A Newton Fund workshop on ‘Urban Dialogues’ revealed stark similarities in the urban challenges facing the UK and Brazil. That was the conclusion of a workshop on ‘Urban Dialogues’ held in May 2016 in Brazil.

The event ‘Urban dialogues: Creating inclusive urban spaces in uncertain global times’ was organised by Dr Sarah Ayres (Regional Studies Association Treasurer and Board Member, University of Bristol, UK) and Professor Clélio Campolina Diniz (Vice President of the RSA, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil) and was funded by the Newton Fund Researcher Links via the British Council, UK and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), Brazil. Researcher Links Workshops bring together early career researchers from the UK and select partner countries to allow them to make international connections that can improve the quality of their research.

The event was held on 3-6 May 2016 at the Center for Regional Development and Planning at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil and was hosted locally by Dr Pedro Amaral (RSA Latin American Division). It also involved contributions from other world leading researchers, including   Professors Roberto Luís de Melo Monte-Mór and Heloísa Soares de Moura Costa (Federal University Minas Gerais, Brazil), Dr John Harrison (Editor, Regional Studies, Loughborough University, UK) and Dr Stephen Hincks (Incoming Editor in Chief, Regional Studies, Regional Science, University of Manchester, UK). The event attracted twenty-four selected early career urban scholars from the UK and Brazil.

One of the major impacts of the global economic crisis is the way it has deepened inequalities at a time when the state’s capacity for public intervention to tackle inequality has diminished. These developments raise questions about what forms of governance step in when the state withdraws and how urban policy can be developed to reflect the interests of all. Participants reflected on the usefulness of previous urban development approaches and explored the potential for inclusive and creative responses.

The UK and Brazil are characterised by very different political, economic and social traditions. Nonetheless, participants were able to identify a series of themes that resonate in both countries. Indeed, there was much to learn from a shared dialogue and reflecting comparatively on urban experiences and perspectives.

The workshop was held over four days.Early career scholars had the opportunity to present their research to others in the group. There were also sessions on crafting an academic identity, constructing and defending big ideas, international funding opportunities, developing international research collaborations and ensuring social and economic impact through urban research. More specifically, a number of themes were identified at the workshop as future avenues for international research collaboration, including:

¨ Using big data

¨ Citizenship & democracy

¨ Trust & community resilience

¨ The urban environment

¨ Spatial equity & territorial justice

¨ The methodological challenges of comparative urban research

¨ Transforming public services

¨ Managing change in times of crisis

¨ The tensions between equality & growth

 

For more detail on the RSA’s Latin America Division, please go to www.regionalstudies.org/networks/network/latin-america