T3.5: Panel on City-University & Resilience

The Panel on “City-University & Resilience” and its approach to diverse government-university partnerships in diverse projects is providing a new understanding of urban resilience implementations.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines reframe as the action to change the way something is expressed or considered. On the other hand, according to Meerow et al (2015) urban resilience refers to the ability of an urban system and – all its constituent socio-ecological and socio-technical networks across temporal and spatial scales – to maintain or rapidly return to desired functions in the face of a disturbance, to adapt to change, and to quickly transform systems that limit current or future adaptive capacity. The Resilience Alliance (2007) claims that the urban system is composed of four major subsystems which are “governance networks”, “metabolic flows,” the “built environment,” and “social dynamics”. Governance networks refer to the diverse range of actors and institutions whose decisions shape urban systems. This includes the levels of government (denoted by “states”), nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and businesses (Meerow et al, 2015). 

The research presented during this argued the need to reformulate the role of universities in city-decision processes. Moreover, Fletcher Beaudoin and Beth Ferguson began their presentations by citing Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete”. Beaudoin, Ferguson, and all the six panelists claimed the importance to promote a new model of participation among the different levels of government and the universities, where the latter will become real cities’ actors while working in project-based transdisciplinary researches. This action can contribute to build sustainable capacities and to promote a more resilient approach to cities’ interventions.

Finally, even though, rethinking this partnership is momentous, it is also important to acknowledge that the “governance networks” expressed in the Resilience Alliance  (2007) will not be complete if nongovernmental organizations, public and private partners, and the community itself start to get involved in urban resilience transdisciplinary implementations.

City-university Partnerships and Capacity Building: Integrated resilience planning in Portland, Oregon
Fletcher Beaudoin, Liliana Caughman

Fletcher Beaudoin, assistant director at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland University, invites us to rethink the role of universities in decisions that shape urban systems. He claims that promoting transdisciplinary social infrastructures can help universities to become cities’ actors. To exemplify his argument, he presented “CapaCity”, an initiative supported by the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO) that encourages the active participation of universities in cities decision making. Nowadays, there are six universities from Germany, Mexico and the USA involved in “CapaCity”: Arizona State University (ASU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Portland State University (PSU), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Leuphana University of Lueneburg. The “CapaCity” initiative promotes key factors that can facilitate city-university partnerships, which are: mutual understanding of the context, motivation and engagement, commitment from both sides, interest in working together, and having resources and structures that enable this type of actions. The ultimate goal of this city-university partnership is to promote transdisciplinary projects that generate social infrastructure that endures.

Panel: Building effective city-university partnerships for accelerating resilience implementation
Liliana Caughman, Fletcher Beaudoin, Lauren Keeler, Beatrice John, Philip Bernert

Liliana Caughman is a graduate research assistant at the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland University, who is behind the Resilience Infrastructure Planning Exercise (RIPE), where researchers, project managers and members of four city council bureaus (parks & recreation, water, environmental services, transportation) work together in cross bureau discussions and actions. Convening, context and capacity are the three main axes of this initiative. In this case, the university helped to put together the capacities and knowledge of the different actors of the city council bureaus in order to have a better understanding of the city and its challenges. Nowadays, this project is moving from a big action plan to a specific project under the umbrella of the Disaster Resilience and Recovery Action Group (DRRAG).

Urban resilience as learning: Building transformative capacity through game-based approaches in Tempe, Arizona
Lauren Keeler

Lauren Keeler is assistant research professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University which is part of the “CapaCity” initiative. Keeler uses collaborative games as a tool of building capacities. Future shocks & city resilience and AudaCity were two of the games implemented in the partnership between the city of Tempe, Arizona and the Arizona State University. The university is developing diverse projects in collaboration with different bureaus of the city council. However, while implementing them, a question about the means to align diverse assets towards a common goal based on the city government’s aspirations has remained unanswered.

City-wide sustainability visioning and real-world laboratories, City of Lueneburg, Germany
Beatrice John, Philip Bernert

Philip Bernert is research fellow at the Faculty of Sustainability at the Leuphana University of Lueneburg. The CapaCity initiative that is being held by this university is the Lueneburg 2030+, which is a transdisciplinary research held by local actors, managers of the city’s sustainability department, and faculty and students of different fields. They worked together in partnership based on respect, appreciation and trust. The 2030+ project has been implemented in three phases: “Develop” with 25 visions proposed, “Planning” that created 17 measures, and finally “Real world implementation” with 8 interventions in the city. This project is rethinking the research process from a target knowledge perspective to a transdisciplinary knowledge action.

Resilient Planning Implementation: the Case of the Politecnico di Torino University Campus
Caterina Barioglio, Daniele Campobenedetto, Giulia Sonetti

Caterina Barioglio, Daniele Campobenedetto and Giulia Sonetti were part of the transdisciplinary team of the Politecnico di Torino that developed the 2016 Master Plan for Torino. The Master Plan was a sharing tool that promoted multi-stakeholders interactions, which was based on a circular process method incorporating diverse requirement frameworks (needs, technical issues, strategies) and project scenarios (teaching, timing and procedures, business plan). The Master Plan Method designed shared-need frameworks and built shared urban visions. While developing the 2016 City Master Plan, the team faced some challenges like understanding the city’s built heritage, the necessity to incorporate new and different needs to the urban context and the lack of space for new developments. Some of the tools used to address these challenges were: decision making through problem mapping, dialogue with technicians while using different types of drawings, design actions considering spaces and systems and low budget interventions. 

Creative partnerships for emergency solar charging stations
Beth Ferguson

Beth Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Design at The University of California Davis and director of Sol Design Lab, a design/build studio that specializes in solar charging stations and public art, and promotes the implementation of technology as a tool to develop and promote new mobility strategies. The electric drive solar kiosk, is one of the projects promoted by this studio. It is an innovative combination of solar technology, energy storage, public art and civic place making.  This kiosk provides energy to charge electric bikes, wheel chairs, scooters and mobile electronics. It was developed by the University of Texas, but now it has been implemented in the city of Austin under a partnership of Sol Design Lab with the city council. This project seeks to “disrupt” the use of car while promoting solar micro-mobility and resilient place-making. Ferguson argues the need to change our perception about transportation, understanding it as a service and not as a product. The author acknowledges that technology-based projects similar to the electric drive solar kiosk follow a discriminatory platform and that it is a gap that should be addressed in future researches.