UCL Urban Laboratory


Call for Papers: Urban Lab+ London Symposium 2015

11 February 2015

Global Urban Higher Education: the challenges and potentials of internationalisation Urban Lab+ London Symposium, 16-17 September 2015 Deadline: 11.00 BST, 27 April 2015

Urban Lab +

In a world that is both rapidly urbanising and globalising, it is widely acknowledged that it is crucial to facilitate urban education that is based on global knowledge and addresses international issues. But it is not always clear how this can be best implemented in practice, especially to ensure urban education plays a constitutive role in addressing issues of urban inequality and global disparities in the production of urban knowledge, and in the application of expertise.

University College London (UCL) will be hosting an international symposium on global approaches to urban higher education on 16 and 17 September 2015. This event forms part of the Urban Lab+ initiative funded by the European Union's Erasmus Mundus programme and including eight urban laboratories from across the world.

These units have in common their dedication to multi-/cross-/inter- and trans-disciplinary learning; their emphasis on hands-on collaborative research and education; and their attempts to bring together the disciplinary resources of the academy with the practical spheres of architecture, urban design and planning. Working in partnership the labs have been engaged in conversations focused on how interdisciplinary, practice-oriented and international approaches to built environment education relate to the question of urban social inclusion and exclusion.

The Urban Lab+ London Symposium will comprise three elements:

  • a public presentation of collaborative projects by the eight urban laboratories on the afternoon of 16 September 2015;
  • a public panel discussion, reception and exhibition on the evening of 16 September with contributions from academics, practitioners, policy-makers and activists on the topic of internationalising urban higher education;
  • a symposium featuring peer-reviewed papers and presentations on 17 September offering opportunities to share and discuss experiences of, and approaches to, internationalising urban education.

We invite individuals and groups to make proposals for short presentations (10 minutes) and/or longer papers (20 minutes) that respond to some of the challenges and dilemmas posed by the internationalisation of urban education. Proposals will be blind peer reviewed.  It is envisaged that some of the selected contributions will contribute to a planned anthology with essay-length contributions aimed at urban educators, policy-makers and students.

Proposals are invited which address the following themes and questions, or related areas:

1. The challenges and opportunities of internationalising urban higher education pedagogy

  • What challenges do trends in global urban theory and in global urban development pose for contemporary urban educational practice?
  • Which urban educational practices might help to challenge epistemological and geographical hierarchies in urban education?
  • How can curricula best respond to, and draw on, the different international experiences and cultural backgrounds of students on urban-related programmes?
  • How can students be prompted to critically reflect on the processes of globalised urban knowledge production and circulation of which they are often a constitutive part?
  • How can urban education develop students' professional and ethical competences in relation to globalised urban development practice?

2. Comparative methods, exchanges and partnerships in international urban higher education

  • What potential is there for urban knowledge to be co-created amongst different international institutions and across different regions through collaborative pedagogic practices?
  • Can international comparisons, partnerships and collaborative pedagogic platforms help to enhance cross/inter/trans-disciplinary urban pedagogy and urbanism?
  • How can innovative comparative frameworks be composed through urban pedagogy to engender a more globally relevant urban education?
  • In what ways can study trips and overseas fieldwork contribute to challenging assumptions about the generalisability of urban knowledge and practice?
  • Can student exchanges, including those undertaken through digital platforms or online, help to develop new forms of urban theory and practice?
  • How do partnerships in international urban education work? To what extent are they partnerships of equivalence? How are reciprocal international relationships in education in the built environment best forged?

3. The origins, institutional contexts and futures of international urban higher education

  • What can current initiatives to internationalise urban training learn from the history of 'internationalisation' in urban education, including the role of imperial, neoliberal and developmental policy networks in shaping urban education?
  • What roles do universities play in the politics and practices of urban development? How can international collaborative and comparative approaches to urban education support the development of more ethical models for university-city relations?
  • What urban practices and priorities have university built environment course design, marketing, and recruitment strategies emphasised in responding to the challenges of internationalization? How might a collaborative international approach help to inform these initiatives?
  • How can urban pedagogy engage with local communities to explore global relations and connections, and develop a sense of urban politics and responsibilities towards a wider planet?



Please send a maximum of 250 words for group or individual proposals for presentations (10 minutes) or papers (20 minutes) to urbanlaboratory@ucl.ac.uk by 11.00 AM GMT, Monday 27 April 2015. Please include the name and email of a lead contact for group proposals.

Proposals should be sent preferably in an MS Word document, using Calibri fonts, 12pt size, single-spaced. Leave a line between paragraphs, but no indents. The proposal should be clear and well written in English. If using images, do not send them in a separate file, as these will not be accepted.


Call for papers (pdf)

Further information

Please note that we are unable to assist with travel and accommodation costs. Lunch for delegates will be provided.

Please direct any questions about the symposium or the call for papers to the symposium coordinator, Jordan Rowe, jordan.rowe@ucl.ac.uk.

See also


Urban Lab+ partners consist of TU Berlin (Germany), EPFL (Switzerland), University of Calabria (Italy), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, WITS (South Africa), Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute (India), Chinese University of Hong Kong, University College London (United Kingdom).