USA Alumnus Jonathan Hursh Making A Difference Around the World
In March, Mitchell College of Business students met with Jonathan Hursh, a 2004 graduate and recent recipient of the USA National Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Mr. Hursh is the creator and founder of Utopia, an urban planning enterprise working to redesign metropolitan slum areas and to improve the lives of disadvantages citizens across the globe.
According to Hursh, Migrants are moving from the countryside to the city at an accelerated pace, in hope of finding a better life for their families. But they bounce back and land on the edges of the cities in the slums. These migrant slums are left informal, left unplanned. They are left without design. The largest, most energetic, most robust cities in the world will soon be found in the capitals of the developing world. Dhaka will surpass Tokyo to become the largest megacity of the world within fifteen years. The developed world will be the places of refinement but these new megacities in the developing world will hold the vibrancy and the buzz of our world. In short, they will be the spaces most exciting to play in. It’s where we can achieve the greatest improvement in quality of life.
If nothing is done, migrant slums may become places of unrest and deep poverty. They will be home to one third of the world’s population. These slum dwellers could become the majority minority who are disenfranchised — a fringe group who are regarded as second-class citizens, competing for resources outside the rules of the city. These cities are already becoming overwhelmingly chaotic, in many ways, beautifully chaotic, but perhaps unsustainably so. (http://www.utopiacities.org/blog/).
The firm coordinates projects and resources to blueprint a new vision redesigning and building communities that look out for the vulnerable populations living in urban slums. In 2006, Hursh also founded INCLUDED in Beijing, and expanded operations to Shanghai, Kathmandu, and Dhaka. INCLUDED is currently expanding into ten strategic cities and 100 community centers across the world to advance the cause of migrant slums. He deeply believes that smart cities are inclusive cities towards their migrants (https://about.me/jonathanhursh).
Mr. Hursh is the recipient of the World Economic Forum connected Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year, he was recently recognized on the Global 100 Public Interest Design list, and serves as an Advisory Board Member of the World Economic Forum's Urban Development Initiative. Recently he was appointed to the Advisory Board of Harvard GSD’s new Master of Design Engineering program. On his visit to MOCB, Mr. Hursh was accompanied by Mr. Juan Torres, his college roommate and founder of BELONG, a Mobile-based entity seeking to positively impact the international immigrant community. Mitchell students are planning to become involved with the local effort to improve the lives of the immigrant community.