Cities are the vanguard in addressing immediate effects of climate change, population migration and growth, and infrastructure modernization in the United States. Amidst a general atmosphere of federal and state political deadlock, cities now face frontline and more urgent demands with fewer resources to address
 them. Universities, on the other hand, are virtual laboratories of Big Data, technological breakthroughs, and innovative sustainability research and modeling. The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities proposes to find common ground among a select number of universities and their host cities in its Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) 2.0, to be held in Lincoln August 24–26 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Innovation Campus.

The Roles and Opportunities for Small and Mid-size Cities in Town/Gown Relationships: Actionable Urban/ Rural Planning for the New Urban Agenda is the topic of the conference. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler and UNL Chancellor Ronald Green, along with Joslyn Institute President and CEO W. Cecil Steward, will host mayors, university administration representatives and other decision leaders from among the 14 cities and universities of the Big 10 Academic Council to discuss and lay the groundwork for how these universities and their host cities can collaborate, support, and strategize for long-term sustainability, resilience, and high qualities of life in our regions.

The August UTC 2.0 conference is intended to lay a foundation for a longer-term consortium of cities and their resident universities, in order to provide a vibrant and stronger voice for influencing public policy and sustainable development. The UTC is designed to follow a format we developed for our highly successful first Urban Thinkers Campus in November 2015. Besides substantive plenary sessions, our UTC 2.0 will have a series of concurrent Urban Labs and Round-tables, each centered around such strategies as shared learning, communications, data and metrics, research and innovation, among others. University/city, university/university, city/city, urban/rural, university/city/ rural connections and interdependencies will inform the explorations.

The Joslyn Institute’s Urban Thinkers Campus 2.0 goes far beyond the “smart city” concept to embrace not just technological collaborations, but to include four other domains of sustainability: socio-cultural, environmental, economic and public policy.Guidance for the UTC 2.0 will include UTC 1.0 recommendations, the Paris Climate Agreement, UN–Habitat’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), and the recent Habitat III New Urban Agenda report as foundational materials for the conference considerations of a long-term consortium of the 14 Big 10 universities and their home cities.

Please contact us by phone at 402 730 5996 in Lincoln or 402 933 0080 in Omaha, or via email at jci@sustainabledesign.org for more information.

Sky gazers, take note: Some Urban Thinkers Campus participants are arriving early, in order to view the total solar eclipse on August 21. For the first time since 1776, a total solar eclipse will traverse the entire U.S., and Lincoln, Nebraska, is smack dab in its path. As Bill Nye says, "It’s cool. It’s spectacular. It goes dark. You can see stars in the middle of the day. I know everybody talks about it, but it really is very much out of your everyday experience. It’s weird and very exciting." Join him and the Planetary Society for a great experience here in Nebraska on August 21! More here.