UCL Urban Laboratory


From services to dialogues: Reflections on action learning initiatives across the North-South divide

Since 2013, the Masters Programme in Social Development Practice (SDP) of The Bartlett Development Planning Unit of UCL has established collaborations with the international NGO Practical Action and their partners in the city of Kisumu, Kenya, and the Camden network of CitizensUK. The objective of these partnerships has been to conduct a series of action learning initiatives through the practice module of the SDP programme, exploring and supporting the mobilisations of residents affected by uneven urban development trends. In the context of Kisumu, the main focus has been on the role of neighbourhood planning associations in informal settlements in addressing the tendencies of gentrification caused by a series of infrastructure interventions. In London, the work has focussed on the advocacy campaign led by Camden Citizens to respond to the threats of disruptions and displacement caused by the potential expansion of Euston Station due to the plans for the High Speed 2 rail link project.

This paper firstly aims to explore the commonalities and specificities of these two  'spatialities of learning' (McFarlane, 2011). It reflects on the conditions of urban governance shaping the partnerships between the Masters programme and the groups and organisations in the UK and Kenya. Secondly, the paper aims to reflect on the role these two action learning initiatives have been playing in processes of social mobilisation in these two contexts. Instead of focusing on the 'service' provided by such initiatives, this paper will focus on the role of the 'dialogues' unlocked by the processes and outputs of these initiatives.

15 minute paper by Alex Apsan Frediani (UCL).

Session three: 17.30 - 19.00, Thursday 17 September, Darwin Lecture Theatre. 


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