School of Cities / Event

Disrupting D.C.: A conversation with Dr. Katie Wells

Banner for Katie Wells book talk

Disrupting D.C: The rise of Uber and the fall of the city

The first city to fight back against Uber, Washington, D.C., was also the first city where such resistance was defeated. It was here that the company created a playbook for how to deal with intransigent regulators and to win in the realm of local politics. The city already serves as the nation’s capital. Now, D.C. is also the blueprint for how Uber conquered cities around the world—and explains why so many embraced the company with open arms.

Drawing on interviews with gig workers, policymakers, Uber lobbyists, and community organizers, Disrupting D.C. demonstrates that many share the blame for lowering the nation’s hopes and dreams for what its cities could be. In a sea of broken transit, underemployment, and racial polarization, Uber offered a lifeline. But at what cost?

Join author Katie Wells, the School of Cities and the Master of Urban Innovation program at the University of Toronto in a discussion on Disrupting D.C, the ongoing effects of Uber in our cities, and what we can expect for our cities’ futures. This talk will take place at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology, room 1200.

To purchase Dr. Wells’ book, please visit:


About the speaker

Dr. Katie Wells is a geographer who studies urban change. She writes about how tech affects the way we live in cities, and especially how we govern them. Currently, she’s a postdoctoral Fritz Fellow with Georgetown University’s new Tech & Society initiative. She has published findings in academic journals such as Environment and Planning A, Urban Geography, and Antipode. She has discussed the real-time impacts of her research in 100+ media stories in outlets including The Washington Post, NPR, ABC National News, CBC News, CNN, and The San Francisco Chronicle. A native of Canton, Ohio, she has lived in D.C. for 20 years.