The University of Washington has chosen the theme "NEXT CITY: Sustainable Urbanization" as a major focus of University events and activities for this academic year, continuing into 2011. Over this period, NEXT CITY will be the topic of University lectures, seminars, cultural and educational events, and public roundtables on the challenges and opportunities of urbanization. It will form a conversation across the UW and with the community and region.
Today, half of the world's populations live in cities; by 2030, an additional five billion people will have joined them. This is an issue that hits close to home as well. Over 90 percent of the State of Washington's economic output comes from metropolitan areas. The urban-rural divide is disappearing; metropolitan Washington includes high-rise downtowns and suburban job centers, high-tech campuses and working farms, city parks and rural green spaces. The proximity of mountains, rivers, estuaries, and oceans heightens public awareness of the connection between cities and the environment. Regionally and globally, our future depends on cities growing sustainably along many dimensions: environmental, social, cultural, and economic.
Sustainable urbanization clearly crosses the interests of many, both inside the University and in the community and region. As a public research institution located in the heart of a globally connected metropolitan area, with deep faculty expertise in urban fields, the UW can be a leader in finding informed solutions to the social and environmental challenges posed by the urbanization of the planet. We expect research to develop in the context of this initiative that will contribute to solving a wide range of challenges related to the city.
Phyllis M. Wise
Provost and Executive Vice President
University of Washington