Overview of PIRE Sustainability Summer Course

A team of leading sustainability authorities from across the globe led by Dr. Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny Jr. Chair Professor of Science Technology & Public Policy, is coordinating a summer school that is training students on solving Asia’s most vexing sustainability problems.

The “Sustainable Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities: India” summer program is unique in bringing a cohort of 10 students from four United States universities together with 10 students from Indian universities to learn and work together on building sustainable and healthy cities. The students are trained in widely varying disciplines- mathematics, engineering, environmental science, urban planning and public affairs – all of which are needed to solve the sustainability challenge.

In addition to the Humphrey School, students will learn from leading faculty researchers from Georgia Tech, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado – Denver and Yale. Together, the team with Indian partners – Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, ICLEI-South Asia, the Resource Optimization Initiative, and The Urban Health Research Center – will conduct team-based field work in six Indian cities with populations ranging from 2 to 17 million people. Students will monitor a wide variety of sustainability indicators including human development, resource use, air pollution, and health outcomes, and study key technology, urban planning, and policy solutions to improve these indicators. A similar summer school will take place in China next year.

“This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration from the world’s top sustainability experts,” said Dr. Ramaswami.  “By learning field work, inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and systems thinking skills, students participating in this program will be uniquely positioned to tackle sustainability issues not only in Asia but across the globe.”

This summer school is part of an National Science Foundation Partnership in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant that focuses on “Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the USA, China & India through Inter-Disciplinary Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences & Public Health,” led by the University of Minnesota. This PIRE project seeks to  develop a transformative international research, education and outreach program to assist in the development of low-carbon, resource-efficient and healthy cities in the US, China and India.

Faculty on this grant have prepared for this summer school in a recent workshop held at the National Academy of Engineering.

Submitted by Peter Lindstrom, Assistant Director of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

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