City Science: Why Urbanization Fuels Innovation

You’ve probably heard someone say, “I’m not a city person.” What you probably didn’t surmise, based on that self-disclosed data point, is that he was also saying, “I’m not an idea person.” But there’s a high likelihood it’s true. Convincing data from urban science tells us when people come together they become more productive and more creative per capita. According to one leading researcher, “What’s truly amazing is how predictable this is. It happens automatically, in city after city.”

Urban science and its corresponding laws suggest cities are the single most important invention in human history. Why? Because most of the important inventions of human history resulted from the laws of urban science and the exponential growth of both creativity and productivity in cities. As cities get bigger they function like accelerators, increasing innovation and production.

No wonder people are flocking to cities. For the first time in history the majority of people alive today live in urban settings. It is estimated that over the next 100 years more people will move to cities than have done so for all of human history. In spite of the challenges of urban life, and they are many, cities create a positive feedback loop that fuels continued growth. A growing city makes everyone in the city more productive and more creative, which in turn motivates more people to move to the city.

In this month’s vlog, City Science: Why Urbanization Fuels Innovation, Steve Moore reminds us it would be impossible to complete whatever portion of the Great Commission God has ordained for our generation without giving increasing priority to cities. And the evidence is convincing that suggests the most innovative people will be those who benefit from what Jane Jacobs described as “knowledge spillovers,” where strangers learn from other strangers in an urban caldron of cognitive diversity. Inventors and artists tend to inspire other inventors and other artists, even when their interests are unrelated.

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