Stanford University’s Sustainable Urban Systems initiative applies multiple engineering knowledge fields in an integrated approach to shape the future of our cities.

Today’s urban areas provide a disparate quality of life and quality of services to their populations, and they inflict a mostly adverse impact on our natural environment. Our challenge is to design and re-engineer our urban environments for the future to provide modern services in ways that allow humans and nature to flourish.

The engineered systems that support cities today are largely stand-alone entities, such as the electricity grid designed by individual sectors under the assumption that bigger is better to leverage economies of scale. Unfortunately, this approach often creates inflexible systems that can be difficult to manage, impose high environmental costs and largely ignore interactions with the people they serve. Yet with advances in information systems, engineered technologies and understanding of human behavior, we can design cities that respond better to the needs of the inhabitants and adapt more readily to changing climatic and environmental pressures and demands.

See past student projects and initiatives like our annual Symposium. If you are a current Stanford student, explore our courses available during the 2016-17 academic year. If you are a prospective graduate student, learn how you can apply to our new Sustainable Urban Systems concentration in the Sustainable Design and Construction Masters of Science program.