NYU recently announced the launch of the Marron Institute on Cities and the Urban Environment, which will be a hub for work on cities and the urban environment at NYU. It will sponsor interdisciplinary research, develop curricular initiatives, provide an academic community for scholars and students, and help cities around the world become more livable, sustainable, and equitable.

The new initiative is made possible by a gift of $40 million from Donald B. Marron, an entrepreneur, businessman, and philanthropist who was previously chairman of Paine Webber and is the founder and current chairman of Lightyear Capital. Marron was joined by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, NYU President John Sexton, and Marron Institute Director Richard Revesz on NYU’s campus to make the announcement.

“For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population lives in cities,” says Sexton. “There is no doubt that cities are fundamental to our global future, and there is no doubt that NYU—based in the heart of the greatest urban laboratory on the planet—should be the global leader in the study of cities.”

The Marron Institute will bring together three existing institutions at NYU: the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and its degree programs, led by professor Steven Koonin; the Institute for Public Knowledge (IPK), led by professor Eric Klinenberg; and the Urbanization Project (UP), led by professor Paul Romer.

CUSP, which is based in Downtown Brooklyn near the NYU-Poly campus, was one of the designated research centers under Mayor Bloomberg’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative. It will advance the discipline of urban informatics, collect, integrate, and analyze data to improve urban systems, and create tech-related businesses and jobs. Recently, CUSP announced a new M.S. degree in Applied Urban Science and Informatics.

IPK was launched in 2007 to advance public debate and knowledge on critical social issues, and it has developed unique collaborations among urban social science researchers in New York and around the world. Finally, Stern’s Urbanization Project performs pioneering research on urban expansion and the development of charter cities. The Marron Institute will connect these and other centers across the university to build a stronger, more cohesive interdisciplinary research community.

“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,” says Revesz, who will step down as dean of the NYU School of Law on May 31 after 11 years in the position. “The Marron Institute is a tremendous opportunity to do just that. [It] will explore the intersecting issues cities face through an unprecedented university-wide lens and promote cross-cutting research and teaching on the urban environment.” 

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