University of Oxford City Debates on “Urban Governance and its Discontents” to be held on 18-19 February 2016


The yearly conference on  “Urban Governance and its Discontents” will be held on 18-19 February 2016 at the University of Oxford. A cornerstone initiative of the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, the conference will build on the long tradition of public debates here, and will bring together urban thinkers and practitioners to discuss the unprecedented challenges of urbanization to life on this planet in the 21st century.

We are proposing a new format for presenting and elaborating thinking on what cities are and what they should be. The ‘University of Oxford City Debates’ will place scholars who are on the cutting edge of global urban research face-to-face with established and innovative practitioners—architects, activists, policy makers, and artists. Through a series of rigorous yet accessible public dialogues, practitioners and scholars will grapple with the intellectual and material implications of their interventions and theories on contemporary cities. We hope to encourage production of simultaneously visionary and grounded strategies for the future of city life. And we plan for a media push that will reach broad audiences worldwide. The conference will be organized around four central debates:

Making the city: Spontaneous vs Planned? Challenges for the 21st century.

Governing the city: Where do infrastructure, democracy, and social justice meet?

Each debate will be preceded by a small panel of academics and practitioners presenting papers that speak to the same key issues as the respective debates. Building on the long-standing Oxford tradition of public debate, we hope to encourage productive engagement between intellectuals and practitioners. We believe that such engagement is too often missing from discussions of the city and it is crucial not just for the future of cities, but of human knowledge more generally.

We are now finalizing the list of debaters. We will circulate a Call For Papers around 1 June 2015. We hope to finalize the program by the end of July.

We encourage you all to submit a paper proposal, or to simply attend; your participation would be an invaluable contribution, and we sincerely hope to see many of you there.