Our history

Uniting the strengths of a number of research groupings, the Manchester Urban Institute is the culmination of an impressive history of urban studies at The University of Manchester spanning more than four decades.

Making a difference to UK cities 

Arthur Lewis Building

Since the 1980s a number of research centres have been established with different urban specialisms in the global north.  The Centre of Urban Policy Studies was formed by Professor Brian Robson in 1983 to develop research on UK urban and regional policy, while in 2000 the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology was set up to address the challenge facing the UK of steering our behaviour, settlements and landscapes towards more sustainable futures. 

Both centres consisted largely of environmental scientists, geographers and planners and where the focus was on cities in the most industrialized economies. Former colleagues such as Michael Bradford, Peter Dicken, Jamie Peck and Adam Tickell contributed to this agenda through their work on urban and regional restructuring in a globalising world. 

A world of cities 

The Global Urban Research Centre and the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC) were each established in 2007, reflecting both the growing number of disciplines working on urban issues and the urbanizing of the global south.  

Anthropologists, architects, development studies scholars, human geographers and planners, working on issues of urban design, housing, informality, inequality and planning, were researching cities in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia and Latin and South America.  

Under Caroline Moser, GURC launched the interdisciplinary MSc Global Urban Development and Planning, which gave graduate students a broad training in the challenges facing cities from around the world.  

A research network

Contrast of old and new buildings

With the growing recognition that the future of cities and the future of the planet were one and the same and that the challenges posed required a move towards more multi-disciplinary teams, so in 2010 the University of Manchester established cities@manchester.

This limited-life initiative brought together anthropologists, architects, economists, educationalists, engineers, geographers, historians, linguists, medics, sociologists and many more disciplines. 

It established the Summer Institute in Urban Studies in 2014 that has run for three years with 75 early career alumni. Through its value enhancing activities the initiative paved the way for the formation of the Manchester Urban Institute. 

The Manchester Urban Institute 

In 2016, given the increasingly important role that cities are playing in addressing many of the most pressing global challenges, The University of Manchester united the strengths of the various centres and groups to create the Manchester Urban Institute.  

MUI is one of largest urban focused research institutes and emphasises the University’s commitment to addressing global inequalities – one of the University’s five research beacons of excellence.