If the past teaches, what does the future learn?

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Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
Carole Crumley, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Carrie Hritz, SESYNC
Christian Isendahl, University of Gothenburg
Associated Program: 


To ensure the human future, it is of utmost importance that the conditions, ideas, and practices that nurture both the planet and our species be implemented. Of particular concern are today’s cities, many of which are not sited or planned for long-term sustainability. IHOPE asserts that the laboratory of the past is where sustainable urban forms can be identified and their characteristics evaluated for future use. We propose to demonstrate how insights from the study of ancient urban systems can add to composite pools of knowledge that integrate with 21st century technological and other knowledge of how to reduce future risk and vulnerability. This Foundation will explore how long-lasting cities of the past remained sustainable, even in the face of environmental change. The team will examine how their form, metabolism, governance, and environmental management—especially as regards the wider support system—have ensured sustainability, and how unearthing data on ancient urban systems can bring fresh ideas to the human future.

This is SESYNC Leadership-invited Foundation.

Jennifer R. Pournelle, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan
Arlen Chase, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Joel Gunn, UNCG
Vernon Scarborough, University of Cincinnati
Qiong Zhang, Stockholm University, Sweden
Lisa J. Lucero, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Emily Hammer, University of Pennsylvania
John Murphy, Argonne National Laboratory
George Hambrecht, University of Maryland
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