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Urban Science: Integrated Theory from the First Cities to Sustainable Metropolises


Urban science seeks to understand the fundamental processes that drive, shape and sustainable cities and urbanization. It is a multi/transdisciplinary approach involving concepts, methods, and research from the social, natural, engineering and computational sciences, along with the humanities. This report is intended to convey the current “state of the art” in urban science while also clearly indicating how urban science builds upon and complements (but does not replace) prior work on cities and urbanization in many other disciplines. The report does not aim at a fully comprehensive synopsis of work done under the rubric of “urban science” but it does aim to convey what makes urban science different from discipline-based examinations of cities and urbanization. It also highlights novel insights generated by the inherently multidisciplinary inquiry that urban science exemplifies. The authors of the report are all based in academic or research institutions but several of them are close to practice by virtue of collaboration with NGOs and community groups and engagement with policy. The authors also represent different academic disciplines and varied traditions of scientific inquiry. The report is meant to facilitate, and hopefully also provoke, discussion among the many stakeholders for whom a scientifically based, empirically rich, and historically deep understanding of cities and urbanization is not only intellectually compelling but also socially urgent and ethically pressing. We believe that the innovative scholarship constituting urban science can importantly provide scientific leadership to support meeting the urgent challenges of global sustainable development.


Working Paper


Jose Lobo, Luis Bettencourt, Marcus Hamilton, Geoffrey West, Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Hyejin Youn

Date Published



Lobo, Jose, Luis Bettencourt, Marcus Hamilton, Geoffrey West, Vicky Chuqiao Yang, and Hyejin Youn. 2020. Urban Science: Integrated Theory from the First Cities to Sustainable Metropolises.


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