July 10th, 2018 | The New School · New York
On Monday April 9, 2018, the Observatory on Latin America at the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs (SGPIA), The New School, organized a conversation with David Simon, Professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and the Director of Mistra Urban Futures (MUF). The talk took place in the Klein conference room before students, professors, and New York city professionals. The talk was introduced and moderated by Michael Cohen, SGPIA professor of International Affairs, and Director of the OLA.
The presentation surveyed the lessons learned and challenges faced by respective research networks of MUF in Sweden, the UK, South Africa, and Kenya that are engaged in different forms of urban transdisciplinary (TD) co-production (CP). Simon explained MUF’s bottom-up TD approach that involves partnering with academics, non-academic researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, and ideally civil society. MUF aims to have accessible, green, and fair cities by drawing attention to central, and often contested, dimensions of urban sustainability and its management. Simon explained the need for co-design and CP, identifying that one of the many key challenges involved is overcoming short-termism and self-interest by individuals, households, firms, city governments, regional governments, and national institutions.
MUF’s approach goes beyond conventional participation to engage key partners throughout its research process. Simon noted that the importance of the local is key, meaning that there is no single recipe for success. Lastly, he discussed examples of possible comparative TD CP models, such as comparative PHD studentships between Gothenburg and Kisumu, and how these are currently working for MUF. After the talk, many audience members posed questions, which allowed Simon to present examples that expanded on MUF’s partnerships and how their platforms provide safe spaces for thinking, debating, researching, and moving beyond respective institutional constraints.