Going digital for 2020

Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,

As you all are acutely aware, the way we live and work has changed dramatically over the last month. Like all organisations that thrive on face-to-face relationships, we have had to rethink our programme of activities for the year to ensure that we maintain our network of sharing and learning.

While the Academy is still actively engaged in examining potential strategies which our Board and management team will implement for the remainder of 2020, I’m pleased to report that the Academy is going digital for 2020.

We are currently in the process of putting details together for our digital programme for this year. However, I can report that this will include:

The Urbanism Awards – Best of the Best
A refreshed programme for our digital year will look back at all our previous finalists to update our learning and celebrate those that have continued to improve.

AoU Spring Debate – 28 April 2020, 14:30-15:30 (BST)
Topic and call-out for speakers to be announced soon for our annual debate.

Affordable Housing Series – April to May
Building on our successful event in London in February, it is planned that the series, focussed on providing current thinking and practice on new models of affordable housing, will continue in our wider network. We are in the process of examining the potential of organising webinars in other English venues and Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

AoU Journal
We will be releasing the Spring edition of Here & Now online. Look out for webinars with expert speakers centred around the theme of the edition  – the climate emergency.

There are of course issues we cannot overcome and as such we have decided to postpone our Annual Congress, which was set to take place in September in Edinburgh, to the summer of 2021. We will plan some form of activity in September (in Edinburgh if permitted or online), but the Congress is simply too reliant on being immersed in a particular place with an equally inquisitive group of urbanists to hold online.

While we are of course deeply concerned by the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and safety of everyone across the world, this issue has forced our hand into trying new technologies that enable the Academy to transcend borders or geographical obstacles like never before. This represents not only an opportunity with which to overcome our short-term challenges, but a new way of sharing learning after some form of normality is finally restored. I strongly feel that this initiative to go digital will not replace our desire to meet face-to-face, but complement it.

If you are planning similar online activities and would like to share them with our network, please get in touch with Delano Bart-Stewart on dbs@academyofurbanism.org.uk.

I sincerely wish that you all remain healthy and well in the coming challenging months.

Tony Reddy AoU

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