The Center for Urban Studies (CENTER) is a research and community development unit located in the UB School of Architecture and Planning. It's mission is to (1) engage in research that produces knowledge which contributes to understanding and solving the problem of neighborhood distress and building a sustainable urban metropolis (2) develop a model for transforming distressed urban neighborhoods into socially functional communities that are based on the principles of solidarity, collaboration, cosmopolitanism, reciprocity, participatory democracy and social justice, and (3) train students in urban and regional planning with the ability to recreate and rebuild a sustainable metropolis based on socioeconomic justice.

This mission is informed by the belief that neighborhood distress and urban sprawl are interrelated problems that threaten the sustainability of American urban society and contribute to global environmental and social problems. The reason is twofold. Firstly, neighborhood distress continually produces the socioeconomic ills that degenerate human lives and progressively erodes the quality of urban life. Secondly, by triggering middle-class flight from the city, neighborhood distress contributes to urban sprawl, climatic change and environmental degradation. Consequently, neighborhood distress is a significant driver of urban sprawl. Thus, to bring an end to the sprawling metropolis, the problem of neighborhood distress must be solved.

The CENTER believes that theory and practice are interactive elements of the quest to develop a knowledge base capable of solving the problems of neighborhood distress and urban sprawl. Toward this end, the CENTER employs a research model which embraces theoretical, applied and action research, thereby operationalizing each within a framework involving continuous interaction between theory, practice and observation.

With this approach, our neighborhood projects and community outreach activities are conceived as aspects of community problem-solving research. In this method, research is used to generate knowledge and insights used to solve real life problems. The goal is not simply to test our ideas in the real world, but to solve severe community problems.

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