As cities around the world become increasingly prominent as centers of financial markets, cultural innovation, and international migration it is more urgent than ever that our educational institutions enable teaching and research on urban topics. Urbanization is not only a global phenomenon of physical and cultural restructuring; it has itself become a spatial effect of the distributed networks of communication, resources, finance and migration that characterize contemporary life. The emergence of this global urban culture has had complicated social, aesthetic, economic, physical, and political effects, many of which are still little studied or understood.
The study of the city is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Cities are complex entities that cannot be reduced to a few variables. Moreover, as cities have grown and changed, urbanism is no longer exclusively associated with dense city centers. An increasing awareness of the environmental effects of urban growth means that the city needs to be understood within a larger ecological context. All of this makes the city a fruitful research topic and a rich teaching vehicle across a wide range of fields. The Princeton-Mellon Initiative seeks to advance our understanding of these questions, while also probing unforeseen possibilities.
With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in 2014 the University launched the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities, an interdisciplinary program that combines the efforts of a diverse group of faculty, programs, and schools to develop a more dynamic and nuanced understanding of urban issues today.