Dhaka City Centre

APPLY NOW: Capacity Development Acceleration Fund for Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods

The GCRF Centre for Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC) is pleased to launch a new fund to strengthen the capacity of early career researchers to understand and address global challenges in fast-growing cities in developing countries.

This new funding scheme – the Capacity Development Acceleration Fund – supports a visiting research fellowship programme, as well as pilot research, knowledge mobilisation and research management projects.

If you, or your organisation, are interested in building capacity to tackle urban, health and education challenges in developing country cities then please apply by 31 March 2019.

We are particularly looking to support early career researchers looking to strengthen their experience working in ODA (Official Development Assistance) eligible developing country cities.

To download the application form and for more information about the funding scheme, including  who can apply and costs that can be covered, please visit the SHLC website.

Eligibility

SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund supports a range of different activities, but first and foremost applicants must focus on SHLC ‘challenge areas’ (urban, health and education – see SHLC’s research themes) within neighbourhoods and cities of one or more ODA (Official Development Assistance) eligible countries. Visit the OECD for more information about ODA eligible countries, including definition and coverage.

Visiting fellowships and pilot projects should complement the core work of SHLC by:

  • Extending: SHLC research and methodologies in a new context, such as a different city beyond our case study countries;
  • Enhancing: capacity of individuals, teams and organisations beyond the core SHLC consortium to address global challenges in fast-growing cities through research, training or knowledge exchange events;
  • Translating: SHLC’s key research findings for community settings with non-academic audiences through creative engagement, like community events or creative content.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about the funding scheme, please do not hesitate to contact the SHLC project team at: shlc-info@glasgow.ac.uk.

SHLC is funded via UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.


Aerial view, Dhaka, Bangladesh

New Research Reports: National Urban Policies and City Profiles

To celebrate World Cities Day SHLC launch new research reports exploring national urban policies and profiles for fast-growing cities across Africa and Asia.

Over the past year, SHLC international teams have been examining the relationship between urbanisation, migration, economic development, education, health and social sustainability in rapidly urbanising cities.

The research reports, which can be downloaded below, present a review of national urban policies paying particular attention to health and education, before going on to present a city profile for each of the SHLC case study cities.

This preliminary research will help to establish how the development and urban planning process in these cities has operated and how it has influenced the spatial structure of the city and the emergence of particular types of neighbourhood.

Professor Ya Ping Wang, Director of SHLC, University of Glasgow said:

“Urbanisation is a driving force for economic growth and social change in Africa and Asia. However the speed of urbanisation varies from country to country. After several decades of rapid expansion, urbanisation in India, China and South Africa is beginning to slow down, while larger capital cities in smaller developing countries continue to grow very fast. For example Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania will be a megacity of 10 million people by 2030.”

“Our preliminary research shows that while urbanisation and migration in our case study cities has brought growth, it has also led to a great deal of inequality between different social and economic groups, communities and neighbourhoods. It has also put pressure on education and health systems. The next stage of our project will focus on the internal social and spatial structures of neighbourhoods within these cities to help find practical solutions.”


SHLC international team, capacity-strengthening workshop, University of Glasgow.

40 attendees, 10 countries, a two-week workshop and lots of knowledge shared

SHLC capacity strengthening workshop – Glasgow 2018

The University of Glasgow proudly hosted a two-week long capacity strengthening workshop as part of the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC). 

Over the course of two weeks more than 40 researchers and academics from 10 different countries attended 30 different workshops and training sessions on range of different topics including global urban policy, learning cities, healthy neighbourhoods, big data, virtual reality, research impact, policymaking, geographic information systems (GIS) and much more!  ‌

SHLC international team, capacity-strengthening workshop, University of Glasgow.
SHLC international team, capacity-strengthening workshop, University of Glasgow. Credit: University of Glasgow

Ramjee Bhandari, SHLC research fellow said:

“For me the best thing about the workshop was networking. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet all of the other researchers from the international teams and learn about their work and their experience working in African and Asian cities. As a health expert I enjoyed learning about different disciplines, particularly education and global urban policy, which I’m really looking forward to learning more about.” 

