Making the Case
How can an Urban Room help a university?
University researchers and educators can benefit from using Urban Rooms as mechanisms to form partnerships with community groups and initiatives, and with civic organisations. The Urban Room creates a space for encounter, conversation and collaboration in the local city or town, outside the often hard to access spaces of the university campus. This space can host educational activities, presentations, exhibitions, debates and workshops.
The Urban Room can become a catalyst and a venue for knowledge exchange if designed and operated as a space for mutually beneficial projects between the community and the university. The focus on the built environment lends itself well to the Urban Room being
hosted by architecture, urban design and planning departments, however other departments such as archaeology, education, history, computer science and public health may also benefit from the city collaborations that an Urban Room can foster. An Urban Room offers a situated project-based approach to teaching and research and so can encourage a more interdisciplinary approach to civic engagement.
An Urban Room can create the space for a university to:
foster civic relationships with communities, organisations and institutions in the city
enhancing students’ education and developing their employability skills through ‘live projects’ and action research
showcase the relevance of its research and teaching activities to its host city
develop opportunities to make a difference through socially- engaged research and teaching projects, leading to meaningful knowledge exchange and civic impact
put theory and research into practice, potentially opening up opportunities for follow-on resourcing for new research and teaching projects
develop opportunities for interdisciplinary research
evidence useful and inclusive civic and community participation for current and future funders
For a university to make the most of their Urban Room they should guard against extractive methods and ensure that the community relationships formed through the Urban Room are supported and sustained over the long-term.