Moving Baltimore Forward

Summer 2015

BackTalk_Baltimore_HEADERMoving Baltimore Forward

This spring, unrest rocked the city of Baltimore following the tragic death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

Both the eruptions of violence and the peaceful demonstrations before and after illuminated the wrenching issues of systemic racial and economic inequalities roiling cities across our country.

This is a critical time for Baltimore, and Johns Hopkins has an important role to play. In convening conversations that shape debate, pursuing rigorous research that undergirds policy and points toward new solutions to vexing urban challenges, and marshaling our human and capital resources to make an impact in our communities, we are working with our partners across the city to bend the trajectory of our hometown toward a more vibrant future for all.

Our commitment to Baltimore is part of the marrow of this place. And the Whiting School of Engineering is an essential part of that commitment.

Consider the collaboration between Tamás Budavári, assistant professor in the Whiting School’s Applied Mathematics and Statistics Department, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Kathryn Edin and Johns Hopkins alumnus and Baltimore City Housing Deputy Commissioner Michael Braverman. Their goal: To use big data science to understand the dynamics of vacant housing in the city and ensure that development resources are being used effectively.

Through our Social Innovation Lab, our entrepreneurial and civic-minded engineers are developing digital platforms for Baltimore residents to crowdsource solutions to issues ranging from improving sanitation to creating green space in their neighborhoods. And in the classrooms of Baltimore City Public Schools, funded by the National Science Foundation and led by the Whiting School, the Stem Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools program unites a cross-disciplinary team to improve STEM education outcomes.

We also recognize the need to strengthen our own university’s climate for diversity. The broader conversations under way on our campuses and around the nation are galvanizing those efforts, and reinforcing our fundamental belief that attracting and retaining diverse talent is essential to sustaining our academic community.

There is, of course, so much more to do. The issues raised by these events will not be easily solved. It will take commitment from all quarters to bring meaningful change to neighborhoods stifled by entrenched disparities in health, education, and economic opportunity.

As we forge ahead, Johns Hopkins will draw on the optimistic, solution-oriented ethos of engineering—and, of course, the expertise of our engineers—to move our university, our communities, and our city forward.