JOB – Research Director, Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI), University of Oregon

Application Deadline:  July 15, 2011

The Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) seeks a highly motivated, organized, and action-oriented individual for a new non-tenure track faculty position to develop and direct a coordinated research agenda for SCI, carry out independent research, and connect and support others’ research as appropriate to advance issues of interest to SCI.

SCI is a cross-disciplinary organization at the University of Oregon (UO) that integrates research, education, service, and public outreach. Its mission is to improve the design, development ,and operation of cities and to serve as a model for universities’ engagement in promoting sustainable cities.  SCI works at a variety of scales from large regions to individual buildings.  In addition to design, SCI addresses issues of policy, governance, and the use and conservation of materials and energy, as well as social aspects of sustainable cities.

SCI connects this work to students, scholars, funders, project partners, and policy makers.  Service learning is a key aspect of this work. Currently, there are 10 different departments and programs actively involved, including planning, architecture, landscape architecture, public policy, law, business, arts administration, journalism, product design, civil engineering, and economics.  SCI is one of the UO’s five Big Ideas, which is an internal program to identify and support key institutional priorities.

SCI’s multi-disciplinary approach is grounded in the belief that multiple perspectives and areas of expertise are the key to addressing issues of sustainability within our communities.  SCI synthesizes existing faculty research work under a single theme, and serves as a catalyst for expanded research and teaching endeavors that result in applied, real world solutions.

The overall purpose of this new position is to lead the research endeavor of SCI, which includes three main activities:

  1. Developing a strategic research program for SCI;
  2. Carrying out independent research, including securing funding; and
  3. Working with other researchers to advance an integrated, interdisciplinary, applied research agenda related to SCI focal areas.

This position will be directly managed by SCI’s Executive Director and will also work closely with SCI’s Program Manager, Associate Directors, communications staff, and with graduate student fellows who can assist with some job responsibilities.

This position will involve:

  • Developing, funding, and conducting applied research to support sustainable city design, broadly defined, including the ability to support the position on an ongoing basis beyond the initial contract period;
  • Developing and managing SCI’s overall research program;
  • Helping to position SCI research as a national leader;
  • Cultivating relationships with an interdisciplinary set of potential researchers across the University of Oregon, with colleagues at other Oregon institutions, and with partners at institutions across the country as appropriate;
  • Supervising students, as necessary, to help carry out and disseminate research;
  • Outreach to policy makers; and
  • Development and dissemination of tools and resources to assist communities in translating research into actionable items.

Minimum and Preferred Qualifications

  • Terminal degree in a relevant field, such as planning, environmental studies, public policy, geography, political science, law, architecture, or other related field.
  • Minimum six years of professional or educational research experience, including track record of scholarly publication or influential policy report writing.
  • Track record of significant research funding, including as lead investigator and proposal writer, and clear ability to continue grant writing and fund raising to fund position after the first year.
  • Knowledge of and experience with a variety of qualitative and quantitative social science research methods and willingness and ability to learn new methods as need arises to conduct or supervise a wide variety of applied research projects.
  • Must be willing and able to travel regionally and nationally.
  • Must have excellent writing and communications skills, including ability to publish in academic and lay publications.
  • Demonstrated self-motivation.
  • Strong organizational skills.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects and maintain overall program mission.
  • Ability to work cooperatively in an entrepreneurial, action-oriented team environment.

Candidate must be able to work independently and in a team environment in leading the research effort for SCI.  As a quickly growing, start-up organization, all SCI team members must be able to lead in their own tasks while looking for ways to interact and contribute to the other functions of SCI.  SCI is aggressively collaborative, and the candidate must be interested in contributing to the whole while developing independent leadership of the research program.

