Method: Themed Debates
Description of Method:
An event or series of events within an Urban Room programme where a specific theme is explored collectively. This usually comprises presentations from local experts, professionals in the field and campaigners advocating for a particular approach or action. After listening to the presentations participants will discuss the theme to reach a consensus, or at least a deeper understanding of the issues at stake. The theme could be a specific local issue or it could be about exploring how a global issue impacts on a local scale. It’s important to consider how you will disseminate and follow up the findings of the debate e.g. displayed in the Urban Room, advocacy to policy-makers, covered in the local press etc.
Purpose of Method:
Holding a themed debate creates a focus of attention in the Urban Room upon a specific issue, challenge or opportunity. It allows diverse and potentially conflicting opinions, ideas and voices to be heard and discussed within a safe, structured context. It reveals local knowledge on important issues and can help to develop support networks for campaigning, advocacy and action. There are few spaces in the city for people to come together to debate issues that impact upon their place and the Urban Room can fulfil an important role in offering such a space.
These debates should be disseminated widely so that as diverse a group of people can take part as possible. The invited speakers should also be diverse and drawn from community groups, local authority, academia, business and the public sector to present a broad range of opinions. Specific facilitation skills are required to organise, moderate and mediate these debates so that they are safe, respectful and constructive.
Hosted over a 5-week period SpACE (Space for Architecture, Carbon and Environment) led a series of exhibitions and events that ‘addressed the biggest issue of our time - the climate emergency - and how the built environment affects it’. Taking place in Edinburgh, SpACE coincided with the COP26 summit in Glasgow, with public and private events, debates, seminars and networking opportunities hosted at the pop-up SpACE.