September 1-6, 2012. Naples, Italy

The Observatory on Latin America – The New School, spent a productive week at the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum 6, in Naples, Italy. Through the work of the Design and Development Program, The Observatory on Latin America’s ongoing urban research, and The New School’s variety of urban education programs, we engaged with actors and participants at this year’s World Urban Forum by helping to organize a large booth in the WUF Exhibition, spurring debate, addressing difficult questions, making cross-disciplinary connections, and sharing ideas on the pedagogy of urban education. As contributors to the Forum, our team of international faculty and institutional partners also took part in a variety of presentations and discussions across issues pertaining to urban development globally.

The cross-disciplinary Design and Development team comprised of faculty from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, the University of Buenos Aires and The New School who presented the ongoing work of the Design and Development program during a UN-Habitat Networking Event entitled Anticipating the Future of Bangkok, Buenos Aires, and New York. The discussion generated a debate with a large international audience on the issues of urban development pertaining to each city, the role of design, and the future of our research program.

OLA Director Margarita Gutman presented her new book, Buenos Aires. The Power of Anticipation: Iterant Images of the Metropolitan Future at WUF6 to a full room of media and academics from around the world. Michael Cohen also participated on a variety of panels hosted by UN-Habitat, including the plenary panel on Productive Cities – Competitive and Innovative Cities, and the book launch of Ciudades, la ecuacion imposible by edited by Jordi Borja, Marcelo Corti, and Mireia Belil.

Partners from the University of Buenos Aires, including Professor Ariel Misuraca, Secretary-General and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Urban Planning of the University of Buenos Aires (FADU-UBA), Professor Ariel Pradelli, Professor and Operational Secretary of FADU-UBA, Professor Juan Pablo Scaglia, and Adriana Clemente, Vice-Dean and Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences – UBA also gave engaging presentations on Slum Upgrading and Alternative Economies in Buenos Aires and Poverty and Social Policy in Argentina. Additionally, faculty from Chulalongkorn University presented on their ongoing work in Bangkok. INDA Director Preechaya Sittipunt and Professor Scott Drake both spoke to their community engagement and their approach to architecture education and design pedagogy in Thailand.

From The New School, William Morrish, Professor of Urban Ecologies, and Robert Buckley, Studley Fellow, presented their work on Urban Ecology/Urban Economy; and Jacquelin Kateneksza, a recent graduate from the Graduate Program in International Affairs, presented a paper on Urban Plans in Cape Town. Brian McGrath, Associate Professor/Research Chair in Urban Design, and Miodrag Mitrasinovic, Associate Professor, both at Parsons The New School for Design, also presented their ongoing collaborative research with Atlantis, a trans-Atlantic collaboration between North American and European research institutions on urban design and remediation.

The World Urban Forum attracted nearly 10,000 people from 152 countries. In his closing remarks, UN-Habitat Director Dr. Joan Clos stated that urbanization was going through hard times and that innovative ways needed be devised to address the issue. This international forum was an active breeding ground of innovative thought and action regarding the many urban questions that affect our collective urban future. By representing our urban research and academic programs, The New School was a recognizable actor in urban pedagogy by the end of the WUF6. And opportunities for collaboration and future academic exchanges globally were positive outcomes for The New School. WUF7 will take place in 2014 in Medellin, Colombia where The New School has existing academic and professional relationships. The OLA will continue to work with its international partners on the challenge of the global urban future.  

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