On Thursday, two initiatives, Urban@UW and the MetroLab Network, were launched in an effort to combat the city’s most pressing urban issues. University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, Mayor Ed Murray, and Urban@UW Program Director Thaisa Way joined forces with a room full of university faculty and city officials to begin discussions and workshops on ways to solve challenges that face the city.
Urban@UW brings together UW faculty from various departments in an effort to use their various backgrounds and knowledge to aid in solving problems that not only affect Seattle, but cities around the nation and the world.
The event allowed for workshops to take place that would start a dialogue on how to make the city wiser. Faculty members from all three of the UW’s campuses, along with local policy makers, broke out into six groups discussing climate change and environmental justice, disaster preparedness and response, food and economic disparity, growth and transportation, housing and poverty, and the MetroLab Network.
“This collaboration contributes to the innovation imperative that is creating an environment dedicated to inclusive innovation,” Way said in regards to the foundation of Urban@UW.
While acknowledging the challenges ahead, Way is confident that collaboration is the cornerstone of success.
“Where our strength lies is not in working alone but in working together and in working differently, so that we can have a collective impact,” Way said.
To add to this collective effort is the MetroLab Network, a nationwide partnership between research institutions, such as the UW, and city officials to use their resources, skills, and knowledge to revitalize and bring forth a smarter city.
MetroLab Network will bring together the academic experiences of the UW faculty with the experience of city officials to bring data-driven policy that will impact the community in a positive way.
“There’s incredible potential here for us as a city and a university to grow together,” Murray said.
It is this potential that has inspired Murray, the city of Seattle, and the UW to join forces to find the best practices needed to overcome the upcoming challenges. It is in facing these challenges that Cauce believes Seattle can be the first city to get it right.
“We’re not just interested in being a smart city — with all of you in this room — we’re going to be a wise city,” Cauce said.
Using the resources available at the university, Urban@UW and the MetroLab Network will bring research to life in an effort to dismiss the challenges urban areas face.
“Cities are at a critical influxion point right now,” said Margaret O’Mara, associate professor in the Department of History.
For O’Mara, having a more nuanced understanding of the past, while keeping in mind the relationship between governments and markets and emphasizing academic engagement and partnerships within the public sector will be the keys to success within Urban@UW and the MetroLab Network.