Students’ workshop on research work on Urbanisation and Urban Poverty in India
Through innovative methods students were challenged to think beyond academic boundaries and to show the value of their work for common citizens and to look at the ground realities of planning. The objective of this workshop was to select the ten most promising and socially relevant theses from five departments (Urban, Regional, Environmental, Transport and Physical Planning) to be exhibited in a participatory public exhibition in November 2013 in Delhi.
At the beginning of the workshop on Friday morning, the project coordinator at SPA, Prof Neelima Risbud highlighted that this project is opportunity for students to develop relevant skills for their professional life and make their research useful to the broader public. Prof Chetan Vaidya, Director of SPA New Delhi and Dr Regina Dube, the head of Sustainable Urban Habitat of GIZ-IGEP, both highlighted in their entry statements the important role young professionals will play in the future of inclusive and sustainable urban development in India.
During the first day students participated in a variety of activities like simulations games and creative research mapping to show their communicative and creative skills and their understanding of the social relevance of their research. Four experts from Centre for Policy Research (CPR), SPA and GIZ and an international consultant formed the jury selecting the students. The jury members not only observed the students and qualified their work but also they engaged with them and acknowledged all their efforts and enthusiasm.
The first day of the workshop ended with the selection of ten students. The topics of their research work that will be presented at the public exhibition range from “Disaster risk reduction plan for East Delhi” to “Environmental implication of mixed land-use” and “Housing Finance Models for Slum Improvement”. These students started the preparations for this exhibition together with the curating team on Saturday, July 27, 2013, the second workshop day. On this day they had to find a way through a labyrinth in a playful activity and identify everyone’s special skills and talents. Through these activities team spirit was fostered and trust was built for facilitating a successful process of working together for this public event. Their main task was to create a storyline for the exhibition out of their diverse research topics.
At the end of the second day first ideas for innovative methods of science communication were collected and an Action Plan for the preparation of the exhibition was developed. Students and jury members highlighted in their feedback about this workshop that it was a unique experience for them. The participatory methods and the possibility for students and professionals to interact at an equal footing and exchange ideas were highly appreciated by all the participants. As one of the participating students put it, “This was something new. The most fun and interactive workshop ever attended.”
It was a successful starting point for developing an interesting, engaging and unique exhibition and the first academic boundaries have been crossed.