From Andrew Burrell, Director, The Academy of Urbanism
Survey of Academicians 2015
As you may be aware, we recently canvased 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 were two prizes up for grabs for completing the survey: congratulations to Atam Verdi, who will get a free copy of the new Academy book, Urbanism – A compendium of the 75 Finalists of The Urbanism Awards 2009-13, and Patrick Richard who has a free place at Congress 2016.
AoU Journal – Here & Now
There was a high level of satisfaction with the Journal along with suggestions for future articles, particularly around issues of housing, design review and the politics of urbanism. Our next edition will focus on housing. As the Academy’s housing group becomes more active, this will likely become a reoccurring theme both within the Journal and in other activities – especially as this topic area is so vast and so influential on the quality of our towns and cities. Send further theme ideas to the editorial team at [email protected].
Regions and Nations network
There was a strong wish to see more activity undertaken locally through the Regions and Nations network. Although relatively new, the R&N network is working to better establish itself. All Academicians are encouraged to get involved either with their existing group or by helping to set up a group in their area. The future of the network will benefit from the involvement of the growing Young Urbanists network, particularly outside of London. Contact is being made with any Academicians who 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. However, following feedback from the survey and elsewhere, the process is this year being simplified in order to increase the length of notice that Academicians receive regarding the dates of assessment visits, thereby permitting a greater level of engagement. This is also important as it is one of the Academy’s primary and most well-known learning opportunities.
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. 2016 is our 10th Anniversary and will be a celebration of our learning over the decade. The cost of attending Congress remains an issue for some and we are pleased to report that ticket costs have remained relatively static over the past five years. We have also introduced 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 consider 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/
Pressing Issues in Urbanism
The most pressing issues in urbanism today, as noted by respondents, are housing, infrastructure and urban design, echoing to a certain extent the responses on ideas for the Journal. Infrastructure, for example, was one of the leading elements in our 2015 Birmingham Congress, but we aim to explore this further still. Housing will feature in the next edition of the Journal, and through the establishment of the AoU’s Housing Group. The topic of urban design permeates many of the discussion we already have, and we certainly hope to channel this discussion into 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 the survey 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’d 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.
Andrew Burrell AoU
Director, The Academy of Urbanism