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:

Urban Agriculture and Food Policy

Sustainable Transportation

Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

Community and Economic Development


Watch the Full Conference

Read the Report

Download a full report of the day's proceedings to learn more about the issues and ideas raised at the conference.

Read Report

Stay Tuned

We are planning an edited volume that riffs on the conference themes. Stay in touch with the Center for Race and Ethnicity ( to keep abreast of this, and other projects.

Photo Galleries

On Location Introduction & Welcome Keynote Panel 1 - Food Panel 2 - Transportation Panel 3 - Community Development Panel 4 - Criminal Justice Closing Roundtable Reception



Ashley Atkinson
Co-Director of Keep Growing Detroit

Holly Freishtat
Baltimore City Food Policy Director

Joan Hopkins
Project Coordinator from Windy City Harvest Corps

Stacey Kimmons
Rodeo Farm Coordinator, Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship Graduate


Norman Garrick
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Connecticut

Ralph Buehler
Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech

Keshia Pollack
Associate Professor, Health Policy & Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Law Enforcement

Jonathan Smith
Assoc Dean at University of District of Columbia Law

Nahal Zamani
Advocacy Program Manager, Center for Constitutional Rights

Craig Futterman
Clinical Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

Community Development

Kathe Newman
Associate Professor, Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers-New Brunswick

Stacey Sutton
Assistant Professor, Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Daniel D’Oca
Principal, Interboro Partners, NYC


Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD
President, American Public Health Association

Closing Roundtable

Janice Johnson Dias
Associate Professor of Sociology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Zaire Dinzey-Flores
Associate Professor of Sociology, Rutgers

Hasan Jeffries
Associate Professor of History, Ohio State

Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz
Associate Professor of History, University of New Mexico


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.

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