Academics unite to create more sustainable cities

Academics from some of the world’s top institutions will come together in August to brainstorm ideas to create more sustainable cities and communities.

Over a series of three virtual workshops, from 2-15 August, academics from Cornell University, UCL and Tata Institute of Social Sciences will join colleagues from the University of Sydney as well as industry representatives and non-government organisations, to discuss ideas to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

The University of Sydney-led workshops, which are free and open to anyone to attend, are themed around United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 and aim to facilitate discussions to improve environmental, technological and social equity.

Associate Professor Tooran Alizadeh and Dr Luke Hespanhol, both from the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, will lead the discussions on topics such as how climate change impacts cities and regions of the world differently, how technological opportunities and challenges are distributed across the world, and what could be done for those sidelined in urban planning and decision-making processes.

Associate Professor Tooran, an expert on urbanism and infrastructure planning, will also discuss her latest work on smart city development in India.

Other influential academic speakers include University of Sydney geographer Professor Bill Pritchard, from the Faculty of Science, who will discuss sustainable post-COVID scenarios for coastal Australia, Professor Ayona Datta, from UCL, Professor Abdul Shaban, from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Assistant Professor Linda Shi, from Cornell University.

Other speakers include lighting designer Ms Leela Shanker, who will cover supply chain activism and Ms Sheela Patel, from the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, India, who will share NGOs’ experience and insights .

The workshops are part of the University’s Global Research Seminar Series, which focus on bringing together academics to focus on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Previous events were themed around carbon neutrality, zero hunger and responses to climate change.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) Professor Kathy Belov said the workshops serve as a catalyst for collaborative research projects associated with the SDGs.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are a powerful and practical framework within which to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time.

“We hope through the Global Research Seminar Series that participants, particularly early career researchers and research students, can make connections, create networks, identify areas of compatibility and alignment, and develop joint projects addressing the SDGs.”

The University has also recently provided seed funding to 12 Sydney academics to embark on new research collaborations with international partners to create academic and societal impact which addresses the SDGs. The projects cover topics such as harnessing big data to create sustainable cities and fixing the gender bias of artificial intelligence.

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