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Urban studies pub nights bring world issues to the table

Grad students build a network to facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration around emerging global topics important to urban life
November 7, 2016
Urban Studies Pub Night Panels II, Urban Resilience, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Last Defence Lounge.

Urban Studies Pub Night Panels II, Urban Resilience, Nov. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Last Defence Lounge.

With the support of the Graduate Student Association (GSA), a group of graduate students came together to form The Urban Research Network (TURN). Since 2015, these students have leveraged their diverse backgrounds to create new perspectives and approaches for studying and thinking about urban life. To drive this initiative forward, TURN has come up with a series of events to connect all students at the university and to encourage collaboration across disciplines, with faculty members and with professionals working in the community.

Their first event, a panel they dubbed Urban Studies Pub Night Panel, was an immediate hit, prompting the group to add more panels throughout the year. Launched last September, the informal setting of the Last Defence Lounge provided a relaxed atmosphere where undergrad and grad students gathered to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of the Smart City movement with faculty and students who specialize in the area.

Considering questions around personal data and privacy, how technology improves or limits public dialogue, and how innovation can be implemented, the event drew more people than expected, leaving standing room only. The evening led to a lively discussion that included Pokémon Go as an example of all that is valuable and problematic with smart cities and block chain as a promising model for integrating community and technology.

Ultimately, TURN seeks to connect the campus to current global events and engage students to think about the world beyond our immediate community while contributing their own ideas among a group of experts. The next panel in the series is scheduled to coincide with the opening of the 22nd Conference of the Party (COP22) to consider how climate change is already a reality and how urban areas must address the increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather. The panel will also be part of a virtual conference broadcast live to urban planners and researchers across the globe as part of World Town Planning Day.

The panellists include Maha Al-Zu’bi, PhD candidate, Faculty of Environmental Design who will open with a short presentation on issues surrounding urban resilience in Jordan. Al-Zu’bi will be joined by Christine Arthurs, director, Resilience and Infrastructure with the City of Calgary; Sasha Tsenkova, professor, Faculty of Environmental Design; and Caroline Hachem-Vermette, assistant professor, Faculty of Environmental Design. The panel discussion will be followed by an informal networking event.

All students, staff and members of the Calgary community are invited to attend this second Science in the Pub panel on Nov. 7 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Last Defence Lounge on the third floor of MacHall. Those interested in joining the discussion are encouraged to register soon, as space is limited.