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Monday, August 31, 2015

PIRE Workshop on Urban Infrastructure Transformations in China, India and the US


On August 23-24, the PIRE program hosted a workshop at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington DC. The focus of the workshop was on "Urban Infrastructure Transformations in China, India and the US: Connecting Local Priorities with Global Carbon Targets." STEP students and faculty were joined by policy experts from the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, ICLEI, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Department of State, and the World Bank.

The Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) project is a part of the Center's Sustainable Cities Initiative. This interdisciplinary education program was developed that explores how the intersection of engineered infrastructures with social and natural systems shapes urban sustainability outcomes pertaining to resource management, environmental pollution, climate change, and public health.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Humphrey Students and Faculty Join Network of Nine Universities at Workshop in Georgia


Last week a number of Humphrey faculty, staff, and students participated in a week-long interdisciplinary course and workshop hosted at Georgia Institute of Technology. The workshop was a part of our new network aimed at building environmentally sustainable, healthy, and livable cities.

The course was co-led by Dr. Nisha Botchwey from Georgia Tech and Dr. Anu Ramaswami from the University of Minnesota. Students learned how to design interdisciplinary environmental studies, share best practices to work together across disciplines, explore the use of models, experiments, quasi-experiments, and case studies to address the overarching policy challenge of developing sustainable cities.

Humphrey Faculty/Staff
Anu Ramaswami
Elizabeth Wilson
Jerry Zhao
Jason Cao
Yingling Fan
Luke Hollenkamp
Brianna Menning
Ajay Nagpure

Students
Rahul Sharma
Mauricio Leon
Jill Rook
Victoria Fiorentino
Halston Sleets
Peter Nixon
Olivia Yang
Yunlei Qi
Kate Gurke
Shai Fogelson
Andrew Fang
Dana Boyer
Kangkang Tong

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

STEP Area Leads a $12M Research Network to Build Health, Sustainable, and Livable Cities


The University of Minnesota has received a $12 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring together a unique network of scientists, industry leaders, and policy partners committed to building better cities of the future.

The project is directed by Anu Ramaswami, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, with co-directors Patricia Culligan at Columbia University and Armistead Russell at Georgia Institute of Technology. The network will connect across nine research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, as well as infrastructure firms, and policy groups. The project includes 25 faculty members across the nine universities, and will involve more than 40 graduate students conducting research in cross-university interdisciplinary teams.

The network is the first of its size to focus on ways to reimagine infrastructure—energy grids, road networks, green spaces, and food and water systems—to create cities that are highly functional, promote the health of residents and the environment, and have that intangible “vibe” called livability, that makes cities desirable places to live and work.

Estimates indicate that by 2050, three billion more people will live in cities, resulting in two-thirds of the world’s population inhabiting urban areas. A majority of the future infrastructure required to accommodate that growth has yet to be built, or will need to be rehabilitated from existing systems. With business-as-usual trajectories, such growth will continue to exert tremendous pressure on water, energy, and land resources, creating traffic congestion, air pollution, and urban inequity that already affects the health of millions of urban residents today.

“We have to think in new ways about a city’s physical infrastructure to develop sustainable solutions,” says Professor Anu Ramaswami, of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who is lead investigator and director for the project. “Understanding that these systems are interconnected, serves as a foundation for this work. For example, urban farms wouldn’t work very well without thinking about water, energy, and transportation infrastructure, as well as people, markets, and policies.”

Funded by the NSF’s Sustainability Research Network (SRN) program, the project, titled “Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities,” will focus on a new movement gaining momentum in cities around the world toward “distributed,” or more local, infrastructure. Until now, development trends have resulted in very large infrastructure systems—large power grids, large roadway networks, complex systems that pipe water from distant rivers, and supply food from faraway states and countries. Emerging trends suggest cities may be better off building more local systems—urban farms, local solar generation, bike share systems, and more. This network will try to identify the best mix of local and large to achieve urban sustainability, health and livability goals, by examining infrastructure in diverse cities in the U.S. and India. The team will also explore the public attitudes and policies that can help achieve such urban transitions. Read more.


To learn more about the network visit: sustainablehealthycities.org.
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