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Luis Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 29, 2022    1:15pm

Planning for Complexity: Some theory and two challenging applications

A lecture by Luis Bettencourt, Inaugural Director, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Professor Ecology and Evolution and the College Associate Faculty, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago External Professor, Santa Fe Institute

Worldwide urbanization, the growing availability of data, new uses of technology and the urgent challenges of climate change and equity are all profoundly changing how we understand and plan cities.

In this talk and discussion, I will start by describing the emerging framework for understanding cities as complex systems, made up of interconnected social and infrastructural networks, and channeling human agency towards societal change. I will discuss in this light new tools for planning, supporting human centric approaches and working with urban processes of change and development. I will then provide two illustrations of new research characterizing i) measures of human development in US cities and neighborhoods and ii) the structure of African cities measured via massive new building footprint datasets. I will argue that this sort of evidence and tools together with the imperatives of fast sustainable development require new frameworks for collaborative planning which bring together bottom up processes characteristic of the dynamics at the household and local communities with more traditional approaches and new training for early career planners and urbanists.

Luís M. A. Bettencourt is the Inaugural Director the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago and Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the College. He is also Associate Faculty of the Department of Sociology and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He conducts interdisciplinary research on complex adaptive systems in biology and society and leads research and education programs in Urban Science and Sustainable Development. His research focuses on the identification, modeling and theory of the systemic processes and properties that create and sustain cities. This work uses interdisciplinary concepts together with many different forms of evidence and data to create new theoretical and methodological syntheses that account for the complex properties of urban environments and produce new science-based solutions. This work also involves partnerships and collaborations with international networks of researchers, local governments and NGOs to understand and systematize urban knowledge, and to foster processes of sustainable development. His work is well-known academically and has been influential in developing new theory and new creative approaches to challenges of urbanization worldwide.

This lecture will be presented virtually, please register in advance for the Zoom link.

Organized by the PhD students in the Urban Planning Program at Columbia GSAPP. Free and open to the public.

Virtual events hosted on Zoom Webinar do not require an account to attend, advanced registration is encouraged. GSAPP is committed to providing universal access to all of our virtual events. Please contact up@arch.columbia.edu to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.