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Annual Letter, Fall 2017

Greetings and Happy New School Year!

We are thrilled to mark the start of Urban@UW’s third year as a university-wide initiative realizing powerful partnerships across sectors and disciplines that impact cities and urban systems. We are honored to have become a go-to place for community and civic leaders when seeking expertise within the university community. Through this work we have helped to expand strategic community engagement with faculty research and student learning. We have helped to reduce barriers to collaborative research and broadened the potential for scholarship to be translated into practice. This is exciting as it reflects our broad coalition of faculty engaged in urban research, teaching, and service and how we can contribute as a university to real impact in our cities, region and the world.

As we move into a new year, we continue to advocate to broaden support for research and teaching collaborations, as well as cross-sector discussions on urban issues. We are building the argument for the importance of studying 21st-century challenges through the lens of urban systems, a lens which is increasingly recognized politically and academically. As urban questions, they require collaborative and innovative methods and approaches, in full knowledge that connecting diverse individuals and fostering emergent ideas is critical, risky and messy, requiring both a comfort with ambiguity and alternative ways of thinking about scholarship and productivity. This thinking grounds our efforts to expand a strong network across the University as well as Seattle and the nation, connecting research and approaches to catalyze new collaborations addressing urban challenges.

Across campus. This year we partnered with the West Coast Poverty Center to bring together faculty who study issues related to homelessness and housing. We brought together over 50 researchers from across the university around this critical topic. We surveyed both community service providers and UW researchers about their work and needs related to homelessness research. We helped faculty to develop key projects that are now moving forward as community-engaged projects, facilitating numerous partnerships and collective efforts.

With our community. Urban@UW is a founding partner of Livable City Year, a cross-disciplinary program pairing local cities with UW to allow faculty and students to address city-identified projects. We provided significant support in the pilot year, and facilitated key relationships and intellectual partnership along with the College of Built Environments, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and others including the Association for Washington Cities. Livable City Year completed 17 projects with the City of Auburn, has been lauded for its innovative approach to community engagement, and is now partnering with Tacoma.

Across the region. In partnership with Urbanalytics Studio and the eScience Institute, we are partnering with the University of British Columbia to establish the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative. This regional partnership includes the Data Science for Social Good program, a summer intensive experiential learning program whose work is increasingly recognized for being bold, groundbreaking, and catalytic.

Through these projects as well as more nascent partnerships around urban environmental justice, urban waste systems and more, we are tackling city-related challenges while modeling what it takes to effect change through collaborative research, teaching and practice. In the coming year we will be focused on broadening engagement in these efforts, building the infrastructure that supports our collective efforts to make the UW #1 for impact.

We hope you will consider participating in our efforts if you have not already- and if you have- thank you. For all, best wishes for a productive and challenging year ahead.


Thaisa Way, College of Built Environments; Executive Director, Urban@UW

and the Urban@UW Executive Committee:

Scott Allard, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

Bill Howe, Information School

Susan Kemp, School of Social Work

Margaret O’Mara, College of Arts & Sciences