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Exploring Our Future in an Urbanized World

November 19-20, 2015 · New York City

An Event of the American Geographical Society
Hosted by the Earth Institute, Columbia University

Exploring Our Future in an Urbanized World

In 2014, AGS mounted an “Expedition to the Future”, and a topic that prominently recurred through much of the dialog was “urbanization.” An ever increasing proportion of the world’s population will dwell in urban areas by 2050, even as the world’s total population swells by billions. The geographies of our urban habitats are poised to change radically by 2050, and the implications of this for local, regional, and global decision makers are significant and paramount to our well-being. The spatial-temporal processes and patterns that will reshape our cities – and the rest of the planet - are many and interrelated, and will manifest differently in different places over time. In short, there is no single “urban habitat” and it is imperative that we, as a global society, understand the variety and interconnectedness of the world’s towns, cities and mega-cities as they evolve by 2050

The AGS Fall Symposium brings together leaders in business, government, science, and education that might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact, and provide opportunities for discussion, debate, and collaboration to further the understanding of the future of our cities.

At the AGS Symposium, Enjoy a World Class Hotel, and Offset Your Carbon Footprint for Free

Sometimes the best way to improve your impact is to reduce your impact. So this year the American Geographical Society has partnered with TripZero, who will calculate and offset our entire carbon footprint—including attendee travel. As we gather to discuss the future of our urbanized world, AGS is taking an active role in bringing the conversation outside of the room, and implementing a sustainable strategy for Geography2050. Visit TripZero to calculate you carbon footprint, and explore the ways they will offset it through projects around the world.

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Speakers & Presenters

Keynote Speaker: Thursday
Dr. Jeffrey Sachs
Director, Earth Institute
Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. He is co-founder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, and is director of the Millennium Villages Project. Sachs is also one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years: The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011). His most recent books are To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2013) and The Age of Sustainable Development (2015).

Keynote Speaker: Friday
Dr. Joan Clos
Executive Director of UN-Habitat
Dr. Joan Clos is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), at the level of Under Secretary General by the United Nations General Assembly. He has held this office since October 2010.Dr. Clos was twice elected Mayor of Barcelona, serving two terms from 1997 until 2006. He was Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Trade of Spain between 2006 and 2008. Prior to joining the United Nations, he served as the Spanish Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan.He is a medicine graduate from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB), and specialized in Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland).Dr. Joan Clos then joined the Barcelona Municipal Government as the Director of Public Health in 1979.

Preliminary Program

Day 1: November 19th
8:00 Registration & Breakfast
Opening Remarks

Plenary Session: Breakthrough Trends in Urban Sustainability

Special Topics Sessions

The Geographic Implications of Migration, Immigration and Resettlement

The Future of Urban Infrastructure

10:30 Break and Caucus
Special Topics Sessions

The Future Geography of Economic Exclusion and Integration

Secondary Cities Shaping the World’s Urban Future

Special Topics Sessions

Complexity, Multidimensionality and Vulnerability: The Future of Urbanization

Smart Cities, Urban Sensor Webs and Robotics

12:30 Lunch
Introductions and Mapping the Symposium
Plenary Session

Emerging Urban Forms

3:00 Break and Caucus
Special Plenary Session

Future Game Changer: Vertical Farming

Keynote Address
Review of the Day and Planning for Tomorrow
Day 2: November 20th
7:30 Registration and Breakfast
Plenary Session

The Future Role of Cities in the Geo-Strategic Landscape

Plenary Session

Cities at Risk of Disaster

10:00 Break and Caucus
Plenary Session

Sensing Urban Change from Above


The AGS Medal Award Ceremony

12:00 Lunch
Plenary Session

Human Security in the Future Urban Habitat

Keynote Address
2:45 Break and Caucus
Plenary Experience

Urban Social Research and Technology Design

Plenary Session

Investing in an Urban Future

Call to Arms
5:30 Closing Reception

Partners & Sponsors

Symposium Partners

Our Premier Sponsors

Our Sponsors

Special Supporter

Participation Opportunities

AGS is currently seeking sponsors and underwriters to help support the 2015 Fall Symposium

2014 Fall Symposium Recap

Geography 2050: Mounting an Expedition to the Future

The American Geographical Society, an organization with a 163 year history of geographic exploration, recently mounted a new expedition: An “Expedition to the Future.” The Geography2050 conference, held on November 19, 2014, by the AGS and the Earth Institute of Columbia University, provided a unique glimpse forward at the Earth and its inhabitants in the year 2050. Many “geo” conferences stress that “geography matters,” but Geography2050 offered details on why and how for a prestigious group of industry, government and academic geographers, and interested citizens. Read more...

Watch the videos

Read Geography 2050: Mounting an expedition to the Future article

Visit last year's website

Who attended last year?

Event Details

Reserve the dates today...Registration coming soon!


Low Memorial Library and Roone Arledge Auditorium - Lerner Hall

Columbia University

116th Street and Broadway, New York City

Parking info

Book your hotel at discounted conference rates.
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Contact Us

917-745-8354 for information

Rates & Registration

All registrations include 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, all breaks, Closing Reception, Symposium Proceedings, and Symposium materials.
    • Early

    • until 2 October

    • Early Reg Ended
    • Regular

    • 3 October - 18 November

    • Register Now!
    • At Door

    • 19 November - 20 November

    • Not Available

*If you are currently not a member, you can register as a member now and receive the member rate. Sign up here.

**For those who select this premier registration, your organization will be acknowledged as a friend and participant of this strategic dialog.