The Development Planning Unit conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the global south.
We are part of The Bartlett: UCL's global faculty of the built environment.
Dr Colin Marx is a Senior Lecturer and the PhD Programme Director.
A town planner, adult educator and geographer by training, I have extensive experience in community-driven struggles against inequalities in African cities. A consistent focus of my work has been how to identify and act in relation to power relations that produce or sustain urban inequities. I explore how power is mobilised, sustained and used to generate urban environments through the conditions of impoverishment and informality that characterise many cities in the Global South.
In the DPU, I lead a module on The City and its relations with a focus on urban land issues as part of the MSc Urban Development Planning and a practice module on Urban Economic Development as part of the MSc Urban Economic Development. I have taught at Kingston University London and lectured at universities in South Africa.
Before joining UCL, I directed a large urban advocacy NGO in South Africa in the post-apartheid period. The organisation was involved in innovative and supportive interventions in the urban environment such as community mobilising, architecture and infrastructural planning, project management, community based loan schemes and research.
My current research interests relate to attempts to produce accounts of urban development processes from the perspective of poor and marginalised groups of women and men in sub-Saharan African cities. To this end, I am focusing on the role of informal land markets in broader urban land markets and development; the relationship between formal and informal land use management practices; the role of property rights in relation to city development; rethinking the urban economies of poor people; validating the economic knowledge of poor women and men working informally in cities, questioning the relationship between poverty and urban economic development; and the mobilisation of power through transnational activist networks.