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Lecture examines benefits of urban sprawl

January 25, 2007

Arizona State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute presents “Two Cheers for Sprawl: The future of metropolitan Phoenix,” starting at 1 p.m., Jan. 31, Sundial East Hall, Sun City. ASU’s Andrew Kirby, a professor in the department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, and associate dean in Barrett, The Honors College, will address the growth of the Valley and how its expansion has produced inaccurate negative criticism.

Kirby believes that the rapid growth of the Phoenix metropolitan area has had some positive effects.

“Phoenix is an interesting example of urban development in the 21st century, a social experiment based on corporate expectations rather than municipal standards,” said Kirby, who contends that this low density growth has actually provided for affordable housing for its residents. “Other urban housing markets such as those in California and New York are unapproachable. How will Americans live if they cannot afford to live or pay their mortgage?”

In this lecture, Kirby wants to dispel the myth that people in rapidly growing cities like Phoenix are unconnected and uninvolved.

“Our surveys with Valley residents indicate that individuals assimilate rapidly and have a sense of community responsibility and interrelatedness,” Kirby said. “Neighborliness is at a good level. There is much to be optimistic about.”

For the past decade, Kirby has served as editor of international journal Cities. He has written more than 200 academic papers, chapters, reports, reviews and books, and is currently working on several research projects that examine different aspects of life in the Valley.

This lecture series is one of more than 85 classes and lectures being offered in the Sun City communities this Spring. For registration and class information, call the local ASU Lifelong Learning Academy office at Sun City (602) 377-8390 or visit online at:

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Arizona State University provides stimulating, university-quality learning experiences for older adults with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and interests who are interested in learning for the joy of learning. Noncredit short courses, lectures, travel opportunities, and workshops taught by ASU faculty, emeritus faculty and talented community volunteers are offered at ASU campuses and community sites throughout the Phoenix metro area.