As you may be aware, we recently canvassed Academicians to gain a better insight into levels and areas of engagement with the Academy. Past surveys have led to our Governance Review; our Code of Conduct; the establishment of our Young Urbanists Group; and, most recently, our new Friends category of membership. The findings of this are important to ensure that we grow both our engagement with you and our impact beyond the membership.
We are encouraged to see that respondents had a high level of engagement with AoU activities. Noted below are some of the key thoughts and ideas we received from Academicians, together with how we are already responding, or plan to respond.
As you may remember, there was a prize up for grabs for completing the survey: congratulations to Rosemary Bradley, who will get a free copy of the new Academy book, Urbanism – A compendium of the 75 Finalists of The Urbanism Awards 2009-13.
AoU Journal – Here & Now
The outlook of the magazine has changed over the last three years, which was met by a very positive response from readers. There was a high level of satisfaction with the Journal along with suggestions for future articles, particularly around issues of housing, an update on ‘Shared Space projects’ and reporting from AoU Events, such as the upcoming Milton Keynes Event in June 2017. It is also good to see more and more Academicians contributing to our magazine. Though some topics are very academic in their approach, we hope to balance that with publishing interesting practical examples of urbanism as well. Send further theme ideas to the editorial team at [email protected].
Regions and Nations network
There remains a strong wish to see more activity undertaken locally through the Regions and Nations network. This, however, needs support of ‘local’ Academicians. The suggestion to link with other networks and institutions, of which Academicians are often members as well, is a good one. Please bring forward ideas and possible links. The upcoming Milton Keynes Event in June was initiated and supported by ‘local’ Academicians. Suggestions for 2018 include an exhibition on the subject of HS2, which will travel to all HS2 station locations and involve local members.
The Regions and Nations network also benefits from the involvement of the growing Young Urbanists network, particularly outside of London. Contact is being made with any Academicians who have expressed a desire to assist with this development. Others are welcome to get involved by emailing Stephen Gallagher at [email protected].
The Urbanism Awards
There was a good, if steady, level of involvement by Academicians in the Awards process. In 2016 we refreshed the Awards process, which led to more time between the announcement of finalists and the visits, thus allowing more time to get involved and learn from the nominations and assessment reports. The Awards Ceremony was more compact but more affordable than before, and we have seen an enthusiastic response from those that attended. We have also learned where we can further improve and we hope it will increase involvement as it is regarded as one of the Academy’s primary and most well-known learning opportunities. Please follow the process and get involved in the upcoming assessment visits. It is a fantastic way to visit a place, get in-depth information and exchange ideas with colleagues.
The Annual Congress
Those who attended Congress in the past three years found the events enjoyable, informative and, by and large, good value for money. The 2016 Congress in London was a big success, measured by the responses received and the high level of participation. Understandably the AoU Congress in Denmark 2017 is regarded as more difficult to visit. It is however important for us to raise our profile in the rest of Europe, not least because of Brexit. The organising committee is acutely aware of keeping the cost of attending Congress as low as possible. Please take notice of the discount rates for Academicians and Young Urbanists, as well as early-bird rates. This is an event of international quality and greater levels of sponsorship would help – any suggestions of sponsors would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Stephen Gallagher at [email protected].
Nominating New Academicians
Respondents expressed a growing wish to nominate suitable people as potential Academicians. As an Academician, you are encouraged to put forward individuals whom you consider would reinforce the quality and diversity of the membership. To nominate and find out more about the process, visit: https://www.academyofurbanism.org.uk/nominate-someone-for-membership/
The AoU is also working on further expanding the type of memberships that are available, for example, corporate membership for companies, institutions and communities. Please follow information on this via our website.
Pressing Issues in Urbanism
In a repeat of last year’s list, the most pressing issues in urbanism today identified by respondents are housing, infrastructure and urban design. Infrastructure, for example, was one of the leading elements in our 2015 Birmingham Congress and will continue to be in 2017 and 2018. Housing was the focus of a recent edition of the Journal, and we have established. an AoU Housing Group, which aims to respond to the UK government’s White Paper. The Milton Keynes Event in June 2017 will focus on housing and communities, looking from the past to the future. The topic of urban design permeates many of the discussion we already have, and we certainly hope to channel this discussion through a more focused outlet. If you have any ideas of how we might use the experience within the Academy to capture or address issues in urban design, please contact Stephen Gallagher on [email protected].
Thank you for completing the membership survey. Hopefully you consider it a worthwhile exercise. It certainly provides the Board, executive team and Convenors with the right data to help plan and shape the most worthwhile activities.
However, whether you responded to the survey initially or not, we would be interested to hear any comments that you might have on the actions we have taken or propose to take as outlined above:
- Do you agree with the actions?
- Do you think other actions should be considered?
- In terms of continuing engagement would you like to become more involved with the Journal, with the R&N network, with the Awards, or in another activity?
Please let us know your feelings.
Henk Bouwman AoU
Director, The Academy of Urbanism