An Interdisciplinary Conference
April 4–6, 2019

“The good of the individual by himself is certainly desirable enough, but that of a nation and of cities is nobler and more divine.”
—Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 

Call for Papers

The 2019 Conference on The Ethical City seeks to gather scholars for a national conversation on the roles of individuals, institutions, businesses, and government agencies in providing for the possibility of an ethical life together in contemporary urban settings.  We invite papers examining the conditions of just and vibrant communities allowing for a flourishing human life.

Presentations may include the following topics:

  • The role of public institutions
  • Civic engagement and social capital
  • Citizenship
  • Public virtues
  • Neighborhoods
  • Building Community
  • Philanthropy and volunteering
  • Infrastructure
  • Hospitality and diversity
  • Opportunities for social mobility

How to Submit

The deadline for submission of proposals is Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. Proposals (presentation, poster, or panel discussion) should be completed via Word doc or PDF and uploaded via the online submission form.  For questions contact Nicole Van Ert at 608-796-3616 or email at

Charles Montgomery

The Happy City

Charles Montgomery, Author of The Happy City
Thursday, April 4, 2019
7 p.m. - Fine Arts Center Main Theatre

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Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author, urbanist, and leader of a consultancy building more happiness into cities. He is the author of the book Happy City, about which The New York Times wrote: “Happy City is not only readable but stimulating. It raises issues most of us have avoided for too long. Do we live in neighborhoods that make us happy? That is not a silly question. Montgomery encourages us to ask it without embarrassment, and to think intelligently about the answer.”

He has advised and lectured planners, students, and decision-makers across the USA, Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. He also creates experiments that challenge us to see our cities—and ourselves—in entirely new ways. Montgomery’s Home for the Games initiative led hundreds of people to follow his example and open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab and the citizens of New York City, he transformed an empty lot into a machine to maximize feelings of altruism. Whether it is empowering people to re-imagine a city street using hundreds of giant building blocks, or challenging them to hug complete strangers, each experiment is driven by insights in the science of human wellbeing. Montgomery’s work ultimately nudges us out of our comfort zone to find a hopeful new vision for cities of joy.

Montgomery and his team have turned the lessons from Happy City into a tool for helping people bring more happiness into their cities. They are using it to transform places and people’s lives in Mexico City, Auckland, London, and elsewhere. Montgomery launched the world’s first Happy Neighborhood Audit in Mexico City, and his team also began work with the World Health Organization’s Europe Healthy Cities Unit. Montgomery has also been working with TIME Magazine on an interactive survey exploring happiness in American cities. Beta version here, with interactive version in development.

Montgomery’s writings on urban planning, psychology, culture, and history have appeared in magazines and journals on three continents. Among his awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science. His first book, The Last Heathen, won the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction and vigorous praise from reviewers in The New York Times, The Guardian, and elsewhere.