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Unit information: City Futures: Migration, Citizenship, and Planetary Change in 2020/21

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Unit name City Futures: Migration, Citizenship, and Planetary Change
Unit code UNIV10005
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kirk Sides
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

A trailer is available for this unit here and social media shorts here

This interdisciplinary unit explores a series of questions: How urban spaces shape our ideas of citizenship and belonging? How a rapidly changing planet is shifting our conceptions of what constitutes a city? How we construct cities, who lives in them, how we define their boundaries, as well how we imagine cities and our relationship as a species to them? We will interrogate how the structural dynamics of cities both produce social and economic displacement, but also act as spaces of refuge for immigrants of all kinds, creating a continually shifting terrain of extra-political belonging.

City-spaces are also some of the most notoriously polluted and polluting infrastructural configurations on the planet, while ‘smart cities’, vertical forests, ‘cybercities’ and green-tech hubs are offering some of the most progressive solutions to urban living today. We will consider how cities are both contributing and responding to global climate change, and what this means for how people live in and imagine life in urban spaces. Looking at both specific instances of regional migrations to cities, but also at global trends in migration to urban spaces over the last two hundred years, the unit offers students the chance to consider different narratives of human life in the modern era through the lens of urban space.

The unit will bring together a range of materials, from policy reports on urban planning, and migration, as well as environmental and geological studies on human induced climate change, to science fiction, cli-fi (climate fiction) and city-writing, in order to consider how cities are located at the centre of our shifting theories – both scientific and creative – about what it means to belong to and belong on a changing planet.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Display, through written reports and presentations, an introductory knowledge of urban studies and writing on cities.
  2. Introductory understanding of contemporary discourses on environmental history, citizenship, and migration.
  3. Ability to collect a range of materials and sources, from textual to sociological and ethnographical, as well as to use these materials to write reports and in the creation of final video projects.
  4. Engage with unit assets, textual and material collected by students, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
  5. Participate in student-led learning and project-oriented assessments, such as video presentations.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Information

Bi-weekly (twice a month) workshop reports - 500 words each; 5 reports in total - to create a portfolio of reflection on each of the broad unit themes. (50%). [ILOs 1-5].

One group video presentation (5-10 minutes) (50%) to be uploaded to course website [ILOs 1-6].

Videos will be displayed as part of a one-day mini-conference at the end of the course. Students will present their video-projects, speak to audience about the making of these, as well as review their peers' projects.

Reading and References

Abdumalique Simone and Edgar Pieterse, New Urban Worlds: Inhabiting Dissonant Times, 2017 Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, 2011. Martin J. Murray, The Urbanism of Exception: The Dynamics of Global City Building in the Twenty-First Century, 2017. Anna L. Tsing et. al., The Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts/Monsters of the Anthropocene, 2017. Johannesburg: Elusive Metropolis, Sarah Nuttall, Achille Mbembe, and Abdumalique Simone, 2004. Teju Cole, Open City, 2014.