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UCL Festival of Culture: Urban Well-being

utnvlru31 May 2016

urban-wellbeingAs part of the UCL Festival of Culture, Dr Gustav Milne – Honorary senior lecturer in the UCL Institute of Archaeology –  gave a talk on Tuesday 24th May, entitled ‘Urban well-being: How to live paleolithically-correct lives in a 21st Century City’.

The idea that we as humans are not necessarily designed for the urban environments that many of us now dwell in is not necessarily a new one, but the extent to which this affects our health and life expectancy is more strikingly marked than might be expected.

Gustav began by outlining how our biology evolved thousands of years ago to support the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and explained that while the environments we live in have changed, our basic physiology hasn’t. We were told that our biological legacy dates back 6 million years – our physiology and lung system have not really developed since then.

Gustav mentioned the Grand Challenges project that UCL Archaeology has partnered in with Transport for London and Arsenal football club, along with several other organisations, which examined the health profiles of different social groups and populations within Greater London.

The research carried out for this project discovered a noticeable difference in life-expectancy between residents in boroughs with large areas of green space, from those who live which are densely built-up and populated. Contrary to what we often hear, the figures obtained during this research indicate that it’s not about social class or income but where you live.

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

ucyow3c22 January 2015

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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.

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