N.C. A&T welcomed 150 sustainability professionals from across North Carolina to commemorate the first annual Southeast Urban Sustainability Summit (SEUSS). Academic researchers from 14 universities, sustainability directors and leaders from numerous North Carolina municipalities and representatives from industry were all on hand to form a convergence research network to guide future research.
After opening ceremonies and keynote addresses, attendees broke-out into smaller focused “urban systems” for sharing and brainstorming: energy, transportation, water, housing, health and safety and food/agriculture. Each urban system identified grand challenges and barriers. By involving academic, government and industry voices, the research initiatives that come from SEUSS will be user-inspired, representing the best ideas which are both practical and bold.
Towards the end of the summit, attendees prioritized the list of grand challenges and mapped the challenges to key sustainable urban systems research elements identified by National Science Foundation. The most pressing outcomes of the summit were the need for better modeling tools for use by municipalities as well as more consistent community representation in pursuing grants to keep research initiatives grounded in real application versus theoretical exercises.
At the conclusion of the summit, research teams were formed based on the urban systems focus areas, and they have started pursuing funding to help them solve the most pressing problems. SEUSS intends to expand its leadership team and grow its network to include more universities, more state and local government representation and more industry participation.
Dr. Vicki Foust, Principal Investigator, was funded by the National Science Foundation to plan and host SEUSS.