Continuing urbanisation comes, particularly across the global South, with new and intensified challenges around environmental and social sustainability. Goal 11 of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – represents the first time that cities have formally been identified as both crucibles of development challenges and the engines of development change. It nonetheless remains unclear how optimal urban outcomes are to be achieved, especially for cities where the pace of urban change is greatest, resources are most limited, the governance arrangements are complex and formal knowledge about how the city works is patchy. Yet, over the next decade or so, finding solutions to urban challenges that are most acute in the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America will disproportionately determine sustainable development outcomes for the planet as a whole.
The PEAK Urban programme aims to build skilled capacity for decision making on urban futures by: i) generating new research grounded in the logic of urban complexity, and ii) fostering new leaders that draw on different disciplinary perspectives to address the challenges found in the 21st century city.
The more than 40 research projects within the PEAK Urban programme will address four general questions:
- What do the traditions of modelling, institutional analysis and ethnography say, individually and collectively, about Prediction and projection in the city?
- How, in each city and across all geographical contexts, have socio-material systems generated new forms and structures to create an Emergent urbanism?
- How have distinct scientific conventions and the city as a whole Adopted knowledge that combines insights from different knowledge traditions?
- How does the PEAK platform maximise Knowledge exchange to build capacity in cities, nations and the multilateral system to deal with prediction and projection, with emergent urbanisms of socio material systems and with the imperative to adopt interdisciplinary knowledge?
Running from 2017-2021, this project had cross-divisional participation within the University of Oxford, implementing various study methods from each division, including the Centre on Migration, Policy and Diversity (COMPAS); the Mathematical Institute; the Transport Studies Unit; and The George Institute for Global Health. The project also partnered with international institutions, including Peking University, China; the African Centre for Cities (South Africa); the Indian Institute for Human Settlement (India); and EAFIT University (Colombia).