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SEED magazine and the urban research agenda

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By Bethany Cutts - Posted on 26 July 2010

Geoffrey West, a physicist and former director of the Santa Fe Institute, writes about the super linear potential of cities - in cities, both innovation and other amenities accrue at a faster rate than they would in more rural regions. Environmental and social disamenities are also (and equally) prevalent. This is an interesting phenomenon that he argues, is also cautionary because the rate at which change is occuring. Implicit in his argument are a few themes worth exploration:
1. Disamenities are unintentional biproducts of the accumulation of wealth
2. The current system of problem-innovation-problem embodies a "sustainable growth" perspective which relies on being able to innovate over increasingly short intervals or shifting to a different model of social and economuc arrangements.

The article made me wonder whether the shift to an urban globe (mor worldwide residents in urban that rural regions) will push society in to a new trajectory for innovation and disamentiy production.

I think the article covers a lot of important priorities for urban research and sustainability science in a relatively short amount of space and in a way that is digestible to a well learned public (SEED magazing strikes me as one that caters to the 'Science Friday' contingent of NPR listeners). West fits in a little Marx, a little physics, a little social networks, and a research agenda for urban ecology and sustainability science.

West's 'Urban Paradox' Article: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/urban_paradox/
The Santa Fe Institute: http://www.santafe.edu/