The City as Health Policy interrogates how city policies and infrastructure work to promote or undermine health and well-being, especially when those policies are ostensibly at some remove from health.

Rethinking Health Policy

Cities affect health through multiple pathways, but more often than not, decision-making remains siloed in municipal departments. Without conscious attention to the broader reach policies have on residents, cities are likely to perpetuate, rather than redress racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health inequalities. Progressive framings of population health—Health in All Policies, Culture of Health—take as their starting point how to make good health not only possible, but inevitable. City policies and infrastructure can be designed to integrate health into the physical and social environment. Any policy that affects how people live in and experience the urban environment is health policy.

Individuals in the City

Established determinants of health include: education, income, poverty, employment, housing conditions, power, prestige, social support, and access to health care. Individuals who have more of some of these things, and less of the others are poised to be in better health. But how do cities make it more or less likely for individuals to have access to and benefit from social and economic resources? The City as Health Policy conference examines how urban contexts translate resources into health and well-being.


Where are cities succeeding in making it possible for all residents to enjoy urban spaces? What happens when city policies foster stress and exclusion? When do urban transformations perpetuate legacies of inequality rather than upending them? Why is it challenging to weave health impact into all city policies? Who needs to participate in designing health-promoting cities? What should we consider to be a sustainable city? How do residents negotiate through, and innovate in day-to-day life in cities where resources are scarce?

Finding Answers

The City as Health Policy conference will engage these questions with panels on the following topics:

No SVG support

Urban Agriculture and Food Policy

No SVG support

Sustainable Transportation

No SVG support

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

No SVG support

Community and Economic Development


Documentary Photography

A visual exploration of The City as Health Policy at work across several New Jersey cities, including Newark, Paterson, Trenton, and Camden.


Logo for The Center for Race and Ethnicity, or CRE

Organized by Naa Oyo A. Kwate, The City as Health Policy is hosted by The Center for Race and Ethnicity (CRE) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The CRE’s mission is to offer the Rutgers community a place for the interdisciplinary engagement of issues of race and ethnicity within the state, the region and the world. The Center organizes collective conversations on issues ranging from important historical moments to contemporary culture and public policy. We do so by leading scholarly roundtables, lectures, workshops, film screenings, and conferences; and by co-sponsoring the same in other units around the university. Visit our website to learn more.

Logo for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


Free and open to the public