The Annual Ph.D. Symposium

Presented by the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington


2016: The Future City: Emergence of a New Science

Keynote Speakers: Luis Bettencourt & Carlo Ratti

Thursday, May 5, 9:00 am -- 4:00 pm
Intellectual House

Please RSVP!

What drives urban evolution? Are there underlying mechanisms and universal laws of urban change? What are the scenarios of plausible urban futures? What do we know, and what do we not know? How can big data and new technologies transform the sciences, decision-making, and the practice? What are the emerging challenges for future research? What kinds of cities do we want to live in? How can communities imagine and direct urban change to create the cities we desire?

Luis Bettencourt, from Santa Fe Institute, is a theoretical physicist who studies the city as complex system with an emphasis on identifying underlying laws that drive innovation and urban change as well as the role of social networks within these urban systems.

Carlo Ratti, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, directs the Senseable City Lab which explores urban imagination and social innovation through design and science.



2015: Scale and Resilience in Planning: from the Salish Sea to the Chengdu Plain

Keynote Speakers: Lance Gunderson & Frans Padt

Thursday, May 7, 9:00 am -- 4:45 pm
Petersen Room of Allen Library, Room #485

Please RSVP!

The intellectual focus of the Symposium will be the ways in which socio-ecological system processes operate across scale, and the methodological implications for scholarship and planning practice. The Symposium will focus on two case studies (Western Sichuan, China, and the Salish Sea Basin, US-Canada) to address concepts and theories of cross-scale interactions. We aim to gain a better understanding of how to choose relevant scales for analysis of specific problems, and how approaches from various disciplines are useful at different scales. Our wish is to make this event a time when we can benefit from the application of theories and concepts about scale and resilience to concrete case studies.

Lance Gunderson, from Emory University's Department of Environmental Sciences, has served as the Executive Director of the Resilience Network and is Co-Editor in Chief of the online journal Ecology and Society.

Frans Padt, from Pennsylvania State University's Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education and the Department of Landscape Architecture, is a pioneer in addressing issues of scale-sensitive governance of the environment.



2014: The Centrality of Urban in the Anthropocene: Implications for Graduate Research and Education

Keynote Speakers: Drs. Geoffrey West & Henrik Ernstson

Tuesday, May 6, 10:00 am -- 4:00 pm
Center for Urban Horticulture, NHS Hall

The study of cities is gaining a new centrality. Planetary-scale changes pose inevitably new challenges to understand complex interactions among ecological, socio-economic, and political processes that govern urban development. A very diverse and complex landscape of disciplinary studies ranging from ecology to public health, sociology and political science is shifting the focus of a significant component of their inquiry towards the "urban". The emerging urban centrality gives "urban studies" a new responsibility and offers our field a unique opportunity for leading a long term interdisciplinary research agenda, transforming modes of inquiry, and reconfiguring educational settings.

Geoffrey West is Distinguished Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute. He has a BA from Cambridge and PhD in physics from Stanford, where he was on the faculty. West's interests are in fundamental questions ranging from elementary particles and universal scaling laws in biology to developing a science of cities, companies and global sustainability. His research includes metabolism, growth, aging & death, cancer, ecosystems, innovation, and the accelerating pace of life. He has received many awards and been featured across the media. His work was selected as a breakthrough idea by Harvard Business Review in 2007 and for Time's 2006 list of "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Henrik Ernstson's background lies in system ecology (PhD) and applied physics (MA), but he has developed a core interest in urban political ecology and social movement studies. He is currently Stig Hagstrom scholar at Department of History, Stanford University and was previously at the Stockholm Resilience Center. He is PI of two research projects that combine ethnographic, critical and social network studies around ways of knowing urban ecologies and socioecological movements in Cape Town, New Orleans and Stockholm. Recently he published on urban ecology and African/postcolonial urbanism in Antipode and Regional Studies and leads an book project with studies from Lagos, Rio, Delhi, Yixing (China), San Francisco and Berlin.



2013: History of Settlement

Panel Discussion: Chaired by Dr. Steve Harrell
Tuesday, May 21st, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Gould Hall, Room 208J

Please join us in our Annual Symposium exploring the history of the evolution of urban development, and what role this history has in what we see today in current urban development and more importantly, what does it mean for the future of cities.



2012: Urban Resilience

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Charles Redman

Panel Discussions
Wednesday, April 25, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Petersen Room, Allen Library, Room 485

Please join us in our Annual Symposium exploring the diverse dimensions of resilience in urbanizing regions and the implications for urban scholarship and planning practice. The symposium will begin with a keynote address by Dr. Charles Redman, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment, Distinguished Scientist at the Global Institute of Sustainability, and Founding Director of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University ( Dr. Redman is a pioneer in thinking about urban resilience in coupled human-natural systems and offers a broad perspective on resilience and sustainability. The talk will be followed by a UW faculty panel and discussion addressing the social, economic, ecological, institutional, and cultural aspects in developing a framework for thinking about urban resilience.



2011: Our Intellectual Identity and Emerging Synergies

John Friedmann: Reflections on a life in planning
April 28, 7:00pm
Johnson Hall, Room 102

an Honorary Professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at The University of British Columbia and continues as Professor Emeritus in the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. His current research is on urbanization processes with special reference to China. His most recent book is Insurgencies: Essays in Planning Theory (Routledge, 2011), a collection of essays on the history and evolution of planning theory.

Panel Discussions
April 29, 10:00am - 4:00pm
Parrington Hall, Room 102

Join us in a discussion on what is unique about our program intellectual domain, what are the emerging opportunities for cross-fertilization and how planning theory and practice link our research areas. The day will be structured around four panels, each addressing a specific area of planning specialization, with John Friedmann serving as the general discussant. 



2010: Charting Our Future by Reflecting on Our Past

April 22, 9:30am - 4:30pm
April 23, 9:30am - 12:30pm
Peterson Room, Allen Library, Room 485

More information coming soon.



2009: Bridging Academia and Practice in Planning Research

April 20, 11:00am - 3:00pm
Peterson Room, Allen Library, Room 485

In this year's symposium, we will reflect on the opportunities and challenges in linking academic research and practice in the field of planning. This symposium will be structured around a panel discussion featuring key scholars and practitioners in the field of planning, and a session presenting the current dissertation research from the students of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Urban Design and Planning and the Ph.D. Program in the Built Environment.