Program Director, Social Cities
Milton Friesen is Program Director of Cardus Social Cities.
Core ideas that orient a significant amount of my work include the exploration of complexity science by means of various network approaches. Network dynamics are a persistent feature of our human interactions including the organizations, institutions and societies that Cardus is working to support and make sense of.
Urban planners are in constant interaction with these social structures at a wide variety of levels. I have found that computational modeling is valuable for these explorations alongside traditional statistics, machine learning, and spatial statistical approaches.
I am very interested in how organizations adapt to change (or fail to adapt) and cities are key players in this dynamic. Resilient enterprises at all scales invest energy in designing and nurturing intelligent processes that allow room for surprise, novelty and feedback. These reflect the social infrastructure dynamics that the Social Cities program actively explores.
Research development themes include a nearly completed Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo School of Planning that is focused on new ways to measure the social fabric of neighbourhoods, as well as participating in the Waterloo Institute on Complexity and Innovation .
I have written a number of articles for Municipal World and serve on the Steering Committee of the Thriving Cities Project (Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) at the University of Virginia. I am a member of the Computational Social Sciences Society of the Americas as well as the Congress for the New Urbanism.
I have served a three-year term as an elected municipal councillor and run in two other municipal campaigns (including a mayoral race) that did not lead to election. The Social Cities program has been a regular participant in the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities Trade Show where new research, policy, and city building ideas are presented.
Michelle and I have four children ages 15, 18, 21 and 23. We live in a three-storey brick house in East Hamilton.