NEURUS is an international consortium of universities dedicated to the collaborative study of urban and regional development issues. The origin of the acronym NEURUS derives from the consortium's original title when first established in 1998: the Network for European and U.S. Regional and Urban Studies consisted of six universities, three in Europe and three in the United States. Today, the thirteen university NEURUS consortium is continuing to explore partnerships with universities and colleagues elsewhere in North America, Asia, and Latin America. It is no longer a network comprised only of institutions in Europe and the United States.
NEURUS is based on a concept of research and education befitting an age of growing territorial integration and heightened global interchange. Through the use of Internet technologies, faculty and student exchange, distance learning, periodic transcontinental seminars, and traditional forms of research collaboration, NEURUS aims to make the resources and expertise of multiple universities available to researchers and students at any of the partner institutions. Participation in NEURUS invites access to an expanding international cadre of urban and regional scholars, top ranked research universities, and collaborating public and private agencies.
A centerpiece of the consortium is the NEURUS Fellows program, a framework of agreements and supportive environments designed to give scholars and students flexible opportunities to enhance their study of urban and regional issues from comparative perspectives. Through distance learning courses, NEURUS also encourages the participation of students and scholars from other universities, wherever they are located. Students undertaking exchange among seven of the program partners (RuG, UCI, Illinois, Florida, ASU, Humboldt and WU) may earn an International Certificate in Urban and Regional Development (ICURD). ICURD is a new program initiated in 2009/10 with support from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education and the European Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture.
Issues and topics pursued by NEURUS scholars, though wide ranging, share a common theme: a focus on forces and trends affecting cities and regions in an increasingly global economy. Areas of faculty expertise include economic development, sustainable development, innovation, science policy, infrastructure, land use and management, environmental regulation and control, community development, housing, geographic information systems, and economic impact methods and modeling. NEURUS attracts scholars and students in a variety of disiplines including--but not limited to--business admininstration, public policy, city planning, geography, sociology, economics, and political science.
NEURUS was established in 1998, when faculty from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, the Humboldt University-Berlin, the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of California at Irvine joined together to develop a new model for internationalizing research and education in the broad field of urban and regional development. Labeled the Network for European-United States Regional and Urban Studies (NEURUS) and funded initially by the U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), and the European Commission, Directorate General XXII (Education, Training, and Youth), the effort sought to build a sustainable set of linkages between the consortium partners that could be used to more deeply integrate comparative elements in existing education and research activities.
Ten years after original funding ended, alumni number over 120 students. NEURUS is now essentially "self-funded," in that it has received no extramural continuing financial support from the U.S. Department of Education or European Commission since 2002. Research, exchange and seminar activities are supported by home university units, external research grants supporting specific scholar and student exchanges, national and university sources of travel and exchange support, and the like.
The following are some of the key milestones in the history of NEURUS:
- Spring 1998: Faculty at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill initiate a proposal for funding to the U.S. Department of Education and European Commission. Invitations to join the consortium are issued to UC Irvine, Illinois, Groningen, and Humboldt University Berlin.
- August 1998: NEURUS consortium receives notice of funding award.
- November 1998: Founding consortium members meet in Richmond, Virginia for their first program design meeting. Second and third planning meetings are held in Chapel Hill in January 1999 and in Groningen in May 1999.
- Spring 1999: Consortium partners begin accepting applications for the first academic year of student exchanges.
- August 1999: Students in first NEURUS European student exchange cohort arrive at their host universities in the United States.
- October 1999: First U.S. continental seminar is held in conjunction with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference in Chicago, Illinois. NEURUS faculty participate in roundtable conference session, "Sustaining and Expanding NEURUS: International Collaborations and Student Exchanges in Planning."
- January 2000: Students in first NEURUS U.S. student exchange cohort arrive at their host universities in Europe.
- March 2000: First European continental seminar is held in Vienna.
- October 2002: U.S. Department of Education and European Commission funding is exhausted. NEURUS reorganizes to become "self-funded."
- May 2004: First Fulbright-NEURUS Summer Institute is held in Chapel Hill.
- July 2005: Second Fulbright-NEURUS Summer Institute is held in Vienna.
- March 2006: The University of Barcelona, Jönköping International Business School, and the University of Pécs join the consortium. Original student exchange program is renamed the NEURUS Exchange Fellows program. The NEURUS Independent Fellows program, which facilitates highly flexible exchange of advanced doctoral students and scholars, is established.
- Summer 2006: Article evaluating the NEURUS program is published (An Experiment in the Internationalization of Planning Education: The NEURUS Program, by Harvey Goldstein, Scott Bollens, Edward Feser and Christopher Silver, Journal of Planning Education and Research 25: 349-363).
- February 2007: NEURUS extends to Asia! Korea University (Seoul, South Korea) becomes the first university outside of Europe and North America to join the consortium.
- October 2008: Arizona State University and the University of Florida join the NEURUS consortium.
- March 2009: NEURUS celebrates its tenth year of student exchange and faculty collaboration at the Spring Continental Seminar held in Vienna.
- July 2009: NEURUS partners ASU, Florida, Humboldt, Illinois, RuG, UC Irvine, and WU win EU-US Atlantis funding to establish an International Certificate in Urban and Regional Development (ICURD) program.