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Interdisciplinary Research Theme

The challenges of urbanisation

Cities are engines of value creation, innovation, and creativity, but urbanisation also presents significant challenges.  These include the lack of affordable/accessible housing, uneven urban development, mobility constraints, rapid scaling of service provision and infrastructure, public health risks associated with urban living, public order, community cohesion and inclusiveness, uneven urban development, and environmental footprint. However, cities are also critical in addressing broader challenges such as the climate emergency, sustainable development, and ageing. None of these challenges can be addressed without a multi-disciplinary approach that inspires critical thinking, innovation, inclusivity, and collaboration.

A human-centred approach 

Urban Futures will work to improve quality of life and sustainability in urban areas, taking a human-centred approach – summarised as “People, Place, and Planet”. 

Thematic communities

To facilitate and nurture interdisciplinary dialogues, Urban Futures is structured around several challenge-based thematic communities:

  • Safety and security
  • Democracy and governance
  • Resilience and sustainability
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Mobility and transport

Cross-cutting themes

These thematic communities are underpinned by four “horizontal” cross-cutting themes which lie at the heart of our overall approach:

  • Digital, data, and technologies
  • Policy making
  • Design
  • Co-production

An interdisciplinary response

This structure recognizes specific thematic communities of interest, whilst acknowledging the general applicability and transferability of approaches across different themes. Importantly, our solutions to problems in these domains will be situated at the interfaces and spaces between the various disciplines represented in each theme, allowing us to interpret issues through different lenses (spatial, social, political, technological, economic, legal, ethical, etc.) Fundamentally, we will place people and communities at the heart of our holistic/impact-centred approach that allows us to combine the strengths of many different disciplines.

About us

Urban Futures draws on world-leading research and practice across a wide range of disciplines and specialisms, across all University Faculties, and has a well-established network of external partnerships with local authorities, government bodies, businesses, health agencies, police authorities, professional bodies, research centres, charities, and think-tanks. By emphasising a range of impact types (policy, scientific, technological, cultural, economic, social, intellectual, etc), grassroots co-production, technological innovation, and a range of critical and interpretive perspectives and methodologies, we will ensure that Urban Futures is inclusive, distinctive and robust.

Join the Urban Futures IDRT mailing list

To join our mailing list, please email - get the latest news, updates and event invites from the Urban Futures IDRT community of practice. 

Follow us on LinkedIn

Follow us on LinkedIn at Northumbria Urban Futures.

Theme Leads

Prof Martyn Amos

Dr Özge Dilaver

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