Research institutions and universities are typically situated in the heart of cities, providing access to a talented pool of researchers, proximity to other scientific institutions, and industry connections. As a result, they play a critical role in driving urban economies. It is not surprising that some of the world’s largest cities dominate the leading Science Cities based on research output in the Nature Index. Beijing, China’s capital city, sits at the top of this list, with its research institutions collectively scoring a Share of 3,735 in 2022 for publications in the 82 natural-science journals tracked by the database. Other major urban centers such as New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Seoul, and London also feature in the top 20.
While clustering research institutions in large cities provides significant scientific and economic benefits, there are growing concerns about how science can impact rural communities. Some questions have contributed to urban-rural tensions in certain countries and have influenced national political trends like populism. However, research can also bring crucial progress and benefits to rural communities. This supplement highlights projects where these impacts are evident.
For instance, rooftop solar panels have been implemented to alleviate poverty in Chinese villages by providing renewable energy sources for homes and businesses. Additionally, research-backed interventions have improved the health outcomes of rural immigrant and Indigenous populations in the United States through better healthcare access and education programs. By demonstrating concrete evidence of their value through these initiatives