University/City Partnerships: Creating Policy Networks for Urban Transformation in Nairobi


  • Jacqueline Klopp Columbia University
  • Elliott Sclar Columbia University
  • Peter M Ngau University of Nairobi


Higher Education, University Partnerships, Urban Policy


This paper describes an innovative collaboration between the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Nairobi. By bringing universities into urban policy networks, this partnership aims to re-shape pedagogy, policy and research action for sustainable urban development. The strategy underlying this partnership is to foster meaningfttl local university/municipality partnerships aimed at improving the social and physical sustainability of cities in the global South as well as transform how and what urban planning students learn in order to manage power and complexity. The paper raises questions about international collaborations that bring universities together with cities and their residents and how those collaborations can be designed to better ensure their success.

Author Biographies

Jacqueline Klopp, Columbia University

Jacqueline Klopp is an Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University.  Previously, she taught for many years at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University where she remains affiliated. Her research focuses at the intersection of sustainable land use, democratization, violence, displacement and corruption.  Klopp is the author of articles for Africa Today, African Studies Review, African Studies, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Comparative Politics, Forced Migration Review, Urban Forum, World Policy Review among others. She is also a founder and Board member of the Internal Displacement Policy and Advocacy Center (IDPAC) based in Nakuru, Kenya. She is writing a book on the politics of planning in Nairobi and is taking an increasing interest in ICT and questions of public participation in policymaking around planning.

Klopp received her B.A. from Harvard University in Physics and her Ph.D. in Political Science from McGill University.

Elliott Sclar, Columbia University

Elliott Sclar is Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning at GSAPP and the Columbia University Earth Institute. He directs the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD), one of ten global centers of excellence in Future Urban Transport established by the Volvo Foundations of Gothenburg, Sweden. He works on issues of socially equitable and environmentally sustainable urban public transportation.

An economist and urban planner, his research and writings explore the impact of finance and governance on the land use-transport connection that determines urban form. Sclar teaches courses on planning history, physical structure of cities, urban sustainability and urban transport economics.

Sclar coordinated the Taskforce on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, one of the ten task forces established by the UN Millennium Project to aid the implementation of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. He was one of the lead authors of its 2005 report A Home in the City published by Earthscan.

Sclar is a nationally recognized expert on privatization: his book You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For: The Economics of Privatization (Cornell, 2000) won two major academic prizes: the Louis Brownlow Award for the Best Book of 2000 from the National Academy of Public Administration and the 2001 Charles Levine Prize from the International Political Science Association and Governance magazine for a major contribution to public policy literature.

Peter M Ngau, University of Nairobi

Professor Peter M. Ngau is associate professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Nairobi. He holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. He has taught urban planning in the University of Nairobi for more than 15 years, served as Chairman of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Nairobi, from 2002-2009, and was visiting professor at UCLA and Columbia, USA, and York University, Canada, and Bern University, Switzerland. Ngau has worked as a national expert with the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), Africa Office, for six years and as a member of advisory committees for UN Habitat on Human Settlements. His current research interests are in revitalization of urban planning education and practice in Africa, and the role of university-community-municipality collaboration in sustainable urban planning and management.