Building and sharing knowledge in the real world

Urban’s experts come from all sectors—academic, public, private, and philanthropic—and they share insights, learn from, and serve as resources for practitioners, policymakers, and business and community leaders working to make change in our society. Their perspectives are informed and enhanced both by real-world experience and by others who are putting policy into practice. 

Knowledge-building enriched by diverse affiliations

Urban experts are permitted and empowered to work and affiliate with outside organizations, whether serving on boards, volunteering their time, or providing advice and counsel. And Urban welcomes nonresident or affiliated fellows who work for other organizations. These outside affiliations enrich our perspectives and our learning environment. We also require all paid and unpaid experts to disclose their affiliations to Urban leadership and follow rules governing their engagement to ensure transparency for audiences and independence of experts.  

Avoiding conflicts of interest

Researchers may engage in outside activities as long as they do not conflict with Urban’s mission and interests. Outside activities are not allowed when they violate the law, prevent an employee from doing their job or following Urban policies, compete with work performed by Urban, or allow a researcher personal financial gain from work they are performing for Urban.

Disclosing experts’ affiliations to our audiences

We require our experts to disclose their affiliations publicly in their bios on Urban’s website. When those affiliations are particularly relevant to a subject of study, they are noted in publications, too. In some cases, Urban’s senior leadership may decide that based on an outside affiliation, an expert must be recused from a project altogether. 

Writing or speaking on Urban’s behalf

Urban researchers must identify themselves as such when they write or speak about work they have published or are engaging in at Urban, and take care to ground their insights in data and evidence. If researchers are writing or speaking about work they have performed for another organization, they must identify that organization and be explicit that they are not representing Urban.

Sharing knowledge without engaging in political activity

Under no circumstances can Urban resources be used for political activity. When lawmakers or candidates ask for advice, Urban experts may respond to those requests as long as they would provide the same evidence-based insights to any other lawmaker or candidate in a nonexclusive manner. Urban does not restrict personal political activities researchers engage in on their own time; such activities are considered private.

View the Urban Institute Financial Conflict of Interest Policy (PDF)  

If you have any questions about this policy, please e-mail to FCOI@urban.org