Collection of essays on the first year of the DPU/ACHR Junior Professionals Programme is out
14 February 2014
This week sees the web-launch of a collection of essays recounting the experiences and learnings from the first class of the DPU/ACHR Junior Professionals Programme. Grounding Knowledge: reflections on community-driven development in South-East Asia tells the stories of DPU alumni who spent six months working with communities in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. During six months of immersion, the interns supported mapping, planning and design processes and debated issues of housing and land rights. Through this experience they shared lives, perspectives, values and stories with communities across South-East Asia.
The pilot internship programme is a joint initiative between the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, the Community Architects Network and DPU. Built around the notion of a collective learning process, the programme seeks to ground knowledge-sharing and innovation development in community partners’ tactical interventions and local experiences. For the DPU, the Junior Professionals Programme is a logical extension of its ethical and pedagogical stance, something already prevalent through the ‘practice modules’ present in all MSc programmes. This exposure to practice aims to build future practitioners’ reflexivity and the ethical sensibility that underpins socially just urban development planning and design.
The book retells this collective conversation. Written by the interns who took part in the programme, the essays describe how tacit knowledge about development emerges among professionals, working on the ground in real-life situations, as partners with poor communities. What emerges is the constant need to negotiate and reconfigure meanings and positions – including where we, as “experts”, are located. By refusing a conventional, safe, expert-based, object-oriented culture, the experiences collected in this book illustrate that a different urban planning and architectural practice is possible.