The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Cali, Colombia – Exploring intersectional lives in ‘barrios populares’

In collaboration with Universidad del Valle

Closing date for applications:  Monday 17 October, at 1pm
Interviews of shortlisted candidates: Thursday 20 October (please see below ‘To apply’ section)

Start: 15 November
Duration: 1 month (plus up to one month for finalisation of deliverables)

Financial support: 4,500 GBP (please see below ‘Contractual details’ section)
Eligibility: all DPU alumni, and current DPU and UCL PhD students

The DPU summerLab was born out of the MSc Building & Urban Design in Development (BUDD) course in 2009 and expanded in 2010 into a wider DPU initiative. It is intended to provoke, stimulate, and reconsider the role of designers and researchers in promoting spatial justice in cities’ contested spaces. In this special 2022 series, we are reviewing and expanding our format, offering the opportunity to a series of researchers to work in a specific locality, for about four weeks, with the support of a local partner – in this case in Cali, Colombia, along with the Universidad del Valle.


The Universidad del Valle is one of the most influential public universities in Colombia. It is the largest higher education institution by student population in the southwest of the country, and the third in Colombia, with more than 30,000 students. Its main campus is based in the city of Cali, Valle del Cauca. It offers education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, with 258 academic programs, which include 65 masters, medical specialities, and PhD programmes. Also, it hosts an “Excellence Research Centre”, six research centres, three research institutes, and more than 200 research groups.

DPU and Universidad del Valle have recently collaborated on the Gridding Equitable Urban Futures in Areas of Transition (GREAT), a three-year research project (led by Lancaster University) that aims to generate change in informal off-grid settlements located in Cali (Colombia) and Havana (Cuba). The research in Cali is being carried out in four informal settlements in District 18 (Alto Polvorines, La Arboleda, Pampas del Mirador and Brisas de Las Palmas). The four settlements have a total population of about 10,000 inhabitants. GREAT's main objective is to examine the dynamics of urban space production asking in which ways being on- and off-grid provide an opportunity to rethink the relationship between people and urban infrastructure in areas of transition. The methodological and empirical approach is undertaken through three thematic PublicLabs: Mobility and Transport, Zero Waste and Neighbourhood Upgrading Policy. So far, GREAT has managed to build a strong network of community, public and private actors to work on the development of the first neighbourhood upgrading programme with an intersectional approach to be implemented in the four settlements GREAT focuses on.

Main purpose of the role and responsibilities

The Research Fellow will be based in Universidad del Valle from the 15th of November to the 15th of December. The Research Fellow will contribute to the activities of the GREAT project starting with the participation in one of GREAT’s international conferences to be hosted by the team in Cali between the 15th and the 17th of November 2022. The event will be attended by GREAT’s research teams from Cuba and the UK and will count on the participation of national and international speakers, and experts in the field of urban development and planning. This event will mark the beginning of the Cali-based activities and will serve as an overall introduction to the context of Cali and its stakeholders, and as exposure to the scope and objectives of the GREAT research project. The Research Fellow will then support the agenda of the PublicLabs in Cali, with three main responsibilities:

-    To analyse and interpret data from the socioeconomic survey collected by the GREAT team in 2021. The survey contains data about household composition, socio-demographic characteristics, household economy and entrepreneurship, residents’ perceptions of participation, security and conviviality, and so on. 
-    To work on the production of a series of qualitative georeferenced maps (eg. emotions, perceptions) from the analysis and cross-referencing of the survey data with the qualitative work advanced by each PublicLab (the dataset is already georeferenced and will be made available to the researcher).
-    To liaise with all relevant stakeholders to corroborate existing data and to present new data generated through the Fellowship. This will be done through participatory workshops, interviews, focus groups or any other format suggested. 

The above activities will be facilitated by staff at Universidad del Valle and further supervised (first in situ and then remotely) by DPU staff. 


-    please notice that, prior to the above Cali-based activities, the Research Fellow will be required to attend a mandatory research workshop at the DPU (dates tbc). In the event the Research Fellow is not currently based in London, the workshop can be attended online from a remote location;
-    please notice that, should the project’s deliverables not be completed by the 15th of December, the Research Fellow will be required to complete the work by the 15th of January.

Person specification


Criteria (qualifications, experience and knowledge)

Essential or Desirable

Assessment method (Application / Interview)

Fluency in (spoken and written) English and Spanish


A and I

Knowledge of Geographic Information System (GIS) databases


A and I

Fluency in Microsoft Excel and capacity of organising and analysing spreadsheets



An understanding of the current debate on urban informality


A and I

Experience in the production of maps, and in the collection of data through mapping


A and I

Self-motivation and proven experience of working under own initiative


A and I

Knowledge of current Latin American urban transformation dynamics, with a specific focus on Colombia


A and I

Previous experience working in research projects and within wider research teams


A and I

Contractual details

DPU will support the selected Research Fellow with 4,500 GBP covering:

a. Return ticket to Cali;

b. A living allowance to cover accommodation, meals, and transportation to and from work station;

c. Visa as and if applicable;

d. Medical insurance (and covid tests, as and if applicable by the date of departure). Please notice that showing proof of payment of the insurance is a pre-condition for being granted the award.

The amount of 4,500 GBP will be transferred by DPU to the Research Fellow in two instalments: two thirds (3,000 GBP) after signing the contract; one third (1,500 GBP) upon finalisation of deliverables.

Please notice that the Research Fellow will be required to return a part or the entirety of the first instalment in case of early interruption of the fellowship or if failing to finalise the agreed deliverables. 

To apply

Please send a statement of purpose and a CV by 1pm on Monday 17 October 2022, to dpusummerLab@ucl.ac.uk. Shortlisted candidates will be notified on Tuesday 18 October, and interviews held in the afternoon of Thursday 20 October – a specific time will be communicated once candidates are notified (please notice we will not be able to change the interview schedule).

For clarification and further information, please contact Dr Giorgio Talocci (DPU summerLab programme coordinator) at giorgio.talocci.11@ucl.ac.uk and we will be happy to help.