The CCC program's location within Tulane University offers three unique advantages over other interdisciplinary urban studies programs:
1. The CCC Ph.D. Program's integrative orientation and approach to graduate education and research reflects a long history of initiatives undertaken by Tulane faculty to understand our natural and human environment, improve human life, and develop paths to sustainability.
For example, "Urban" and "community" studies emerged as key areas for growth in the strategic planning process initiated by Tulane President Scott Cowen in 1999-2000. During these years, several faculty members banded together to craft an initiative to create an undergraduate College of Human and Urban Ecology (CHUE), which received seed funding in Tulane University's Wall Grant competition. Those associated with CHUE brought in outside advisors, commissioned a marketing study, and designed a full undergraduate curriculum with four distinct tracks and detailed course descriptions for the program. The CHUE initiative was ready for implementation when Katrina struck and Tulane initiated a major reorganization of the university. Over the last few years, Tulane's commitment to urban and community research and education has accelerated with the creation of a flourishing Urban Studies minor, which is poised to grow and expand in the coming years. In short, the CCC Ph.D. Program builds on past research and education initiatives and complements Tulane University's 2006 Renewal Plan to restructure academic organization to achieve greater synergy among related disciplines, to focus resources on programs of existing strength, and to put greater emphasis on subjects related to the transformation of urban communities.
2. The CCC Ph.D. Program's integration of disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, and inter-disciplinary perspectives will help create new methods, theories, and innovative approaches to address the world's most challenging urban, environmental, and sustainability problems.
Tulane CCC faculty have been leaders in cultivating multi- and interdisciplinary connections and research projects to confront our urban and environmental challenges. Recently, Kevin Gotham and John McLachlan of the Center for Bio-Environmental Research (CBR) received funding from the NSF to investigate the impact of trauma on urban ecological and social systems using post-Katrina New Orleans as a study area. This project, funded through the NSF's Urban Long Term Research Area (ULTRA) initiative, involves an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, biologists, sociologists, a geographer (Richard Campanella), an anthropologist (Bill Balee), a civil engineer (Earthea Nance, UNO), a trauma psychologist (Charles Figley), a U.S. Forest Service researcher (Wayne Zipperer), plus members of the New Orleans community. By leveraging the research and education resources of three major universities – Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University, a major HBCU - the New Orleans ULTRA project is fostering unique collaborations between ecologists and social scientists in generating new knowledge about human-natural system interactions. The CCC program will build on the success of the ULTRA team by pursuing external funding to support interdisciplinary research aimed at understanding the causes and consequences of urban social problems, relationships between global processes and local change, and the challenges of sustainable development. In doing so, the CCC program promises to create and inspire new scholars and leaders in understanding the interactions among the natural, social, and built environment.
3. The CCC Ph.D. Program will produce highly educated researchers with advanced theoretical and methodological skills and flexibility to compete in an interdisciplinary environment at the frontier of knowledge creation. Training faculty and students to pursue external funding will distinguish the CCC program from peer programs.
Many CCC faculty members are actively engaged in funded or fundable research. Working in an interdisciplinary context, CCC faculty will provide bi-annual grant writing workshops focused on the major issues and problems pertaining to cities, culture, and community. CCC faculty members will help train students and faculty in the skill of grant writing that in turn will help expand opportunities for faculty and student research collaboration. Learning the skill of grant writing will enhance the career prospects of students and expand their employment opportunities in a variety of sectors. Developing a cadre of funded research projects will provide support for the development of premier learning/research resources and innovative academic programming. Organizing and training faculty and students to develop grant proposals can promote diverse research and teaching experiences, stimulate creative thinking, and encourage scholars to develop and apply novel analytical, methodological, and theoretical tools to solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline. Every student will enter in an interdisciplinary laboratory that stimulates creative thinking and promotes transformative research.