This is a grant-contingent career non-tenure track faculty position.  The successful candidate will be a Senior Research Associate.  Initially, this position is funded at 0.8 FTE for the first year, with potential of expanding the FTE and longer-term extension depending on funding availability. It is our goal to offer 0.5 FTE guaranteed support in Year 2 and 0.3 FTE guaranteed support in Year 3, but this will be a year-to-year decision based on funding availability. Candidates bringing relevant funded grants with them are highly desirable.

It is our goal that this position retain a guaranteed base of 0.2 FTE each year to allow the successful candidate to strategically engage with the larger SCI organization, with the remainder FTE to come from grant funded sources, some of which will come from the candidate’s research agenda and some from successful research funding by other SCI researchers.

Level of Appointment: 0.8 FTE with ability and desire to expand to 1.0 FTE as funding allows.

Term of contract: One-year renewable contract; initial contract dates: 9/1/11 – 6/30/12

Compensation: Salary is commensurate with experience and will likely be in the range of $60,000 to $80,000 (1.0FTE equivalent) plus competitive benefits.

Location:The University of Oregon has over 16,000 undergraduate students and approximately 4,000 graduate students. Of these there are 2,706 U.S. students of color and 1,175 international students.  The university has an institutional commitment to diversity and multiculturalism, and actively supports this goal. The UO is known for its spirit of cooperation and collaboration, and for its ability to provide a variety of personal and professional opportunities that make a difference.  The University of Oregon is located in Eugene, Oregon, home to more than 145,000 people and Oregon’s third largest city.  Within only a few hours’ drive are the ocean beaches, lakes, rivers, national forests, high desert, and the Cascade and Coast mountain ranges. Mild winters, long growing seasons and few drastic weather changes are characteristic.

To Apply:Please send cover letter and curriculum vita/resume, writing sample, the names, affiliations, phone numbers, and email addresses of three references, and application cover page via email to: Christina Wozniak

Questions about the position and its responsibilities can be directed to Nico Larco (, Marc Schlossberg ( or Robert Liberty (
The University of Oregon is an equal opportunity, affirmative-action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

SCI operates several programs at this time, including:

* Sustainable City Year (SCY) program – this is a significant and ground-breaking service learning-based program that directs existing courses across disciplines to serve a single city during an entire academic year.  During the 2010-11 academic year, 25+ courses, 20 faculty, 10 disciplines, 500 students, and about 80,000 hours of effort have gone into working with the City of Salem.

* Applied Research – Many of SCI’s members are national experts on issues of livability and sustainable cities. SCI is interested in developing more integrated and truly collaborative research, including relationships that span campuses.  SCI intends to foster more of these ‘real’ collaborations through building on our core strengths in the topics of: Transportation Livability Metrics, Sustainable Suburbs, Active Transportation, and Urban Ecology / Ecological Design. An important component of SCI research is that it is applied and policy-relevant.

* Policy Advising – Issues of sustainable city design and livability address significant national priorities of climate change, obesity, and general quality of life. SCI has been involved in the policy arena in multiple ways and seeks to strengthen its role in helping guide policy at state and national levels.

* Experts-in-Residence (EIR) – This is an effort to bring national experts to Oregon for multi-day engagements with faculty, students, and the community on issues of critical importance. In 2009, Bill Wilkinson, one of the nation’s experts in bicycle and pedestrian policy came to Oregon, and in May 2010, Professor Jonathan Levine from the University of Michigan came to Oregon to talk about transportation, land use, and zoning. In 2011, SCI hosted Gabe Klein, former director of the Washington DC Department of Transportation and new director of Chicago’s DOT.

In addition, SCI is currently exploring developing a program of training and exchange with Chinese professionals, developing partnerships with European institutions, and connecting with public and nonprofit organizations across the United States doing applied work related to sustainable cities.

Current funding for SCI comes from a variety of sources, including external grant funding, fee for service contracts, institutional support, and an active philanthropic campaign.  The successful Research Director candidate is expected to develop and grow the research arm of SCI into a proactive, sustainable, and nationally recognized leader in multi-disciplinary, collaborative, applied, and policy-relevant research.