• Thursday 20 Oct 2016
  • Urban learning alliances: civic engagement through city and university partnerships

    Networking Events
    Venue: R2
    Lead Organization:
    • Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre Institute Of Geography And Development Studies Njala University.
    Partner Organizations:
    • The Bartlett Development Planning Unit,
    • University College London; Universidade Federal Do ABC; Urban Resource Center,
    • Karachi; African Centre For Cities,
    • University Of Cape Town; Faculty Of Social Science,
    • University Of Sheffield; Habitat International Coalition; Freetown City Council,
    • Sierra Leone; Young Men Christian Association (Sierra Leone); Centre For Dialogue On Human Settlement And Poverty Alleviation (Sierra Leone).

    Recent action learning and research trends within the discipline of urban planning and design have been questioning the ways within which universities engage with knowledge production and learning processes, calling for more embedded, collaborative and action oriented practices. In different contexts, ‘urban learning alliances’ (implemented through ‘urban observatories’, ‘urban rooms’, ‘labs’ or ‘urban hubs’) are increasing the recognition of the different roles that partnerships between universities with urban actors (such as civil society, state and private sector actors) can play to address complex and multifaceted urban challenges. This session is particularly interested in reflecting the role associated to strengthening ‘civic engagement’, focusing on the ways within which urban learning alliances can support disfranchised and marginalised groups in influencing urban decision-making processes. In this session, we hope to reflect on how can urban learning alliances support the production of more democratic cities and discuss about some of the challenges and opportunities in establishing and managing theses alliances. The session will hope to address the following key issues: 1) the nature and practice of partnerships with civil society organisations and private sector actors; 2) the types of relationship with governmental stakeholders, from municipal authorities to national ministries and how to develop collaborative as well as critical relationships; and 3) formats of international alliances and collaborations, particularly exploring models for 'partnership with equivalence'. As an output of the session, we hope to generate recommendations towards the development of an Urban Learning Alliance Charter, which hopes to instigate a debate on a set of principles to guide the development of partnerships between universities and urban actors focusing on action learning and research. This networking session hopes to bring together actors involved in urban learning alliances focused on civic engagement to facilitate knowledge sharing and learn from each other’s experiences.