A renewed national commitment is required if we are to solve the challenges facing America’s cities. Equally important are the well-prepared and motivated leaders needed to address these difficulties. CURP has been established at a time of profound economic, political, and social change. The civic discourse has become increasingly anti-urban with fewer opportunities for informed non-partisan dialogue. Political leaders and ordinary citizens need reliable policy research, training in technology, and opportunities for public discussion on issues of concern to America’s cities. As an internationally known research university located in New York City, Columbia has a special responsibility to make a substantial contribution to these efforts. CURP promises to fulfill this responsibility by becoming a national resource for education, research, and discussion on issues confronting America’s cities. The Center is engaged in an ambitious program of training, research, and public discussion.

The need for the Center is increasingly apparent in the visible problems and repeated fiscal crises of our cities. Opportunities are evident in the renewed interest in domestic public policy and by an increased willingness by various sectors of society to “do something.” However, greater voice and focus and better dialogue and data are required to create a capacity for more informed discussions which will help influence the larger national agenda in effective policy-making. With the support of the entire Columbia community, the Center and its programs draw attention to issues confronting urban America and prepare the nation’s leaders for the challenge of solving these problems.