NEW YORK CITY-Looking to improve the quality of life in the world’s cities, New York University announced on Wednesday that it has established an institute dedicated to urban development and sustainability. Funded by a $40 million donation from entrepreneur and philanthropist Donald Marron, the aptly named Marron Institute will focus on policies and initiatives aimed at creating more livable cities, according an official announcement of the new facility.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was on hand for the announcement, heaped praise on Marron, a lifelong New Yorker and the chairman of Lightyear Capital. “Don Marron has given a tremendous amount to make his hometown a better place, so it’s fitting that this institute—which I know will do a tremendous amount to build a strong future not only for New York but for all the world’s cities—should bear his name,” Bloomberg said. “Making sure that cities remain centers of innovation and learning is key to our future.”
The time for the study of urban issues is overdue, according to the institute’s website. “The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. In 2007, for the first time in human history, half of the world’s population—3.6 billion people—lived in cities. And by 2050, that figure is expected to nearly double to 6.3 billion people,” the site says.
“This rapid and unprecedented urbanization has major consequences for quality of life and economic opportunity,” it continues, “for approaches to urban governance and regulation, and for the design of the built environment and the management of natural resources. Cities around the world are grappling with these issues and looking for new evidence on how to best build a sustainable, equitable, prosperous and resilient urban future. “
The institute will work to solve many dilemmas faced by urban dwellers using connections to a wide variety of fields, the website reports. “[The institute's] network of scholars and research centers across NYU allows for a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to urban questions, drawing from the fields of public health, environmental and land use law, energy economics, social policy, history, urban planning, and urban systems, informatics and engineering.
It’s connection to NYU, and that school’s many departments and affiliations, will help the institute as well. More specifically, Marron will connect the Center for Urban Science and Progress, the Institute for Public Knowledge and the Urbanization Project both to each other and to other areas of the university, drawing on the collective knowledge to “leverage the synergies of their work and collaborate on new research,” the site says.
The Marron Institute will be lead by current Dean of the NYU Law School Richard Revesz, who will be stepping down from his dean position in May.
“Rapid urbanization, and particularly the challenges and opportunities it poses for the natural environment, must prompt a rethinking of higher education’s role in the research and teaching of cities,” commented Dean Richard Revesz. “The Marron Institute is a tremendous opportunity to do just that, and I am thrilled to work on this exciting new effort. The Institute will explore the intersecting issues cities face through an unprecedented University-wide lens and promote cross-cutting research and teaching on the urban environment.”