Santa Fe Institute

Can There Be a Science of Cities?


July 12, 2012 - July 14, 2012
Noyce Conference Room

Workshop Wiki

The aim of this workshop will be to cover, and thereby integrate, the main disciplinary issues and advances relating to cities and urbanization generated by sociology, urban economics, complex systems, statistical physics and urban planning, combined with empirical knowledge of large urban systems worldwide from Europe, the USA and Brazil to China, Japan and Africa. Societal issues closely related to this are questions of the dynamics of innovation, cycles of boom and bust, the seemingly inevitable increase in the pace of life, and the specter of a “planet of slums”—pollution, disease and conflict.

Given the magnitude of the many problems we are currently facing world-wide under the umbrella of global sustainability, such as the environment, climate change, health, quality of life, poverty, energy and resources, financial markets, risk and crime, and the central role played by cities and urbanization, it is becoming clear that there is an urgent need for developing a broad, more integrated scientific framework that is quantitative and predictive. Is this, in fact, possible and, if so, how could it provide a credible paradigm for helping practitioners and politicians solve the enormous challenges created by urbanization?

We will bring together approximately 20-25 participants representing diverse expertise in understanding and dealing with the structure, organization and growth dynamics of cities and urbanization in its many manifestations. Participants will include mathematical, physical and social scientists, economists and practitioners such as urban architects and planners. 

Purpose: Research Collaboration

SFI Host: Geoffrey West, Luis Bettencourt and Jose Lobo

  • * SFI community lectures are free, open, & accessible to the public.
  • * Other SFI events are by invitation only.

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