Our focus for the next year

The Challenges in Changing Cities theme has been running since 2020. Since then, we have organised a series of interdisciplinary sessions about urban futures and heritage, and the implications of COVID-19 for exacerbating inequalities, mobility, and planning. We’ve had speakers and participants from across the College of Social Sciences, including from Sociology, Politics, Education, Economics, and Interdisciplinary Studies – although we have synergies with urban studies, the IRT Challenges in Changing Cities engages a much broader network!  

In January 2022, we were joined by several new leadership team members, who have renewed and expanded our focus. Our new team now includes colleagues whose work focuses on social cohesion, science and technology management, local and participatory sustainable solutions in times of climate change and ecological crises, neighbourhood inequalities, living heritage, and connected technologies.  

Below are some of the questions that we are aiming to support via this theme.

If you are interested in any of these topics, we look forward to working with you. Please join our mailing list, keep an eye out for a May event exploring research ideas, or get in touch if you'd like support organisning a workshop linked to this theme.  

Topic: Heritage in changing places, including: 

  • Post-conflict: How do cities recover from wars in terms of rebuilding, stolen artefacts, displacement of people and their languages or culture? 
  • Role of heritage in climate change transitions: How are adaptations and sustainable solutions rooted in local places and cultures? 
  • Lived heritage and living heritage: heritage as a way of life and manner of work – people in the context of their environment; How to we attune plans for existing space to ideas of space prevailing in the community? 
  • Heritage and technology: How can technology answer sensitive questions of heritage – buildings, planning, and way of life -- when it comes to lighting, thermal comfort, waste disposal, planning for human traffic, recreational space, etc.? 
  • Heritage and disaster: How can cities build back better following a disaster e.g., a pandemic, or natural hazards? 
  • Heritage and migration: How does cultural heritage change when transferred from one place to another? 
  • Intangible heritage: How do we - and how should we - recognise the importance of intangible heritage for people and places, including languages, folklores, customs and practices? 


Topic: Resilient communities and places, including: 

  • Thriving places: How do we ensure climate change mitigation and adaptation measures benefit both people and nature at a local level? 
  • Exploring Edgelands: How can city-regions or bio-regions act as a unit of analysis beyond economics, and what are the implications of city-specific policies for the surrounding areas? 
  • Transformative adaptation and disaster risk reduction: How can we transform places to adapt to new extreme weather events, prepare for and build back better following a disaster? 
  • Adaptive infrastructures/systems: How can we ensure the adaptation of existing systems, infrastructure and governance (e.g., digital connectivity and social capital) in the face of natural or human induced hazards? 
  • Public management and service provisions: How can we build resilient, adaptive, inclusive and sustainable access to public health provisions, social care services, and education considering both urban and rural dichotomy? 
  • Working in partnership: How can we build on local resources and partnerships with civil society organisations, multi-stakeholder platforms, academia, and networks to build resilience and adapt to new and emerging challenges? 
  • Place-based co-creation: How can we co-produce and manage data, knowledge, information and expertise with local partners and stakeholders to solve place-based and community challenges.  

First published: 12 April 2022

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