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Re-orientating the Euro-centric bias in planning and urban studies

ucyow3c30 November 2017

Written by Audrey Robeson, MSc Urban Studies student, UCL Geography

With a room full to bursting, the launch of Urban Geopolitics: Rethinking Planning in Contested Cities, edited by Jonathan Rokem (UCL Geography) and Camillo Boano (The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL / Urban Lab), was clearly highly relevant to those studying, thinking, and researching contemporary urban studies. People lined up against the back wall, willing to put up with the lack of seating for a chance to hear some of the contributors give a brief presentation of their chapters. Afterwards, three guests were invited to give responses and their comments on the book.

Geopolitics-event-image

Image credit: Evelyn Teh

 

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Thinking beyond sectors for sustainable development: How to make sustainable development happen

ucyow3c8 July 2015

pencil-icon Written by Lucien Georgeson (UCL Geography)

We have to break out of the silos; it’s clear that the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend on effective cross-sectoral governance and institutions. That is the powerful conclusion of a new book, Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development, launched on Wednesday by UCL Grand Challenges and the London International Development Centre (LIDC).

Thinking Beyond Sectors examines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and analyses the complex interactions between them. The main concept (see diagram below) is that the goals exist at three levels: ‘Well-being’, ‘Infrastructure’ and ‘Environment’, and we must understand the complex interactions between and within all levels. Now that the SDGs and their targets are more or less decided, the big issue for the coming year is the challenge of designing institutions and governance structures to actually implement the SDGs.

The ‘Levels’ of the Thinking Beyond Sectors approach

The ‘Levels’ of the Thinking Beyond Sectors approach

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Buddhas of Suburbia: faith, migration and suburban change in London

zclfg5811 March 2014

If there’s one thing to take home from American film culture, from The Virgin Suicides to American Beauty, it’s that the suburbs are a place to be avoided at all costs. Replete with murderous instincts and repressed sexual desires, they are to be treated with scorn by urbanites and the few suburban refugees who manage to escape.

Hindu goddess in gold at the Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple

Hindu goddess

Perhaps this unfair reputation stems from the suburban aesthetic: when the soul is furnished by identikit architecture that presumably houses conservative cultural habits, it is unsurprising that we see the suburban subject as living a boring life, unworthy of academic reflection or investigation.

In her Lunch Hour Lecture, Dr. Claire Dwyer (UCL Geography) rescued suburbia from this prejudicial inertia, demonstrating through an architectural, geographical and cultural comparative analysis of faith loci in Greater London that the suburbs can be a place of dynamic modernity where space is contested, deconstructed and re-mapped.

The first half of Dr. Dwyer’s lecture focused on newly developed or proposed institutions such as the Jain Temple in Potter’s Bar, Hertfordshire and the Salaam Centre in Harrow, which show how the suburbs are on the forefront of cultural innovation. (more…)

Back to the future: climate change lessons from the Pliocene era

zclfg5817 February 2014

Of the many clichés passed from generation to generation, “You must understand your past in order to understand your future” is both the most intuitively correct and consistently ignored.

Too often the historian’s excavation of the past is considered to be of merely academic interest rather than a stark warning about the social, political and economic conditions that can re-enable historic calamities.

Dr Chris Brierly (UCL Geography), who delivered the Lunch Hour Lecture on 13 February, is pursuing historical research to help us comprehend our past and possibly safeguard our future from devastation.

V0023203 An ideal landscape of the Pliocene period with elephants, hiInstead of looking back 100 years at Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, Brierly looks back 5 million years, when the world was curiously similar yet significantly different to the one we inhabit today.

Brierly explained how his research concentrates on mapping the tropical climate of the Pliocene epoch, which began around 5 million years ago and ended 2.6 million years ago.

Just like the present, the Pliocene world was both warm and cool: grassland expanded and ice-caps accumulated. It did, however, have a structurally different tropical sea climate.

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