The Human City Institute is a Birmingham-based research and campaigning charity and think-tank. Founded 21 years ago, HCI is dedicated to investigating exclusion, social injustice and inequality; promoting sustainable human communities; and campaigning to improve the quality of life and happiness of citizens.

HCI commercial philanthropy seminar held in the Shakespeare room of Birmingham’s new Central Library

Research Themes

HCI has developed a vision for its work built upon a thematic research programme that incorporates seven key themes. These seven themes not only relate to current and likely future policy concerns, but also have their roots in the historic work of HCI:

  • REALISING THE HUMAN CITY ~ Overview of ‘human cities’ including measurement via indices and Incorporating longitudinal and case studies of human neighbourhood projects and approaches and their dissemination.
  • NO COMMUNITY LEFT BEHIND ~ Including the geography of faith, BME and lifestyle groups and their relative socio-economic exclusion and inequalities between communities, and ways of aiding their progress within ‘human cities’.
  • SOCIAL EXCLUSION, INVESTMENT AND INNOVATION ~ Covering the role of social investment approaches and development of innovative, social enterprises within communities to alleviate poverty and disadvantage via innovation.
  • SOCIAL JUSTICE AND INEQUALITY IN HEALTH, WEALTH & LIFE CHANCES ~ Exploring inequality impact on health, wealth and life chances and how to further social justice.
  • PUBLIC AND SOCIAL VALUE, MUTUALISM AND THE BIG SOCIETY ~ Involving comparative studies of public value, mutual and co-operative, community and neighbourhood-based approaches to realise the ‘human city’.
  • NEW VISIONS FOR HOUSING ~ Involving development of new perspectives on how housing in the UK might be made fairer, greener and more affordable with a flourishing social housing sector.
  • COHORT STUDIES ~ Exploring the needs and aspirations of age and lifestyle cohorts such as young and old people, various LGBT communities.
Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell delivering HCI’s 4th annual lecture about the effects of austerity on disadvantaged groups in 2014

Our Work

Since HCI was re-shaped as a research charity and think-tank in 2008, it has undertaken work valued at more than £1.5m in cash and ‘in kind’, with income from sponsors, grant-making trusts, public bodies and sales.  With this investment, HCI has produced a range of work.

  • RESEARCH REPORTS ~ Sixty-seven research reports on a variety of topics (including realising the ‘human city’; equality and diversity; social value, social investment and VFM; community and resident surveys; housing and regeneration policy; austerity, financial exclusion and welfare reform; mutualism and the ‘Big Society’; and green issues)
  • BOOKS ~ Three books and two chapters in academic books
  • THINK-PIECES ~ Twenty think-pieces, research summaries and bulletins
  • PAPERS AND ACADEMIC ARTICLES ~ Thirteen conference papers, academic articles and consultation submissions
  • EVENTS ~ Twenty-six annual lectures, launches and round-tables
  • MEDIA COVERAGE ~ More than 250 articles, blogs and news mentions in the national, local and trade media
  • EVENTS ~ Twenty-six annual lectures, launches and roundtables
  • COMMISSIONS AND CAMPAIGNS ~ Ten research commissions and campaigns covering a range of topics.
  • PARTNERS ~ Worked with more than eighty academic, think-tank and practitioner partners (especially housing associations, public bodies, charities and social enterprises)
Ranjit Sondhi, Chair of the Heart of Birmingham PCT, presenting his lecture about health inequalities in 2012

HCI’s work in recent years has centred upon scoping the ingredients for ‘human’ cities; exploring the role of mutualism, community and resident-led action; Equality & Diversity; the widening inequality gap, the impact of austerity and  welfare reform; and the role of innovative social and community investment approaches to alleviating poverty and disadvantage while boosting life chances. A full description of all work since 2008 can be found here – hci-key-work.

HCI’s round-table on social and community investment at the National Housing Federation conference