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UC Berkeley Press Release

Sir Peter Hall talk kicks off Global Metropolitan Studies program

– A talk by Sir Peter Hall, a renowned geographer and authority on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues facing cities, will launch a new initiative at the University of California, Berkeley, to focus on global metropolitan studies.

Sir Peter Hall
Sir Peter Hall

His presentation is set for 5-6:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 13, in Wurster Hall's auditorium. Hall is the Bartlett professor of planning and regeneration at University College in London and a professor emeritus of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley. He also is a former director of UC Berkeley's Institute of Urban and Regional Development.

The global metropolitan studies center, housed on campus in the Institute of Urban and Regional Development, is one of five new UC Berkeley initiatives established to foster interdisciplinary collaboration. Professors Elizabeth Deakin of city and regional planning and Peter Evans of sociology are the center's co-directors.

The center will investigate questions about the drivers of metropolitan growth and change, the role of the global economy and global consumer culture in shaping metropolitan development, which institutions most effectively meet the needs and preferences of urban populations, how global metropolitan change increases political, economic and spatial segregation, what infrastructure is most efficient and equitable at the metropolitan scale and most responsive to environmental problems, and metropolitan growth impacts on long-term health for people and the natural environment.

The center's program will feature an undergraduate major in urban and metropolitan studies, an interdisciplinary graduate group exploring comparative metropolitan studies, and an interdisciplinary graduate group in infrastructure and environment. New courses will be offered starting in the 2006-2007 academic year.

UC Berkeley has provided $250,000 in startup funds to be used over the first three years of the initiative to develop research programs and to generate additional outside funding. Already, faculty members have secured more than $400,000 in matching research funds.

Five new faculty positions will be established in the departments and groups participating in the new program: architecture, city and regional planning, civil engineering, geography, landscape architecture and environmental planning, the energy and resources group, environmental sciences policy and management, political science, public health and sociology. Subject areas for the positions include metropolitan environmental planning, metropolitan infrastructure systems, comparative metropolitan geography and development, comparative metropolitan sociology, and comparative metropolitan politics and policy.

Hall has written and edited almost 40 books, including: "Sociable Cities"; "Cities of Tomorrow"; "The World Cities", an analysis of the development of seven great urban regions of the world; and "Cities in Civilization: Culture, Technology and Urban Order", a comparative cultural history of cities from ancient Athens to late 20th-century London.

Hall received the 2005 Balzan Prize for his work on the social and cultural history of cities since 1500. The Balzan Prize is one of the highest awards for science, culture and humanitarian achievement. A native of Great Britain, Hall was knighted there in 1998 for his public service to the Town and Country Planning Association, an English voluntary organization.

While at UC Berkeley, Hall wrote about high technology in America, the geography of technological change, and an intellectual history of 20th century urban planning and design.

He has served as a consultant for urban policymaking around the world and testified before the U.S. Congress. He is considered the father of the industrial enterprise zone, adopted by countries worldwide to develop industry in disadvantaged areas.

In addition to metropolitan studies, other new initiatives at UC Berkeley include nanosciences and nanoengineering, new media, computational biology and the environment.