Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Summit on Resilience II: The Next Storm

Dyson College of Arts and Sciences - Year in Review 2011-2012

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7 Synopsis The New Face of Urban Resilience By Andrew C. Revkin, Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, and Dot Earth columnist, The New York Times Resilience is often regarded as a physical property. Bamboo is resilient. Cedar is brittle. But through a series of panels and talks at the second Pace University Summit on Resilience, one lesson repeatedly emerged. Resilient cities are not simply those with reliable energy grids and buttressed shorelines. Cities that thrive in this turbulent, promising and perilous century are those in which informed, connected communities have a substantial capacity not just to bounce back, but to bounce forward. They are places where bright ideas flow up within institutions as much as down; where disciplines and departments and public and private enterprises find ways to reach across ossified boundaries; where new infrastructure is not just smart buildings, but a workforce smart enough to run and improve them. These traits are particularly important given that the lessons of the past, while still invaluable, are not necessarily a guide to what lies ahead. Human-driven climate change, for example, essentially guarantees that coastal communities will have no new "normal" shoreline for centuries to come, even if the world somehow gets engaged on rapid reductions in emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide—an unlikely scenario given the relentless global appetite for cheap energy. And the climate is not the only system seeing profound change. Emerging global webs of information, commerce and human mobility are ushering in an era of economic and social evolution in which the only constant seems to be acceleration. Leading off the morning, Nira Herrmann, dean of Pace's Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, stressed that the meeting was not a static set of presentations, but rather was designed as an open search for points of collaborative inquiry and experimentation. "As an academic institution," she said, "we can also be a part of the development of addressable steps or research opportunities that can help to build urban resilience through improved cooperation and communication—between businesses, government and the public—that can help to make our communities places of sustainable growth and opportunity."

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