Urban Research Centre

Focus and Themes

Focus

Urbanisation is among the most significant contemporary social and environmental transformations occurring on earth. The Urban Research Centre provides a focus at UWS for interdisciplinary research and scholarship on cities and regions.  The Centre aims to advance theoretical and applied knowledge on urban management, liveability and resilience. This is a critical agenda for a world that is both rapidly urbanising and fast depleting the resources required to sustain urban and regional lives.

The Urban Research Centre is situated in Sydney, Australia. As a ‘global city’ deeply connected to international flows of people, information, capital, goods and energy, Sydney is a vital site for researching many of the generic challenges arising from social, cultural, economic and environmental change in the contemporary world. Our focus also extends to smaller, regional centres undergoing urban transformation, both growth and decline.

Greater Western Sydney  comprises half of Sydney’s metropolitan area and population.  It is not only a significant urban region in its own right, but also is integral to the processes underpinning Sydney’s ‘global city’ status, and is therefore a critical space in which Sydney’s  transformations and challenges and challenges are played out. We have a keen and vested interest in understanding urban and regional dynamics in Greater Western Sydney, and remit to provide service to the region and its people.

The Urban Research Centre consolidates the University of Western Sydney’s academic strengths in Human Geography and in Urban and Regional Planning. We simultaneously embrace the teaching-research nexus, advance a program of world-class research, and pursue an agenda of strong policy and community engagement.

Themes

The Urban Research Centre has concentrated its agenda on a small number of interlaced research themes. These are not mutually exclusive but can be considered separate lenses for examining urban management, liveability and resilience. The themes which underpin our vision are:

1. Critical studies of housing and liveability
This theme includes work on housing affordability and provision; tenure, ownership and finance models; the meaning of home and homelessness; and understanding and enhancing urban liveability for individuals and communities. These are key issues in Greater Western Sydney and across Australia, and this theme is strongly supported by our involvement in the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).

2. Economies and regional infrastructure
This theme encompasses research on neo-liberalism and economic change; spatially uneven development; local enterprise; infrastructure planning and regulation; transport and mobility; and sustainable and alternative growth trajectories. This is multilayered work that examines what kinds of growth might promote resilience – economically, socially and ecologically. The development and management of infrastructure is also linked to questions of liveability.

3. Geographies of difference and rights to the city
This theme critiques spatial manifestations of social and cultural relations of urban life, including migration, diversity and racism; gender and sexuality; and human/nature relations. This is multi-dimensional work that interrogates questions of individual and community resilience, social cohesion and citizenship. Practically, this work aims to understand how investment in and regulation of the social and material environment.