Director's Message

It is a time of great transformations for our fast urbanizing planet. Emerging changes in the global environment and in society pose unprecedented challenges to human settlements and the quality of life of their inhabitants. Urban problems are becoming more complex and require new syntheses across and between the social and natural sciences.

Leaders of future urban scholarship and practice should be able to tackle complexity and uncertainty and to engage and communicate with diverse populations. Academia, industry and governments demand that we prepare scholars and practitioners who are simultaneously highly versatile and adaptable, and scientifically proficient.

The Ph.D. in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington is one of the oldest PhD Programs in North America (1967). The Program seeks to prepare scholars who can advance the state of scientific research, practice, and education to improve the well-being of human populations and their environment in urban and urbanizing regions throughout the world. With a faculty that ranges from Architecture to Sociology and from Biology to Computer Science, our program provides a strong interdisciplinary educational experience that draws on the resources and talents of the University, and on the rich laboratory offered by the Seattle metropolitan region and the Pacific Rim. Our Program emphasizes the educational values of interdisciplinarity, intellectual leadership and integrity, and the social values of equity, diversity, democracy, and sustainability.

Building on solid foundations of interdisciplinary research, the Program has now emerged as the 4th best Program in the national ranking in 2007. The vitality and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff have been instrumental to the evolution of our program towards one of the most competitive and innovative PhD programs in urban design and planning in the country with unique research clusters in urban ecology, community development, land use and infrastructure, real estate, and urban modeling.

Challenges to achieving excellence in urban scholarship and practice in the long-term are: 1) anticipating long term research priorities and evolving research agendas, 2) maintaining a balance between disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity, and 3) linking the program to the broader community to build knowledge that is relevant and effectively transferable to practice. During the last two years we have engaged in exploring the emerging research agendas and in strategic planning. This Biennial Report is a synthesis of the collective and individual recent accomplishments of our team as part of the larger community of scientists and practitioners in urban design and planning.

Thank you all for your excellent work and your commitment to knowledge!

Marina Alberti