Humphrey School News—September 6, 2016

Humphrey School Hosts U.S. City Leaders to Address Urban Sustainability Solutions

City and utility leaders from eight U.S. cities gathered in Minneapolis on August 28 and 29, 2016, for the City-University Partnership Workshop for Sustainable Healthy Cities. The event was co-hosted by Gayle Prest, City of Minneapolis sustainability director, and Anu Ramaswami, Humphrey School of Public Affairs professor, and was facilitated by Robert Johns, senior fellow at the Humphrey School. 

Representatives from Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York City, St. Paul, and Tallahassee joined students and faculty from the eight universities involved in the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network to provide early input on the Network’s research and to ensure its relevance to the needs of cities. Together they discussed:

  • Emerging issues around sustainability, health, and well-being
  • Metrics used to track environmental sustainability, human health, subjective well-being, and livability
  • Potential infrastructure solutions being explored in the sectors of energy and water/wastewater, green infrastructure and urban farming, and transportation
  • Critical areas for collaboration in the Network and next steps

“The workshop was very beneficial in that city and utility staff had the opportunity to exchange ideas, challenges and previous learnings about local infrastructure efforts in an atmosphere that encourage honest and open exchange among the network of universities, cities and graduate students," said Gayle Prest. "There was heavy emphasis on real world applicability for cities as we move forward.”

The workshop was the final of three components to the Network’s annual five-day gathering. The first component was a course for graduate students from all eight universities to learn vocabulary across disciplines and also become familiar with research design and practical application of a research framework to help inform policy and action.  The second component brought together the faculty and students to plan the coming year’s research and to align it with the Network’s central research question. 

About Sustainable Healthy Cities Network

The Sustainable Healthy Cities Network is a unique partnership of university researchers, students, and scientists, industry leaders, and policy partners, who are co‐developing knowledge to enable urban infrastructure transformation toward environmentally sustainable, healthy, and livable cities. This Network is supported by a $12M grant from the National Science Foundation’s Sustainability Research Network program. The Network connects nine research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, as well as infrastructure firms and policy groups.

Professor Anu Ramaswami from the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy research area is the lead PI and director of the Network. Several University of Minnesota faculty from the Humphrey School (Urban and Regional Planning and the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center), engineering, and public health are also involved. The Network reflects the University’s efforts to address society’s grand challenges through interdisciplinary efforts.

For more information about the visit the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network website, or  contact Tracy Fallon, operations manager: 612-626-2678 or

Leaders from eight U.S. cities gather with university partners in Minneapolis
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