Professor Mike Osborne, Capacity Strengthening Lead for SHLC said:

“SHLC in large part is about the strengthening the research capacity of researchers not only in the global south, but also in the UK. It is also about the creation of next generation researchers in the field of sustainable urban development. It is clearly evident that the participants learnt a lot, but also contributed much from which we can all learn. Our engagement with the citizens of Glasgow led to some very positive conversations, not least the suggestion of linking neighbourhoods in the city with those in the 14 cities we are studying in the global south. Contributions to the workshop from senior officials to the city confirmed the international perspective of the city, and its willingness to be a learning city. This is the start of a great journey for us all.”

“For me the best thing about the workshop was networking. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet all of the other researchers from the international teams and learn about their work and their experience working in African and Asian cities. As a health expert I enjoyed learning about different disciplines, particularly education and global urban policy, which I’m really looking forward to learning more about.”  (Ramjee Bhandari, SHLC Research Fellow)

SHLC aims to enhance research capacity in developing countries and the UK through a series of capacity building activities and a joint cross-country comparative research project on sustainable, healthy and learning cities and neighbourhoods. This workshop was the first major training event, which brought all the research assistants and research fellows working on the project together for the first time. Watch the video above to find out more.

The aim of the workshop was to help develop essential research understanding and skills to help the team develop knowledge required to conduct SHLC research activities. But broader, and perhaps more importantly than that, the workshop also set out to build a network of urban researchers interested in urban, health and education challenges in fast growing developing country cities, to share their own unique knowledge and experiences and help them on their journey toward becoming next generation research leaders in this important subject area.

Discussing neighbourhoods at the SHLC capacity-stengthening workshop.
Discussing neighbourhoods at the SHLC capacity-stengthening workshop. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

Gail Wilson, SHLC’s Senior Business Manager said:

“It was important to our project that we also provided a space for researchers to learn how to improve impact and engagement skills so that their research findings are heard and found by the right people at the right time. The highlight of the workshop for me was watching our virtual reality hackathon, I truly was transported to another world and hope we get to use this technology as part of our research! I also enjoyed getting out and about in the city to see some innovative examples of ‘sustainable neighbourhoods’ in Glasgow. Visiting a co-operative housing group in Possilpark and hearing from urban residents reminded me why our research matters – understanding neighbourhoods will truly help improve urban living.”


Elderly man overlooks port, Yangtze river. Chongqing, China

Visiting Chongqing - What is it Like to Live in One of the Biggest Cities in the World?

What is it like to live in one of the biggest cities in the world?

Researchers from the SHLC team joined their international research partners, who had travelled from Africa and Asia, in China to visit and learn more about the built environment and social infrastructure of Chinese cities.

The international team of 30 researchers explored different neighbourhoods in Chongqing, which is said to be one of the biggest cities in the world with an estimated population of 30 million. The research visit formed part of the GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC) international partner meeting hosted by project partner Nankai University.

Elderly man overlooks port, Yangtze river. Chongqing, China
Elderly man overlooks port, Yangtze river. Chongqing, China . Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

From traditional ‘work unit’ housing areas to social housing, and high-end luxury villas where the Yangze and Jialing rivers meet, the international team explored many different types of neighbourhoods in Chongqing.

As Urban Studies Professor Ya Ping Wang, the Principal Investigator leading the project said:

“The neighbourhood research tours provided a unique opportunity for the international SHLC research team to experience Chinese neighbourhoods first hand. For some of our researchers this is the very first time they have visited China, and for some it is the first time they have been to Asia, so it was excellent to all come together to understand the difference, and sometimes surprisingly similarities, of urban development in different developing countries.”

