On the 19th and 20th of February, the British Academy (BA) invited the 16 projects funded under their Global Challenges Cities and Infrastructure call to attend a two day event in London. SUEUAA was represented by Professor Mike Osborne, Dr Muir Houston, Dr Jo Neary, and Dr Neil Burnside. The first day was an opportunity for networking and for each of the funded projects to outline their aims, objectives, and methodologies by way of a short 10 minute presentation.
While all 16 projects were focused on the Global South, there was a wide variation both in the geographic scope of the studies. For example, some studies focused on one case-study city, or two case study cities within the same country, while others had a wider scope. This was often dependent on the type of study that was being carried out.
Each study focused on issues facing the cities of the Global South. Some studies focused on improving an element of physical infrastructure, for instance, creation of sustainable transportation links, improving access to food resources, or improving energy innovation for low-cost housing. Others focused on improving city resilience after natural disasters, such as flooding, or extreme weather events. Others explored issues affecting particular populations, for example refugees accessing healthcare or creating safer cities for women at risk of violence.
Each project had a strong focus on interdisciplinary collaborations, that is, they involved multiple areas of study including engineers, geographers, archaeologists, sociologists, and educationalists. Rather than working on individual aspects of the study, each study highlighted the cooperation between each discipline to address the issues of their study’s city.
SUEUAA was one of the projects with the largest number of cities, six in total (located in Iraq, Iran, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe). Unlike a number of the other studies, we do not focus on one issue. Instead, we are interested in how the Universities within the city respond to local issues and explore how capacity-building can be utilised to ensure a sustainable city.