Roundtables

DAY 2

Thursday 19 April 2018
St Antony’s College, Oxford
 

Themes for Comparison

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Roundtable 1a Health & Safety

The word “safety” might seem to have a shared meaning for most people (violence-free, non-criminogenic spaces). However, perceptions of fear, understandings of policing and civil assignments, and views of violence, crime and punishment may also vary greatly with urban context. How can we compare the standards, aspirations, and costs of “safety” across cities?  Are “safe cities” an engine for healthy cities? To what extent is the use of open spaces conditioned to perceptions of safety?

Panelists:

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Roundtable 1b: Shelter & Ownership

Affordable housing is universally recognized as a priority for cities. Do different cities require different approaches to shelter and ownership? For example, what are the limits of informal land privatization as a global shelter solution? Alternatively, what models can cities of the Global South offer to those of the North? How can shelter and ownership goals (volume of, forms of ownership, and tolerance for autoconstruction) be adjusted according to context?

Panelists:

Values for Futures

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Roundtable 2a: The Orderly City

It is common for citizens and city managers to defend new urban policies on the basis that they promote orderliness. How is order, as an urban value, used or misused as a policy imperative? What are reasonable limits or expectations for order in a city? How does the value of orderliness structure urban transformation? How might different city futures be planned to embrace different forms or degrees of order?

Panelists:

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Roundtable 2b: The Spontaneous City

When thinking of the social and environmental innovation that cities so frequently generate, the value of “spontaneous” urbanism is often celebrated. At the same time, when discussing informality, spontaneity is often framed pejoratively. What can be learned from the latter case, and what can be avoided in the former? How can goals and metrics promoting or inhibiting “spontaneous” city change be made relevant across contexts to structure urban transformation?

Panelists:

Themes for Comparison

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Roundtable 3a: Labour & Markets

Cities are often celebrated for their ability to generate employment and to catalyse or expand markets. In what way does focus on “labour” and “markets” structure metrics for comparing across cities, or for benchmarking change within a particular city? How do citizens and city managers frame the “good city” in terms of labour or market opportunities and what contextual subtleties may be lost in these comparisons?

Panelists:

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Roundtable 3b: Migration

A central thematic framing for cities is the degree to which they either propel or attract migration. How are discourses about the city as magnet for migration different across the world? How are these discourses dependent on economic productivity? How can different cities talk about their need or fear of migration in context-appropriate ways to structure urban transformation?

Panelists:

Values for Futures

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Roundtable 4a: The Intelligent City

With the growth of big data, smart cities, and the acceleration of feedback between urban data and urban change, “intelligence” is an increasingly deployed value for defining the merits of a city and its policy. How does this value vary across contexts? How can different cities structure context-appropriate and plural aspirations for benefiting from such powerful technologies? How can the science of urban complexity, resulting from so much data and rapid intervention, either flatten or be fine-tuned to differences across North and South? What effect might labour automation have on urban planning and spatial divisions?

Panelists:

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Roundtable 4b: The Self-Sufficient City

To what extent is the success of a city framed in terms of its dependence on or independence from the state? How are the values of self-sufficiency, self-governance, or self-legislation, a priority for various cities, or not? How can degrees of centralization/decentralization in a capital city be compared, or recommended across contexts? How does self-sufficiency relate to urban change and notions of the demos? 

Panelists:

DAY 3

Friday 20 April 2018
St Antony’s College, Oxford

Themes for Comparison

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Roundtable 5a: Environment & Technology

How are cities framed in terms of their ability to promote environmental or technological change? Or in their ability to attract environmental or technological catastrophe? What lessons can be learned from specific cities in order to better structure expectations for the nature and degree of environmental and technological change? What assumptions might be latent in smart/ecological/resilient city policy? 

Panelists:

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Roundtable 5b: Social Movements & Governance

Cities are often either celebrated or criticized for their ability to accommodate social movements, or for city governance’s ability/inability to adapt to social change. How do different cities frame their goals for governance relative to others? How can forms of governance, or the ability to accommodate and internalize change promoted by social movements, be effectively compared across different settings? Alternatively, how can assumptions of incommensurability between city governance serve to suppress social movements?

Panelists:

Values for Futures

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Roundtable 6a: The Sustainable City

Across the globe, cities are celebrated for their ability to be catalysts for sustainability, for many a key value for “the good city.” How can celebrations of sustainability (or criticism of lack of sustainability) from one setting to another ignore different forms of economic growth or social stability? How can sustainability be encouraged across settings while accommodating a diversity of platforms (i.e. technological, environmental, knowledge economy, manufacturing). To what extent are urban futures planned around sustainability as opposed to productivity, or vice versa?

Panelists:

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Roundtable 6b: The Imaginative City

From Georg Simmel to Marshall Berman and beyond, “city air” has been framed as liberating the imagination. The value of the “imaginative” city can be central to structuring social, political, moral, and material contours for brining city futures into reality. How is contemporary urbanism understood, governed, or depicted in terms of its ability to activate the political imagination?  How do cities represent varied sites of social and political possibility, or how might they not? As Arjun Appadurai asks, who is allowed to participate in the work of city imagination?

Panelists: