← Big Swings

Call for Applications: Big Swings

What can New York learn from cities around the world taking “big swings” to confront their housing crises? A new Global Exchange fellowship will empower 40 rising leaders to weave together expertise and energize the public conversation with fresh ideas and messaging. Apply now!


This new nine-month fellowship will invest in 40 rising leaders across design, development, policy, advocacy and journalism to build bridges between New York City and its peer cities, uncover cutting-edge projects, and demand courageous public policy. Fellows will engage with leading global experts, travel to a peer city to study alternative approaches, publish insights, and meet with local decision-makers to champion reform.

New York needs to search the world for solutions to its most intractable problems, beginning with the housing crisis. The city’s dire shortage has resulted in skyrocketing rents, displacement, gentrification, and a steep rise in tenant harassment and homelessness. Approximately 3 million New York households are living in housing insecurity as of 2022 — lacking safe, stable, adequate and affordable housing. 

While policymakers have made recent progress toward tax incentives to increase supply and protections against rent gouging, this “all-in” moment demands that we confront other pressing challenges: welcoming new arrivals, decarbonizing building stock, cutting red tape, and confronting NIMBYism.

We often hear that New York City’s housing challenges are uniquely complex, yet many cities are grappling with similar challenges – and implementing creative solutions. Cities like Toronto and Stockholm are successfully housing new migrants. Cities like Singapore and Copenhagen are achieving ambitious climate goals. 

The Global Exchange fellowship seeks to build solidarity between leaders in New York and other cities taking “big swings” at their housing crises. Through exploring the cultures and political shifts behind housing changes around the world, we will energize and equip decision-makers to better advocate for reform. Our goal is to complement the diligent work of local leaders, weave together diverse perspectives, and support a new generation of leaders to house every New Yorker.


Our 40 Global Fellows will lead comparative research through a nine-month, 120-hour leadership development program, grounded in an experiential learning approach. Fellows will drive conversation with leading experts from Tokyo to Helsinki, and deepen their understanding of the issues and players shaping the global housing debate. 

Learning Days

Global Fellows will form working groups based on their interest and expertise. Working groups will collaboratively investigate creative projects and policy initiatives from around the world. Each group will organize an experiential Learning Day, an immersive workshop for the entire cohort examining one critical issue facing New York City and connecting fellows to international leaders to share global insights. 

Study Trip to Berlin

A 3-day study trip will challenge Fellows to dive deep into this alternative housing market through site visits, presentations, and working sessions. Few European cities have been as impacted by the housing crisis as Berlin, which has adopted radical measures to ease affordability, create new supply, decarbonize its housing stock and integrate migrants.

Public Programs 

A major speaker series will provide a venue for international leaders to share global precedents to our broader membership, followed by private dinners for Fellows and key patrons. Invited speakers will join Fellow programming to expand on ideas from their home city and engage directly with Fellows.


Fellows will publish their findings and share them with key elected officials and agency leaders. An embedded journalist will elevate findings throughout the year to a broader public audience. We will also support Fellows to write op-eds, make presentations and participate in housing conferences to share insights with new audiences.

Who Should Apply

Interests & Experience

Global Fellows are mid-career professionals in or entering executive leadership within their firms, with 10 to 20 years of experience. Fellows are seeking opportunities to develop their leadership, knowledge  insights, and networks through cutting-edge comparative research and interface with a broad range of housing stakeholders.

This year, we welcome candidates with deep interest in the intersections of housing and design, construction, development, advocacy, law or public policy. We invite those welcome candidates whose work and research engages local issues in New York City, or housing in cities around the world. 

Time Commitment

Global Exchange is a time-intensive, experiential leadership program that relies on the active participation of every member of the cohort. In addition to attendance at all program dates, Fellows should expect to commit four hours per week throughout the Fellowship. 

Program Cost

We aim to build a diverse and inclusive cohort that recognizes that different leaders have different financial capacity to contribute toward this program.

Tuition for the Fellowship is $5,100, which covers the cost of 120 hours of facilitated training and bespoke programming with leading global thinkers. The additional costs of travel and accommodation for the study trip are assumed by the participants. 

Scholarships will be made available to help cover the cost of participation for those who indicate need-based consideration, ranging between $500 and the full tuition amount of $5,100. We also offer customizable payment plans. 

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Urban Design Forum seeks to promote the achievements of traditionally underrepresented groups in planning and design. Women and gender-expansive people, people of color, LGBTQIA2S+ people, people with disabilities, and professionals with experience in diverse community settings are strongly encouraged to apply. 


Fellows must live or work in the five boroughs of New York City for the duration of the fellowship to be considered. Attendance is expected at all in-person sessions. 


Application & Selection

Application Release May 14

Info Session June 5

Application Deadline June 21

Notification of Results July 1 

Program Activities

All dates are full-day activities.

Orientation July 25 – 26

Study Trip September 11-13 [optional]

Workshop September 27 

Learning Day October 25

Learning Day November 15

Learning Day December 6

Learning Day January 10

Learning Day January 31

Learning Day February 21 

Program Debrief & Workshop March 7 

Final Event March 14 

Attendance is required on all dates. Fellows may miss only two dates for successful completion of the program.

Join the Information Session

Interested applicants are welcome to attend our information session:

June 5, 2024 6:00 – 7:00 pm ET
Register to receive the Zoom link

Attend the Information Session

Apply Now

Submit your application by June 21, 2024 at 5:00pm ET.
Please direct questions to submissions@urbandesisngforum.org

Apply to become a Global Fellow

Support Our Work

Global Exchange is made possible through support of Jamie von Klemperer and KPF, Turner Construction, and our Global Circle: a distinguished group of senior civic, industry and philanthropic leaders who have helped to launch this program and drive the international conversation. 

Circle members gather for events with esteemed speakers, travel together to a peer city, and connect New York’s decision-makers with their counterparts around the world. Their financial leadership enables us to offer the fellowship for free to advocates, public servants and journalists who need to be at the table. 

Members receive benefits including network building, thought leadership, nomination of fellows, and visibility. For more information about how to join this league of supporters, along with a list of support tiers and benefits, please contact Stacey Anderson, stacey@urbandesignforum.org

Thank you to our Founding Circle members.

Image Credit: Sam Lahoz