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UCL events news and reviews


Prosperity in a rapidly urbanising world: where do we go from here?

By ucyow3c, on 22 January 2015


Written by Hannah Sender, Research Assistant, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Brasilia, Brazil

Credit: Scott Wallace, World Bank.

Is urbanisation even an issue?

It is a widely-known and oft-cited fact that, as of 2007, more than 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas. The factors for this rapid change are hugely debated: are we realising a teleological Modernist project, or do we make decisions regarding where we live based purely on income? It is the case, however, that most of us experience the consequences of this development every day.

In recognition of these problems, the urban ecology is now foremost in academia’s agenda: one of the four UCL Grand Challenges is ‘Sustainable Cities’. The recently launched UCL Institute for Global Prosperity has taken the issue of urbanisation as a primary focus for some of its nascent projects.

As part of the Institute for Global Prosperity’s Soundbites series – a series of short lectures and conversations held at lunchtimes on questions around wellbeing and prosperity – Professor Julio D. Dávila, Director of the UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit, gave a public talk last Thursday on the possibility for prosperity in rapidly urbanising contexts.


Noreena Hertz: The Complexity of Decision-Making

By ucyow3c, on 29 January 2014

Noreena Hertz

Noreena Hertz

pencil-iconWritten by Nicholas Tyndale, Communications Director, Office of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research)

In her inaugural lecture, The Complexity of Decision-Making, UCL Honorary Professor Noreena Hertz discussed how to improve decision-making, manage information excess, assess the credibility of information and make the best use of advice.

Professor Hertz shared six insights from her latest book, Eyes Wide Open: How to make smart decisions in a confusing world, which draws on academic research and extensive interviews with “the smartest decision-makers”:

1. We need to take experts off their pedestals. We cede our decision-making power to experts too easily and uncritically, yet experts get a lot of decisions, judgements and predictions wrong. We need to understand our own cognitive biases (as should experts understand their own).

2. We need to become better information gatherers. There is valuable lay expertise and local knowledge that is too often untapped. Employees tend to make better predictions about their organisation than those in  management. Sources such as Google Trends and crowd-sourcing can provide a “truer narrative” – for example, about housing markets or pandemics – than official sources. Yet we should treat new sources of information with discretion.


Community members are not only intervention recipients; they are powerful tools for change

By news editor, on 10 June 2013

pencil-iconWritten by Lorna Benton, PhD candidate at the UCL Institute for Global Health.

A recent Lancet meta-analysis (http://bit.ly/10Jz9Gc) demonstrated the success of women’s group interventions in significantly reducing maternal and new-born mortality rates.

Mothers and newborn babies in Africa

Following on from this, the Institute for Global Health and the Grand Challenge for Global Health hosted a joint symposium with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, entitled ‘Community based new-born and maternal care’, to ask how such community based women’s groups could be used to deliver life-saving information and support globally.


UCL rises to meet the Grand Challenges

By news editor, on 6 February 2013

gc1pencil-iconWritten by Dr James Paskins, Coordinator for UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities,  and Helen Hopkins, Coordinator for UCL Grand Challenge of Global Health.

On 29 January, the South Cloisters was filled, but not with students desperately trying to find a quiet place to work. The space had instead been commandeered by the UCL Grand Challenges to show off work from its small grants programme.

The cloisters echoed to the conversations of more than 100 grant winners, staff, students and donors. They had come to see the exhibition of 40 posters illustrating the achievements of the previous Small Grants winners, and to hear presentations from previous Grand Challenge winners.

The small grants programme began in 2009 with the first grand challenge, Global Health, and is now offered by all four Grand Challenges: Sustainable cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.