About the Urban Sustainability Laboratory

According to the United Nations, half of the world’s population now lives in cities.  Cities are not only growing in size and number, they are producing more of the world’s wealth. This expansion is continuing with virtually all urban growth occurring in cities of the developing world, overwhelming ecosystems and placing tremendous pressure on the capacity of local governments to provide necessary infrastructure and services.  Failure to prepare for this unprecedented and inevitable urban explosion carries serious implications for global security and environmental sustainability. more

The Latest from the Urban Sustainability Laboratory


Revisiting Our Black Mosaic: Black Mosaic 20th Anniversary

Event //
September 19, 2014 // 9:00am3:50pm
This symposium will address relevant urban issues over the past two decades. It serves to bridge past museum research with current initiatives and renew the community relationships that are crucial to the Museum’s work. more

The Sound of Music Is The Sound of Community Resilience

Blog Post //
Jul 29, 2014
Researchers and policymakers have noted that communities which are more thoroughly integrated before a natural disaster or an outbreak of conflict and violence rejuvenate faster than those communities in which people remain distant from one another. Hefty scholarly tomes and snappy policy briefs are being churned out musing over just how the social capital necessary for sustainable community resilience can be secured. As a lazy summery evening listening to Sharón Clark -- and enjoying the company of others who share their love for her music --demonstrates, the arts can play an indispensable role in connecting people so that they can live together in resilient communities. more

Don’t Forget About Governance: The Risk of Tunnel Vision in Chasing Resilience for Asia’s Cities

Article //
Jul 29, 2014
Asia is going through an unprecedented wave of urbanization. Secondary and tertiary cities are seeing the most rapid changes in land-use and ownership, social structures, and values as peri-urban and agricultural land become part of metropolitan cityscapes. All the while, climate change is making many of these fast-growing cities more vulnerable to disasters. more

Acting Out Gentrification: Theater as Community Engagement

Blog Post //
Jul 08, 2014
Communities undergoing gentrification often fail to find ways to talk across the fault lines running among newcomers and old-timers. Neither group shares the reference points that are necessary to engage in shared conversation. A new play about young professionals moving into once working-class “Mid-City” Washington neighborhoods, Districtland, by Wilson Center scholar Cristina Bejan, demonstrates how powerfully theater can bring a community’s most aching trials into view. more

How Cities Can Foster Tolerance and Acceptance

Publication //
Jul 03, 2014
"Cities around the world have become agglomerations of ethnicities, religions, classes, and nationalities. Creating socially sustainable cities that can accommodate migrants and their diversity requires policies that nurture shared identity and maintain spaces whose use can be shared by everybody, promoting a pragmatic pluralism and a culture of tolerance," writes Blair Ruble. more

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