Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have agreed to work together in promoting research and education in sustainable city development. Both institutions had signed an MoA in June last year will the main objective of furthering research and education related to sustainable city development in Malaysia. Under this five year program UTM and MIT will select ten Visiting Scholars each year from Universities in G-77 developing countries. The scholars will be spending half a year at UTM studying topics related to sustainable city development, in Kuala Lumpur / Putrajaya, Johor Bahru, and Georgetown, with the assistance of partnering institutions and regional development authorities.
The research works of these scholars will be transformed at MIT into digital base teaching materials. They also will produce scholarly papers for publication in peer- reviewed journals, made available to global audience. A global network of urban and environmental planning faculty will emerge at universities from around the developing world. The findings will be presented to the relevant development agencies, city authorities, professional planners and citizen activists in these cities for review and feedback.
Malaysia, as the study setting, is committed to sustainable development. It is important to assess its achievement, whether this commitment has produce measurable result at the city scale over the past decades. UTM shall benefit as the first university to initiate sustainable city program, and this effort is another part of UTM continued commitment to support the nationwide sustainable development initiative.
For the start, a team of post graduate researchers and staff of MIT, and with the assistance of faculties at UTM will conduct a two week field based practicum in the selected cities. This practicum will enable the documentation of available data and information, existing sustainable efforts, and strategies in respect to these cities and regions, through visits, briefings and face-to-face consultations. The exercise will also provide greater understanding of Malaysia, its culture, economic, physical development, law, politics, and governance.
The preliminary findings provide the base for further detailed researches by the scholars through the formulation of hypotheses, identification of specific issues and particular objectives about sustainable development of each city or region. In the long term this program contributes to new knowledge to the theory and practice of sustainable development in the developing world.
Collaboration between the MIT and UTM is timely as both institutions acknowledge the importance of making the necessary efforts towards achieving sustainable city environment and quality of life. Professor Lawrence E Susskind leads the MIT-UTM fellowship program, while Professor Dr. Mohd Hamdan Ahmad heads the UTM secretariat at Institute Sultan Iskandar (ISI), UTM.