‘Dubai: Between Smartness and Identity’ by Jameel Karaki, MSc student

(c) Paolo Margarl via Flickr

(c) Paolo Margarl via Flickr

From a small undeveloped region on the shores of the Arabian Gulf in 1950, Dubai became a fast-growing modern city, a popular destination for tourism and a major economic centre. After years of implementing development plans and policies, Dubai aims to become a ‘Smart City’ ahead of hosting of the 2020 World Expo.

Consequently in April 2013, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) announced the transfer Continue reading

‘Experiences of urban energy in an African city’ by Dr Idalina Baptista, Short Courses Director

(c) bittegitteAwareness of climate change has raised a collective sense of urgency in recent years about the need to transform energy consumption patterns in order to reduce oil dependency. For some commentators, urban livelihoods in advanced economies of the global ‘North’ will probably have to adopt strategies that Continue reading

‘Boris’s New Cycle Super Highways’ by Dr Matthew Hardy, MSc lecturer


(c) Krysten Newby

The proposal by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, for North-South and East-West protected cycle tracks has drawn attention to cycle danger reduction in the UK, an area in which the country lags behind best practice. Cycling in London has doubled in the last 10 years, but research by Transport for London (TfL) suggests that this is merely existing cyclists making more trips. The same report identifies the Continue reading

‘Critical Thinking Beyond the Bubble and Bonfires’ by Dr David Howard

Beyond.the.BubbleThe new cohort for our MSc Sustainable Urban Development have completed their first  teaching week on ‘Concepts of the City and the Environment’, and are just revving up to submit their initial class paper. Research proposals for the current second-year are being reviewed by supervisors, and the dissertations of the outgoing cohort, ranging from analyses of public space in the Bronx to affordable cooking stoves in Port-au-Prince, are currently being assessed by the Examiners. It’s all go!

More welcome advances in this fifth year of ‘SUD’ at Oxford are the launch of the DPhil programme; the creation of a short course on Financing Sustainability; equal numbers of women and men balancing out the MSc arrivals and the launch of a new annual public lecture in London.

This year for the inaugural lecture, hosted at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, we’re delighted to invite Alex Hilton, Director of Generation Rent, to deliver his talk on ‘Beyond the Bubble’. Alex and his colleagues have been active in voicing and campaigning for affordable housing, and it will be a pleasure to hear his views. Alex will outline his concerns about how Britain’s economy is being damaged by a housing market that is out of control. He will draw the connections between Continue reading

‘News from Nowhere? Sustainable urban development, resilience and utopia’ by Drs Idalina Baptista, David Howard and Johanna Waters


Snakeshead printed cotton designed by William Morris (1876) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Morris’s fantasy utopian novel, News from Nowhere, set at the turn of the 22nd century, has been heralded as a ‘manual’ for sustainable living, community building and societal progress. Irrespective of locality or region, Morris sets out the development goals for a socialist society in a revolutionary millennium that places the individual as central to the collective good. The significance and influence of News from Nowhere (1891) is thus not bounded by the Thames Valley in which his socialist vision evolves, but reflects more substantively on globalisation and urban development.

The text forms the starting point for a forthcoming panel at the Continue reading

‘Questioning forms of governance in Kingston, Jamaica’ by Dr David Howard MSc course director and lecturer

Kingston - Jamaica (c)  Nicolas OrenStereotypes of Caribbean societies tend to focus more towards beach and weather matters, and cultural skills in the recording studio or on sports fields. Caribbean societies, however, are among the most urbanised, and arguably violent, places on earth. United Nations and World Bank reports over the last five years have systematically revealed urban violence to be the major Continue reading

‘Climate Summit 2014: gateway to a climate change deal?’ by Samer Frangieh, MSc student

Frangieh Image

Picture taken during negotiations in COP19 climate conference in Warsaw – November 2013, © Frangieh

Climate change has gained a lot of political attention over the past few years, but with very little progress to celebrate. Even though the science-based evidence produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leading scientific body on the topic, clearly indicates that climate change is happening now, there remains a strong divide among decision-makers.

We depend upon decision-makers, from countries of Continue reading

‘The Sacred and the Sustainable’ by Anne Marie Sowder, MSc graduate

(c) Charles Tilford

(c) Charles Tilford

For the first time in human history, more people on the planet are living in urban areas than in rural areas. Taken in aggregate, people are on the move to cities, cities where much of the existing building stock still reflects the demographics and needs of their previous populations. This is particularly true for certain religious institutions whose sacred architecture — often monumental worship spaces– are sitting empty. This is just such the case as in New York City, one of the densest urban areas in the United States. Can the sacred be sustained in the city or will financial Continue reading

‘Walkable urbanism as an economic driver?’ By Tim Phillips, MSc graduate

Reconnecting America (c)There is a sea change occurring in United States mobility in recognition of multimodal transit as it relates to walkability and resultant effects on urban forms. Cities and states are in many instances directing future development toward multimodal transit stations, called Transit Oriented Development in the United States, which includes Continue reading

‘The Harder They Come: colonial and postcolonial narratives of resilience in urban Jamaica’ By Dr David Howard, MSc course director and lecturer

BBC World Service (c)The urban Caribbean, and particularly downtown neighbourhoods of the Jamaican capital city, Kingston, have generated contrasting, and iconic, images for local, diasporic and global audiences: localised artistic, sporting and entrepreneurial creativity shape contemporary global tastes; strong state and neighbourhood leaderships brought communities through the Continue reading