A seminar led by Luís Bettencourt, Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, on sustainable urban development. Global urbanization is arguably the greatest force shaping the world today, delivering at once unprecedented human development, economic growth and severe challenges of sustainability for human energy and resource use. Even though cities have historically been the settings where most hallmarks of civilization were developed - politics, justice, economic markets, public health, infrastructure – they have been treated in urban planning and policy as a massive engineering problem, to be shaped at will from the top-down. This approach has often run counter to the natural dynamics of cities as places of human interaction and opportunity and created many negative unintended consequences, especially for disadvantaged populations. In this talk, I will show how this perspective has now been completely upended, and how evidence from cities from around the world and new approaches to integrated theory and modeling are revealing new knowledge of the fundamental processes that shape and sustain cities. I will end by describing a number of areas of near future development, associated with the need to understand and accelerate development across scales – from individuals to cities and nations. I will discuss in this context the type of data and partnerships necessary to generate a rigorous and systematic people-centric approach to urban sustainable development, and a range of our present initiatives at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, which may provide points of collaboration.