‘Getting a Quart into a Pint Pot’: Challenges facing Transport for London by Olivia Milne-Day

Urban transport networksBen Plowden, Director of Strategy and Planning at Transport for London (TfL) Surface Transport, gave a thought-provoking talk to our students on the MSc in Sustainable Urban Development. The talk focused on how TfL need to optimise urban transport networks for maximum social, economic and environmental benefits and how they plan to achieve this.

Ben set the scene by highlighting the enormity of the task with almost 2.4 billion passengers using London’s bus network every year, the equivalent to a third of the world’s population. As the number of road users continues to grow, TfL have to control congestion Continue reading

Unlocking Urban Political Economies through the Sharing Economy by Nihan Akyelken

(c) Simon Cockell, on Flickr

(c) Simon Cockell, on Flickr

The sharing economy broadly refers to access-based consumption or people renting their unused goods with others mainly through the use of information technologies (IT). The newly emerging practices are particularly favoured on environmental grounds due to their role in the utilisation of unused sources. The examples of such practices are most evident in transport and hospitality sectors. AirBnB, car clubs, cycle hire schemes, ‘Uber’-like taxi-hire, are clear everyday life examples in cities. As with all emerging forms of consumption, there is no consensus on what sharing or collaborative consumption implies for the economy. In his book The Zero Marginal Cost, Jeremy Rifkin argues that the marginal cost of producing an extra unit of input becomes (close to) zero through IT-based consumption practices. This in turn makes profit-making cease to exist, which might create another crisis for capitalism. While the argument has led to a broad range of negative and positive responses and is therefore not conclusive, it is still crucial to extrapolate the future implications of this current move towards services. Even a massive industry with a long-term vision such as car manufacturing has openly recognised this trend, and they provide alternatives to car ownership through several sharing services. It is clearly an appropriate question to ask what could be the long-term impact of replacing buying goods by buying services or exchanging goods through the use of IT. Continue reading

‘Report on Workshop “African Dreams”, University of Oxford, 8 June 2015’ by Idalina Baptista

(c) Arne Hoel / World Bank via Flickr

(c) Arne Hoel / World Bank via Flickr

Last June we had the pleasure of hosting here in Oxford the research workshop African Dreams: Imaginations of urban life and infrastructure in the African metropolis. The event was organized with the support of Oxford’s John Fell Fund, the African Studies Centre, the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, our own Sustainable Urban Development programme, and the generosity of Mozambican photographer Mauro Pinto, who lent his work to illustrate our event.

The main purpose of the workshop was to take infrastructure as a focal point for discussing the future of urbanization in the African continent, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2010 report by the World Bank 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

‘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

Welcome to the Sustainable Urban Development Blog

shutterstock_124831474Welcome to the Sustainable Urban Development programme at the University of Oxford.

This blog mirrors the interdisciplinarity of the postgraduate programme for part-time students of sustainable urbanism at Oxford. It serves as a forum for MSc and DPhil students, urban practitioners and academics to share their ideas, critiques and experiences of present and future city living and the built environment. Continue reading