During Terms 2 and 3, the practice module focuses on a two-week action learning initiative embedded in a real case scenario, taking place in an urban area within the Global South.
Using a practical platform, the Overseas Practice Engagement (OPE) exercise helps to consolidate and ground the various elements of the programme. While relating to the core components of the SDP programme, such as citizenship, wellbeing, social diversity and participation, the exercise aims to develop students’ reflexivity as social development practitioners, provide them with practical action-research skills, and engage with issues raised by partners and communities in a local context.
As such, at the centre of the engagement is the relationship with a partner and local communities – in order to encourage collaborative work towards social justice outcomes. Working in teams (and usually with local students and/or community leaders) students carry out secondary research to understand: social, economic and urban policies; historical social movements; and the agency and everyday practices of residents on a given issue. Students are expected to engage with participatory methods in order to facilitate primary research – with the aim of providing evidence to support our partners in improving participation, recognition and/or redistribution of resources for residents.
The overseas practice engagement is a unique opportunity to develop the skills of a social development practitioner and researcher, whilst working on a real case, in collaboration with local partners.
Indonesia fieldtrip (2020-present)
In 2020, SDP began a 4-year collaboration with Kota Kita through the Urban Citizenship Academy (UCA) to advance social justice and inclusive planning in Indonesia cities. UCA is an initiative by Kota Kita to engage a new generation of young leaders and support them in solving pressing urban problems.
- 2021 – year two
The second year the OPE engagement focused on advancing inclusive design and planning in Indonesian cities through a process of remote knowledge co-production. The engagement aimed to foster learning between students from UCL and UCA about disability and inclusive planning in Indonesian cities and to learn from (and contribute to) Indonesian Organizations of People with Disabilities and low-income neighbourhoods in Banjarmasin and Solo.
UCA invited students from Universitas Sebelas Maret (Surakarta) and Universitas Lambung Mangkurat (Banjarmasin) and due to the remote nature of the engagement students from SDP and UCA were able to work together to develop their research projects for two months from February prior to the two-week remote research activity in April. Research activities included online interviews, participatory photography, mapping and policy research.
In addition to the research activities, an online webinar on Inclusive Planning and Design - City Scale Strategy was organised to explore strategies and advocacy for city-wide inclusive development and efforts to support PWD’s citizenship practices and their active involvement in city development processes. Invited speakers were Pong Cruz and Risnawati Utami and the event was hosted by SDP co-programme leader Julian Walker. The webinar is available online.
A collective report and other outputs will be published during Summer 2021.
- 2020 – year one
The first year of the engagement between SDP and UCA explored inclusive citizenship in the city of Banjarmasin. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the engagement took place online. Over two weeks in May, groups made up of students from SDP and UCA worked together to develop a research proposal on a neighbourhood and relevant entry point. The research activities were implemented by students from UCA in September 2020 adhering to Covid-19 protocols once restrictions had reduced in the city.
Brazil fieldtrip (2016-2019)
Since 2016 the SDP field trip was based in Salvador, Brazil, where we partnered with the research group 'Lugar Comum' (Common Place) from the faculty of architecture at the Universidade Federal da Bahia to carry out an action learning initiative focusing on the documenting of collective practices claiming rights to the city in Salvador.
Throughought the fieldtrips, lessons were gathered on the social conditions and practices employed by such collectives, which can support their ongoing mobilisation as well as inform the implementation of a building rehabilitation project in which Lugar Comum is involved. Groups of students researched four thematic areas: urban change and planning in Salvador and Brazil; social programmes and urban poverty; urban social mobilisation and collective action; and social mapping and critical urban learning.
- Bridging Local Collective Practices towards a Platform for the Right to the City in Salvador, Bahia Unindo Práticas Coletivas Locais em Direção a uma Plataforma pelo Direito à Cidade em Salvador, Bahia
- Collective practices and the right to the city in Salvador, Brazil - UCL
- Práticas coletivas e o direito à cidade em Salvador, Bahia - UFBA
- Image gallery
- Kenya fieldtrips (2013-2015)
In 2013, 2014 and 2015, SDP field work took place in Kisumu, Kenya, and was supported by the international NGO Practical Action, an organisation that works to implement sustainable technologies in relation to urban services, energy, food and agriculture and disaster risk reduction, to challenge the conditions of poverty.
In 2013, students worked on a research assignment entitled Participatory Informal Settlement Upgrading and Well-Being. The project focused on three informal settlements in Kisumu, looking to understand how a process of community-led planning could support the full range of residents' aspirations.
Students were asked to examine four different water and sanitation interventions within three low-income neighbourhoods in Kisumu. Each intervention represented a different model of service delivery, and students were asked to assess the well-being impacts of each, exploring dimensions including dignity, health, empowerment, security, recognition, accessibility and equity in relation to diverse identities within the settlement.
In 2014, students undertook an action learning exercise examining the role of Neighbourhood Planning Associations (NPAs) in enhancing the participatory capabilities of the urban poor to achieve substantive citizenship in Kisumu. Each group partnered with a different NPA to explore and offer recommendations on how issues such as practices of representation, operational context, and relation to wider governance structures impacted on each NPA's role. Practical action and the Kisumu Urban Apostolate Programme (KUAP) worked closely with students in this work.
In 2015, the field assignment, entitled 'Social Action for Substantive Citizenship in Kisumu, Kenya', emerged out of a partnership between the DPU, Practical Action and the Kisumu Informal Settlements Network (KISN), once again with the support of KUAP.
Four students groups were each given a campaign topic that emerged from the previous years' engagements: Housing, Infrastructure, Markets and Disabilities. The groups worked with KISN representatives and local facilitators in Kisumu's informal settlements, conducting research that culminated in a set of recommendations for advocacy strategies to support KISN campaigns and negotiations with local authorities.
The full report of students' findings can be downloaded below.
Student report:Image gallery
Advocating for People-Centred Development in Kisumu, Kenya
Student report:Image gallery
- Tanzania 2000-2012
From 2000 to 2012 students carried out research in Tanzania, in collaboration with the Community Development Department, Arusha Municipal Council.