The Meaningful City®

Meaningfulness can be harnessed to bring human values back into city design aimed at smart and sustainable innovations. Cities provide potentially rich contexts for meaningfulness in life and work, but city structures, processes and institutions can also hinder success in the individual search for meaning. The Meaningful City provides the social basis for a common good philosophy of the city (justice, responsibilities, rights and flourishing) which takes meaningfulness to be a human need and important for inclusive city living. An infrastructure of meaningfulness at the city-level incorporates public values, governance institutions, community associations, public services and private enterprise. This model is a resource for policy innovation and novel organisational practices which involve city people in creating positive meaning in their lives and work.

The Meaningful City Research Project – I launched The Meaningful City project in 2018. A research collaboration with the University of Tampere, Finland brought together a network of six Finnish cities – Helsinki, Tampere, Oulu, Vaanta, Pori and Turku – to investigate how the value of meaningfulness might be applied to public policy innovation and city governance. At the same time, Hermes Investment Management and Argent LLP have supported a scoping study, exploring how the King’s Cross Development supports meaningful work and lives .


Non Sibi Sed Toti – “not for oneself alone but for everyone” – is the moto of the London Borough of Camden.


Publications and presentations

Yeoman, R. (2019). The Meaningful City. In: Yeoman, Bailey, Madden and Thompson (eds.). Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

‘The Meaningful City – overview and insights’. 1st Symposium on the Meaningful City, Kellogg College, Oxford, June 2018. See for the Meaningful City in Finland

Yeoman, R. & Mueller Santos, M. An Institutional Infrastructure for City-level Meaningfulness – public values, capabilities and human flourishing. In: Stenvall, Laitenen, Yeoman, Thompson & Mueller Santos (eds.). Public Values for Cities and City Policy. Palgrave Macmillan. To be published in 2019.

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My keynote for Urban Partners 2018 Conference. The Meaningful City and sustainable futures –