Conference Programme

A PDF version of this programme is available to download here: Conference Programme 2014

Thursday 11 December

8:20 Tea/Coffee and Registration

9:00 Introduction and Welcome from Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice Chancellor, University of Oxford

9:10 Successful Cities: Prosperous but unequal?

Over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. This rapid urbanization can bring prosperity; however, a strong economy doesn’t always trickle down to the citizens that need it most. How can policymakers create robust economies that also transform their cities into places where people want to live and work? From improving standards of living and providing affordable housing, using new types of technology and data to improve systems, and inspiring citizens to interact with their cities and others – what makes a city successful?

11.00 Tea/Coffee Break

11.30 ‘Deep dive’ parallel sessions

1. Housing and Slums: Build anew or regenerate?

New urban centres are rising from villages, and cities are expanding at unprecedented rates. What can governments do to provide affordable housing as the population increases, and is it possible to grow a city without slums? In the case of slums, do major developments do more harm than good?

2. High tech cities: How can we harness digital innovations to inform, engage and influence citizens in their urban futures?

From open data to big data and from smart city sensors to social media streams, cities are finding new ways to collect and harness data, engage their citizens and inform policies for development. Digital technologies have proven incredibly effective in unlocking the potential for municipal leaders and citizens alike to share information, deliver more efficient services and mobilise communities into action on issues for the public good. But are there downsides to this growing dependence on the digital world? Are cities making themselves vulnerable as they rely more and more heavily on sensors, data analytics and the online engagement of their citizens?

3. Revitalizing the City: How do urban spaces inspire us?

For thousands of years cities have helped inspire citizens. But cities are also often messy places, with overcrowding, pollution, lack of jobs and opportunities, and sometimes legacies of violent social conflict. Do these factors contribute to a generalized loss of love for our cities and if so, how can we seek to revitalize the city? What are some cities doing to foster a sense of community and democratic engagement amongst their citizens, and what role can art, architecture, and urban planning play in this process?

12:45 Lunch

13.45 Insights from parallel sessions

14.00 Sustainable Cities: Can urban leadership on climate change make a difference?

Cities will undoubtedly feel the full force of climate change: from the impact on the food supply, to worsening air quality and pollution, and increased instances of natural disasters. Do city leaders have the power to make a positive difference against climate change? In the case of a rapidly urbanizing planet, is sustainable growth a luxury that most cities cannot afford?

15.15 Tea/Coffee Break

15.40 ‘Deep dive’ parallel sessions

1. Feeding Cities: Can agriculture keep up with urban demand?

Growing urban populations and shrinking green spaces call for rethinking the modern food chain: producing, delivering, and consuming food. Can the scientific research, policy, and farming communities come together to find a way to meet this challenge?

2. Bike, Walk, Bus: Are we ready for the future of transport?

Reducing emissions is a key priority for governments worldwide, with transportation as a critical focus. What policies will encourage mass public transport and other green options, such as electric cars, public bicycles, and walkable cities? Alongside the environmental benefits, is there a financial incentive for cities and citizens to use these alternatives?

3. Superstorms and Sinking Islands: Can we become more resilient to natural disasters and climate change?

The effects of climate change - in everything from rising sea levels to extreme weather - mean that cities will need to adapt. Can policymakers and urban planners build cities that are more resilient to natural disasters and change?

16.50 Insights from parallel sessions

17.10 The Mayor of Medellín in conversation with the Dean

For further reference and background information on this session, we encourage attendees to read more on the revitalization of Medellín here:

18.00 Drinks Reception

18:45 First day of conference ends

Friday 12 December

8:20 Tea/Coffee and Registration

9.00 Rethinking Cities: Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Educated Cities

Reinvigorating cities calls for new ideas and innovation. How can policymakers and non-profits work together to encourage community involvement, foster economic resilience, and provide high quality services – such as healthcare, education, and safety – for all citizens?

10:20 Tea/Coffee and Networking Break

10.45 ‘Deep dive’ parallel sessions

1. Sick Cities: How is urban healthcare working to turn the tide against infectious & chronic diseases?

Effective urban health policy assumes increasing urgency as cities continue to grow and flourish. How can policymakers act more innovatively to tackle such issues as HIV-AIDS, the outbreak of infectious diseases, and chronic conditions?

2. Opportunity for All: Getting systems to work, from education to employment

Education is key to successful and sustainable development. It is also critical to growing a highly capable and innovative workforce. How can city leaders build effective educational and employment systems that attract economic investment and provide widespread opportunities for all citizens?

3. Cracking Down on Crime: Can new methods of policing keep us safe?

Over the past fifty years, policing has undertaken many different strategies to tackle crime, combat extremism, and improve safety and welfare for urban residents. Which approaches have met with success? Has the arrival of new technologies changed anything? Moreover, what can be done to improve citizens’ trust and legitimacy in the police and security services?

11.50 Insights from parallel sessions

12.05 Innovating Governance: Smarter technologies for better policies?

Many people are turning to new technologies as the providers of solutions for governance challenges. It seems to offer the magic key to delivering more – and more effectively – for less. But how far has modern technology changed the possibilities and responsibilities of governance? And what have we yet to learn for truly innovating governance?

13:15 Conference ends – Lunch is served

14:30-16:00 BSG information session on MPP and DPhil courses 

Participants are warmly invited to join our information session where faculty, staff and students will share some insights about what it’s like to study at BSG and how to make a successful application.