Our cities are undergoing rapid transformations, but how can we plan future cities in light of climate change and growing populations? Although the public is regularly consulted, research shows that perspectives of young people are inadequately represented. So how can we get young people interested in societal development and what might their future cities look like?
In a series of activities run during the autumn, VA (Public & Science), researchers from Södertörn University and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden have been collaborating with Huddinge Gymnasium. Pupils at the school were given an opportunity to share their views on sustainable urban development, develop future visions for their local neighbourhoods, and actively engage in community development. These activities were part of a pilot project run by Tenacity, an EU project dedicated to developing and testing methods to foster collaboration between higher education institutions and their local communities.
The activities started on 29 September at ForskarFredag, Swedish Researcher’s Night, with a number of science cafés on sustainable urban development at Södertörn University. Young people from Huddinge Gymnasium and Skapa School discussed urban planning and what characterises a sustainable city together with researcher Mo Sarraf from RISE.
At the end of October, a workshop focusing on local urban development was run with an upper secondary school class from Huddinge Gymnasium. Guided by researcher Romina Rodela from Södertörn University, pupils were challenged to develop two different personas – one representing a young person today and another envisioning a young person in 15 years’ time. They were also tasked with proposing ideas on how local neighbourhoods could be developed based on these personas’ experiences.
The personas and future visions developed by the pupils were presented at a session run on 9 November as part of Södertörn University’s Innovation and Collaboration Days at the Innovation station. The event was also attended by representatives of organisations actively addressing local development issues, including; Maria Johansson, Huddinge muncipality; Karin Lekberg, Kulturlandslaget; Romina Rodela, Södertörn University; Mo Sarraf, RISE; och Michael Sköldeholt, BID Huddinge.
The event at Södertörn university was recorded and is available on YouTube. The pupils’ proposals for their future city are now accessible on the Tenacity project’s collaboration platform, where you can view and comment on the ideas, as well as contribute to the discussion.
The activities and pilot project address a well-known challenge – how to engage young people in the democratic process shaping their living environments, and foster dialogue with decision-makers. The Tenacity project aims to increase collaboration between universities and their local communities, as well as strengthen citizens’ involvement in societal development.
Please contact Maria Hagardt, Project Manager for Tenacity, if you would like to learn more about the pilot project ”My future city” or if you have any questions. The pupils’ ideas can be found on the Tenacity project’s collaboration platform.