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This award is funded under NSF's Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) activities, which aim to address the challenges of creating a sustainable world. Understanding urban sustainability and improving the ability of policy makers to achieve sustainable management are pressing needs of the 21st century. Learning how to enable sustainable transitions for cities requires an understanding of the myriad transitions urban systems will face. To meet these challenges, this project will establish an interdisciplinary Urban Sustainability Research Coordination Network (RCN) that will integrate and synthesize urban research while incubating solutions-oriented products. This unique network will use a comparative approach across a diversity of cities that are in various degrees of transition to: 1) understand the social, economic, and environmental triggers that have led contemporary cities to crisis and transition; 2) use complex adaptive systems approaches to understand how contemporary cities react to transition triggers, and; 3) use the energy-water resource nexus as a lens to understand how contemporary cities may best transition to more sustainable futures.

The Urban Sustainability RCN will begin with a broadly interdisciplinary core group of academics, students, postdocs, policy-makers, city planners, managers, and other action-focused urban players representing 14 cities in various stages of transition. Network expansion will be international, inclusive, nimble, and flexible as network objectives become more focused on incubating solutions-oriented projects. The network will use a wide array of collaborative tools to nurture synthesis activities, information sharing, and product dissemination during face-to-face activities, virtual interactions, and educational activities. Training new professionals and improve the ability of existing professionals to achieve urban sustainability objectives is an additional, educational goal of this network. The network also will develop new tools and motivations for the exchange of practical information among sustainability scientists, officers, and practitioners. The Urban Sustainability RCN will incubate activities and generate products about the most effective approaches and media for communication with practitioners.


National Science Foundation, Division of Environmental Biology


September 2011 — August 2016