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NSF Dear Colleague Letter seeks conferences on sustainable urban systems research

On December 18, 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) seeking conference proposals on "Concepts for Advancing Sustainable Urban Systems Research Networks." The submission deadline is March 22, 2019 by 5:00 p.m., submitter's local time.

Informal STEM education and science communication professionals might consider contributing to or participating in a proposal, given the DCL’s language on cross-sector collaboration, sustainability education, bridging research and practice, and broadening participation.

Conference proposals should present promising ideas and visions for advancing large-scale research networks for Sustainable Urban Systems (SUS). Two previous NSF competitions established five SUS research networks, each funded for about $12 million with an original duration of 4 to 5 years. With this DCL, NSF is looking to inform the “next-generation” of SUS research networks that enable “broader, more extensive, and more comprehensive SUS researcher and education” (see this webpage). Here’s the 2014 solicitation.

The DCL says that proposals “should be guided, but not constrained” by what is described in the previous competitions, as well as the January 2018 report, "Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda" from the NSF's Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (ACERE). This report articulates a vision and research agenda for developing the next generation of sustainable urban systems science.

Additional Guidance

The DCL provides the following guidance for potential applicants, emphasis CAISE’s:

  • “In particular, it would be beneficial for conference proposals to include plans to identify activities that could catalyze strong industry-municipality-academia collaborations on use-inspired research that has high potential for significant societal and sustainability impacts.
  • It would also be advantageous for proposals to describe activities that will develop a deeper understanding of urban systems as integrated, social-ecological-technological systems and that will improve education related to SUS themes.
  • Proposers are encouraged to address themes of convergence science and engineering, and should bring together researchers, educators, and practitioners from academia, industry, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations.
  • Conferences should draw participants from diverse sectors, some of which may typically not be represented, such as community members, humanities scholars, and artists.
  • Proposers are also encouraged to consider geographical diversity as appropriate for the topic when describing specific strategies for recruiting conference participants.
  • Proposals that explore innovative approaches to broadening participation and the incorporation of concepts and aspects of NSF INCLUDES (the Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science initiative) into conference proceedings and outcome reports are also desired.”

For more information and instructions on how to submit a proposal, read the full DCL.