International workshop reveals shared urban challenges

International workshop reveals shared urban challenges

That was the conclusion of a workshop on ‘Urban Dialogues’ held in Brazil earlier this month, organised by Dr Sarah Ayres from the University of Bristol and Professor Clélio Campolina Diniz of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. It attracted 24 early career scholars from the UK and Brazil.

Dr Ayres said: “The UK and Brazil are characterised by very different political, economic and social traditions. Nonetheless, there are a series of themes that resonate in both countries. There was much to learn from a shared dialogue and reflecting comparatively on urban experiences and perspectives.

“One of the major impacts of the global economic crisis is the way it has deepened inequalities, at a time when the state’s capacity for public intervention to tackle inequality has diminished. These developments raise questions about what forms of governance step in when the state withdraws, and how urban policy can be developed to reflect the interests of all. The event reflected on the usefulness of previous urban development approaches and explored the potential for inclusive and creative responses.”

The workshop was held over four days at the Centre for Regional Development and Planning at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. It also involved contributions from other world leading researchers, including Professors Roberto Luís de Melo Monte-Mór and Heloísa Soares de Moura Costa (Federal University Minas Gerais, Brazil), Dr John Harrison (Loughborough University, UK) and Dr Stephen Hincks (University of Manchester, UK).

Early career scholars presented their research to others in the group. There were sessions on crafting an academic identity, constructing and defending big ideas, international funding opportunities, developing international research collaborations and ensuring social and economic impact through urban research. A number of themes were identified at the workshop as future avenues for international research collaboration, including:

• Using big data

• Citizenship and democracy

• Trust and community resilience

• The urban environment

• Spatial equity and territorial justice

• The methodological challenges of comparative urban research

• Transforming public services

• Managing change in times of crisis

• The tensions between equality and growth

The event was funded by the Newton Fund Researcher Links via the British Council , UK and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) , Brazil.