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Introduction: social innovation experience and action as a lead for research

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Stuart Cameron

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Stuart Cameron

In the research and teaching of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, involvement in three EU research projects – DEMOLOGOS, KATARSIS and SOCIAL POLIS – provided new opportunities for conceptually framing research on localities in the North-East of England. Two elements were especially important in this process. The first was the shared theorising of social innovation in urban and regional development. The second was an emphasis on scalar relations linking through from neighbourhood to national and European levels. Issue of de-industrialisation and neighbourhood decline are to the fore in Newcastle and a particular focus was the ‘social mix’ neighbourhood policies pursued there as in many other parts of Europe. These new insights fed not only into the research but also into teaching, especially through the intensive postgraduate programme European Module in Spatial Development Planning.

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Artur Da Rosa Pires, Carlos Rodrigues and Stuart Cameron

The ESDP network organised an Erasmus Intensive Programme (IP) almost every year between 1990 and 2014 based in a range of European countries, two or three successive years in each. These provided a multicultural learning experience, an intensive two-week studies of spatial development issues in the host city, for postgraduate students from across Europe. They worked in multi-national and multi-disciplinary groups supported by staff from universities across the network to research, report and make recommendations on these issues. The Erasmus IP was a major success among students, despite the undeniable heavy workload and the daunting challenges of harmonizing such diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds. Intellectually the success of the IP drew on the combination of the collaborative research and ethos of the ESDP network and the specific opportunities for learning from localities, for example the two IP events in Athens allowed a ‘before and after’ study of the impact of the Olympic Games on the city and the significance of mega-events in regeneration.