Globally-Informed City Climate Pedagogy and Practice: Decolonising urban and architectural curricula for effective climate actions

Sustainable Urbanism Research Projects

Giulio Verdini

A project funded by SCUE (Sustainable Cities and the Urban Environment) Community of the University of Westminster (2019), as part of the UN-HABITAT Initiative ‘Planners for Climate Actions’.
University of Westminster Team: Giulio Verdini, Johan Woltjer, Roudaina Alkhani, Nicholas Beech, Paolo Cascone, Sabina Cioboata,Terry Lamb, Michael Neuman
International Advisory Board: Olivia Bina (University of Lisbon), Steven Bland (UN-HABITAT), Hassan Radoine (Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco).

Innovative forms of climate pedagogy are emerging in urban and architectural curricula across the world. They are more considered of notions of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’, and, at the same time, more inclined to incorporate climate resiliency at the core. This research aims to understand how architects and urban planners should be educated to tackle climate change effectively by adopting a de-colonial perspective. This is based on two considerations:

  1. Universities across the world have been challenged as institutions failing to recognise the limits of their knowledge production, and have been asked to incorporate a diverse contribution of people and approaches. This is part of the broad ambition to decolonise Universities.
  2. Urban and architectural knowledge, and therefore solutions for urban problems including climate adaptation strategies, has been predominantly produced in the Western world and, more critically, used in the Global South where most of the urbanisation is today occurring.

Taken together, these two strands point to the need to develop a broader (globally-informed) and more context-sensitive knowledge, as highlighted in post- colonial architecture and urbanism. At the same time, it suggests that universities need to embrace an overall transformative education model, which implies reconsidering both the process of knowledge production, and the development of suitable skills, values and dispositions to deliver a more ambitious education for sustainable development, as promoted by UNESCO.

This research contributes with interviews, podcast and a BLOG: http://blog.westminster.ac.uk/ccpp/blog/ to the UN- HABITAT Initiative ‘Planners for Climate Action’: https://www.planners4climate.org.