World Bank Expert Joins GW’s Urban Sustainability Faculty

Anthony Bigio will teach two “green” courses in the College of Professional Studies.

Anthony Bigio
Urban planning expert Anthony Bigio will join the faculty in the Sustainable Urban Planning Program
June 02, 2013

After nearly two decades at the World Bank, Anthony Bigio, a leading expert on global urbanization, will join the College of Professional Studies’ Sustainable Urban Planning Program.

Mr. Bigio is the World Bank’s senior urban specialist in the Urbanization and Resilience Management Unit of the Sustainable Development Network and a lead author on the team of experts assembling the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

He will begin teaching in January 2014.

“My focus is on cities–the impact of climate change and what cities can do to reduce urban emissions,” Mr. Bigio said. “Those two issues will be the basis of my collaboration in the urban sustainability program.”

Currently, Mr. Bigio and the Director of the Sustainable Urban Planning Program John Carruthers are developing coursework centered on urban design in a warming world or producing low carbon cities. The course will specifically focus on the impact of increased urbanization and an interdisciplinary approach to reducing emissions in planning.

They are also outlining a brand new course on urban resilience focused on the intersection between adapting to climate change and preparing for disaster management.

According to Dr. Carruthers, there has been an increased demand for urban resilience discourse in the program in light of financial strain, growing fatalities and future repercussions of global weather disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, that have been linked to climate change.

“I was looking to Tony to bring in an expertise in urban design, climate change adaptation and resilience, coupled with an international perspective,” Dr. Carruthers said.

Mr. Bigio will join seven other faculty members who teach a range of topics, including sustainable transportation, agricultural economics, urban design, urban economic policy, infrastructure planning and renewable energy to form a comprehensive program in urban sustainability.

According to Mr. Bigio, all of these areas of study play a key role in informing the conversation on urban planning.

“I’ve gone into areas of study that I never thought I would, such as environment, climate change, poverty reduction, housing policy, decentralization, fiscal transfer from central to local government, economics and social development,” he said. “You have to understand what is happening in cities beyond the planning office.”

Mr. Bigio graduated from the University of Rome in 1975 with an M.S. in architecture and urban planning and also completed post-graduate work at the University of Venice focusing on planning in developing countries.

He has over 20 years of field experience working in more than 25 countries, which, according to Dr. Carruthers adds a welcome global perspective to the program.

“The international focus that Tony brings is really exciting,” Dr. Carruthers said. “About one-third to half of the students are interested in working outside of the United States for organizations such as the World Bank and USAID.”

“Although we’re not an international development program, urbanization is a planetary phenomenon, so thinking globally about these issues is very important,” he added.

Mr. Bigio hopes to also work in “listening mode” with students to discover new ways of examining the complexities of urban planning.

“What I’ve discovered over the years is that it’s necessary to keep questioning yourself, to keep pushing the limits and to engage in other areas because a discipline like urban planning is so comprehensive and integrative,” Mr. Bigio said.

According to the 2010 Census Bureau report, 80.7 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. The Sustainable Urban Planning Program, established in 2012 equips GW students with the tools to become conscientious urban planners.

The Sustainable Urban Planning Program offers a graduate certificate in urban sustainability in addition to an M.P.S. in sustainable urban planning, which requires successful completion of the urban sustainability certificate, four core courses and either a graduate certificate in sustainable landscapes or climate change management & policy.