The workshop was organized against a backdrop of rapidly growing renewed interest in the theme of urbanization, which was characterized by Simon in the 1980’s as “the major challenge for [organization] sciences in the 20th century”. To be clear, that does not in any way reduce the importance of the huge amount of work that has already been done on this theme, both in Europe and in North America, in part by participants in this workshop (Batty, Pumain, etc.).
But this work is now reaching a different stage, in part due to the application of complex systems theory to this domain as a result of the work first initiated in the ISCOM project (funded by the ICT directorate of the EU, and led by Lane, van der Leeuw, Pumain and West as PI’s), which seems to be pointing to the possibility that the community may actually be reaching a mature stage in which a theory of urbanization is achievable.
Clearly, this renewed activity is also driven by the fact that the percentage of the world’s population that is living in cities continues to rapidly increase, and that many cities are now so large that a whole new set of challenges arises.