IT IS NOT so often that a major university like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovers a new kind of science. But in the fall, the university will launch a novel sort of program, an undergraduate major called Urban Science that combines data analytics training with the sort of informed policy knowhow offered in typical Urban Studies programs.
Yes, it will be a science, with hypotheses that can be measured by data and evaluated with software engineering tools by smartypants computer scientists. But the new program will also attempt to honor the actual fleshy people with hopes, fears, and questions about how the places where they make their homes might adapt to the future…
Urban science is a budding discipline that has exploded over the past half-decade, and multidisciplinary programs have cropped up at mostly private institutions like New York University, Northeastern University, the University of Southern California, and Carnegie Mellon.