Josephine Malonza from the University of Rwanda said:

“It would have taken many months of reading for me to get to know the planning and design of Chinese cities. So it has been a fantastic opportunity to visit Chongqing to help me understand the makeup of neighbourhoods in China and help support my own urban research and analysis back home in Rwanda.”

"It would have taken many months of reading for me to get to know the planning and design of Chinese cities. So it has been a fantastic opportunity to visit Chongqing to help me understand the makeup of neighbourhoods in China and help support my own urban research and analysis back home in Rwanda.”

‘Work unit’ housing area, Chongqing, China. June 2018
‘Work unit’ housing area, Chongqing, China. June 2018. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

Next the team ascended 45 floors in an area close to the river in the financial district to view a gated luxury apartment block. With gardeners, cleaners, security guards and building managers working throughout the grounds, this neighbourhood, and the shiny elevators, revealed an entirely different reality.

“We learned that as recently as 2000 this district was just a village surrounded by fields and with very little commercial activity”, said Professor Keith Kintrea. “But today this whole area is dominated by commercial private housing worth millions of pounds”

‘Oriental Glory’ housing - luxury living. Chongqing, China
‘Oriental Glory’ housing - luxury living. Chongqing, China. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

‘Oriental Glory’ luxury town houses on the river near Chongqing’s financial district. China. June 2018. Picture taken by Gail Wilson.

The international SHLC team began their research meeting at Nankai University in Tianjin by sharing key lessons from the first stage of the research project. Researchers from South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, India, Bangladesh, China and the Philippines presented an overview of national policy frameworks responding to urban, health and education challenges including a profile of SHLC case study cities.

The team also began to plan the next stage of research, which will focus on a three-stepped analysis to establish emerging patterns of neighbourhood distribution at the city, district and neighbourhood level, and discussed new opportunities to provides as part of the forthcoming capacity strengthening workshop.


Colorful hillside homes in Kigali, Rwanda

Launch of GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods

Monday 13 November was a wet and miserable evening but not in the Senate Room of at the University of Glasgow, as many colleagues from across the colleges came together with international academics from the Philippines, South Africa, China Tanzania, India, and Bangladesh, to celebrate the launch of the GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC). They were also joined by representatives from DFID and the Scottish Government.

Professor Anne Anderson launches SHLC
Professor Anne Anderson launches SHLC. Credit: University of Glasgow

Professor Anne Anderson, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Social Sciences, welcomed guests and informed them how delighted and excited the University is to host such an important project.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) would provide significant resources through Research Councils UK to fund challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, and to strengthen capacity and build research partnerships between UK based researchers and those in low and middle income countries.

The GCRF agenda also aligned closely with our own strategies and values here in Glasgow, both in terms of our interests and strength in research relevant to key global challenges,  our strong networks of international partners, and our commitment to social justice locally and globally.  Professor Anderson went on to say that SHLC builds on this ethos. It draws in expertise from many different areas of strength across the University, and builds on existing research strengths and international collaborators.

Professor Ya Ping Wang, SHLC Launch Event.
Professor Ya Ping Wang, SHLC Launch Event. Credit: University of Glasgow

Next to present was Centre Director, Professor Ya Ping Wang, who outlined the upcoming plans for SHLC. He explained how the focus will be on Africa and Asia with a knowledge exchange in and between countries via training, visiting research fellow programme, professional staff exchanges, events, and networking. The planned outcomes for the project include best examples of urban planning and management, a repertoire of reports, papers, and books, and a strong country and comparative knowledge base to progress global sustainable urban development.

The final speaker of the evening was Professor Ivan Turok, Executive Director in the Economic Performance and Development Unit of the HSRC. He described how happy he was to be part of the team who will try and improve living conditions for poorer communities, and how the emphasis on international collaboration and mutual learning was particularly important in this new era of rising global tensions and uncertainties. Professor Turok stressed that this was a partnership of equals, rather than an old-style unequal and imbalanced relationship between researchers in the North and South. He was also very excited to develop the next generation of urban researchers in the social sciences.