The Norman Foster Institute (NFI) is an initiative of the Norman Foster Foundation (NFF) to create a new centre for multidisciplinary education, offering grants to graduates and professionals in fields related to sustainability and cities.

About NFI

The creation of the institute follows from the success of the foundation’s programme of workshops, which have been running since its launch in 2017, bringing together experts from academia, practice and consulting to engage with top graduates from around the world.

The programmes of the institute will link to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, which has recognised the NFF as one of its Centres of Excellence.

The first NFI initiative will be a one-year Programme on Sustainable Cities.
Time will be divided between classroom, studio and on-site experience with neighbourhoods, city planners and administrators.



1 Year
Mode of Study
Full time


In person

Jan-Dec 2024
Norman Foster President of the Norman Foster Foundation and Advocate to United Nations Forum of Mayors

Norman Foster
President of the Norman Foster Foundation Advocate to United Nations Forum of Mayors

The future of our society is the future of our cities—they are our greatest invention.

This institute, in a time of climate change, is addressed to those who wish, through practice or education, to improve the quality of life in cities worldwide. In that spirit, the course will combine practical on-site experience with academic input from the Foundation’s network of international experts. These range from university professors to property developers.

The course begins with tools and skills that can be used to address wide-ranging issues of cities, such as leadership, advocacy, communication, presentation, diagramming, mapping and the understanding and interpretation of data. These could be applicable to cities from Asia, the Middle East, South and North America to Africa, Europe and Oceania as well as informal settlements and suburbia.

The curriculum then narrows down to three pilot cities that scholars will visit to engage directly with their planners and managers. For study purposes, neighbourhoods have been selected in each city to raise an awareness of the issues that affect the living standards for those who live or visit there.

Typical issues include carbon footprints, density, mix of uses, equality and affordability, walkability, place-making, townscape and landscape, public and private transport, politics and economics, energy, recycling, consultation, interest groups and decision making.

Several of these many issues will be distilled to create a small number of well-defined project assignments which will be addressed by the scholars working on site and in the studio, either in teams or individually. In this multidisciplinary approach, the scholars would use the most up-to-date digital tools in the quest to improve a sustainable quality of life.

In this first edition of the course, the pilot cities will be European, although the methodical approach will be adaptable to other kinds of cities.

Towards the end of the year, the scholars will present their findings to the city administration and there will be an emphasis on advocacy and presentation skills. The lessons from these real-life experiences will be documented by film and other media, culminating in a public event. On the basis that historically cities learn from each other, it will be important for the scholars to explore the relevance of their conclusions in the wider context of global cities.

The course is like an hourglass; starting wide in its scope, then narrowing down to focus on tangible issues that can be quantified and addressed, and finally, opening up to a wider debate. 

Aimed at

This programme is intended for unconventional thinkers seeking a holistic approach to the future design and management of cities.

It is open to all graduate and postgraduate scholars, as well as professionals in the fields of Anthropology, Architecture, Arts, Computer Science, Construction, Data Analytics, Design, Economics, Engineering, Environment, Geography, History, Law, Mathematics, Public Policy, Sociology, Transportation, Urbanism and other related disciplines.

International Certification

The NFI will provide a certificate of completion of the Programme on Sustainable Cities signed by the Co-directors Norman Foster, President of the Norman Foster Foundation and Advocate to United Nations Forum of Mayors and Kent Larson, Director of the City Science group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab.

Programme Features

Scholars will train using advanced tools which are applicable to diverse types of
global cities.

Scholars will be introduced to the Norman Foster Foundation’s network of experts, practitioners, civic leaders and alumni.

Scholars will focus and work on three European cities although the techniques used will have wider application beyond Europe. They will engage directly with city leaders, administrators and communities.

Organised by

Norman Foster Foundation is a non-profit institution listed nº1818 in the National Public Register of Cultural foundations.
Ministry of Justice of the Government of Spain

Monte Esquinza, 48 28010 Madrid, Spain  +34 913898965

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