As India embarks upon its largest urban transition, national policy which is moving in tune with global focus has also increasingly begun to embrace the urban. Yet two considerable challenges remain. First is the lack of ‘system integrators’—professionals who are capable of bringing together all the complex strands of urban transformation innovations from India and across the world, with the most advanced knowledge available, while building the institutions that can implement this change. Second, these ‘system integrators’ have to be immersed in knowledge, practices, perspectives, and sensibilities that develop criticality and the ability to propose, and finally, that give them agency.
The IIHS Research Programme is designed to create this grounded knowledge that is the need of the hour across Indian institutions, cities, and universities as well as across the world. The sites of this creation are the five interdisciplinary Schools, each of which will focus on a particular transformational theme: Governance, Human Development, Economic Development, Systems and Infrastructure, and Environment and Sustainability. Each of the Schools has concrete pathways to impact. These are drawn from specific epistemic traditions linked to disciplines and innovative inter-sectoral, intersectional, and interdisciplinary approaches. The key common imperative, however, is to ground knowledge creation and pedagogy in the Indian context and for developing countries across the world.