New Wilson Center Initiative on Global Sustainability and ResilienceAugust 20, 2012 By Blair A. Ruble
We live in an era when the pace and scope of global change – including forces such as population growth, resource scarcity, urbanization, migration, and economic development – increasingly impact all of us as individuals, from our health and security to our environment and economic well-being. This complex web of the global and local has led the Wilson Center to create a new initiative focusing on global sustainability and resilience.
Following on the news that long-time ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko is moving on to a well-deserved post directing environmental studies at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, I am thrilled to announce that I will direct a new Wilson Center initiative on global sustainability and resilience, which will combine the ongoing efforts of the Environmental Change and Security Program, Global Health Initiative, China Environment Forum, and Comparative Urban Studies Project. This new initiative will integrate and build upon their already substantial contributions to the field.
For those who may have followed my work at the Kennan Institute, I will continue my affiliation with it by serving as a senior advisor and working on questions of urbanization, migration, and diversity in Russia and Ukraine. Geoff will continue to be associated with ECSP as a consulting director.
Such moments of transition are frequently described as “bittersweet.” But this time there is no bitter, only sweet. For the past quarter-century I have held what is arguably the best position in the field of Russian studies. I have worked with truly incredible colleagues who consistently converted my dreams into reality. I will be forever grateful to the hardworking Kennan staff in Washington, Moscow, and Kyiv; to the Kennan Institute Advisory Council members who have given me sage counsel along the way; to the scholars who have so thoughtfully contributed to our programs; and to the donors who made everything that we achieved possible.
Looking forward, I am excited to spend the next stage of my career steeped in issues about which I have come to care deeply. The challenge of nurturing a rich variety of human experiences that can inspire social resilience deserves great reflection, which I hope our program activities can advance here on New Security Beat and elsewhere.
The nexus of issues tackled by ECSP – from demography and development to the environment and security – is one that excites me and meshes nicely with my previous work. In addition to my work at Kennan, I have headed the Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Project for two decades, participating in a number of projects on urban social resilience and sustainability. My own scholarship – which examines the fate of Russian cities during the 20th century as well as looking at contemporary Ukrainian, Canadian, and American cities – explores the challenges of urban diversity and touches on the impact of demographic change.
It’s clear that as the world’s population heads towards 10 billion before the end of this century, natural resource scarcity, urbanization, and human health and security will continue to converge in many ways. I look forward to taking on these issues and introducing my own specialties here at ECSP.