ATLANTA—The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Georgia State University a $500,000 grant to create a new transdisciplinary research center that will help transform the way critical urban challenges are studied and addressed.
The Center for Urban Transformations, which will launch this year, seeks to empower the next generation of urban scholars and professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to help cities address complex, uncertain and contested urban sustainability challenges. It will involve diverse Atlanta civic groups and faculty from multiple departments at Georgia State.
The center will build on an innovative graduate education and mentorship model developed, piloted and evaluated as part of the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN), which includes Georgia State. The pilot model successfully equipped graduate students to collaborate across disciplinary lines and with decision makers, practitioners and civic groups to produce novel research agendas, knowledge and solutions to complex urban problems.
“We will focus on developing graduate students’ capacities to conduct socially relevant and high-impact research to advance urban sustainability transformations,” said Principal Investigator David Iwaniec, a member of the UREx SRN executive management team and an associate professor in Georgia State’s Urban Studies Institute. “Our overarching goal is to improve the study, practice and impact of urban systems science.”
The three-year grant was awarded through the NSF’s Emerging Frontiers & Multidisciplinary Activities: Germination of Research Questions for Addressing Critical Societal Challenges program, which “aims to foster the development of pedagogical frameworks, platforms and environments to enable participants to formulate research questions and ideas with potentially transformative outcomes,” as stated on its website.
Faculty collaborating with Iwaniec on the center’s leadership team, which is housed in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies’ Urban Studies Institute, include scholars from the Urban Studies Institute (Lelani Mannetti) and Department of Public Management and Policy (Ann-Margaret Esnard) in the Andrew Young School; College of Law (John Marshall); College of Arts and Sciences’ departments of Geosciences (Katherine Hankins, Richard Milligan) and Neuroscience (Michael Black); and School of Public Health’s Department of Population Health Sciences (Christina Fuller). The team invites faculty and students from throughout the university to participate in the center’s initiatives.
David M. Iwaniec
Associate Professor of Sustainable Futures
Urban Studies Institute
David M. Iwaniec is a sustainability scientist researching anticipatory and systems approaches to advance urban sustainability, resilience and justice. He conducts research to learn from and improve the governance of urban systems, including the co-development of sustainability solutions and transition pathways for positive futures of urban transformation.