We are very pleased to introduce Alex Aylett, SCI’s new Research Director. Based in Montreal, he is a sustainability researcher and consultant, and a Trudeau Scholar in the Department of Geography at the University of British Columbia. He has worked on urban sustainability in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Africa.
It is a huge pleasure for me to announce the launch of SCI’s new research program. Since our beginnings, SCI has helped urban practitioners learn from each other as we explore how to make cities truly sustainable. We’ve celebrated successes, but we haven’t shied away from discussing the many challenges that often lie behind them. For cities within the SCI network, these frank exchanges have led to successful innovations and, in some cases, transformative changes.
Adding a new facet to this work, our research program will make possible a deeper analysis of the rich experiences within the network. This will mean more detailed insights and greater exposure to research findings on urban sustainability for cities working with SCI. It will also mean that the work being done by SCI and member cities will enter the broader dialogue going on in research on urban sustainability.
Over the past six years I have worked as SCI’s senior research associate. I began as a PhD student, and at the time I was the first researcher to partner with SCI Network. That experience deeply shaped my research and my understanding of what it means to try to create sustainable and thriving cities.
We are living through an exceptional period of experimentation and innovation. Working with SCI allowed me to engage directly with the many tactics cities are using to redefine themselves in the face of overlapping environmental, social, and financial challenges.
As SCI’s Research Director, my role will be to expand the links between SCI and urban sustainability researchers, and facilitate the development of a research agenda tailored to the needs and interests of our network. A core part of this new effort is SCI’s Affiliated Researchers Program (ARP) which is also launching today.
The ARP is a collaborative initiative that brings together top-level international graduate students with the projects and expertise of SCI network member cities. Aimed at doctoral or masters students designing research projects focused on urban sustainability, the ARP gives students access to innovative urban sustainability leaders and projects. Following a competitive selection process, successful applicant work with SCI and local project staff to plan and implement their research program.
SCI provides Affiliated Researchers (ARs) with guidance and helps facilitate their research work on the ground. For their part, ARs feed their research back into the SCI network, providing analytical insights into the strengths, weaknesses, and larger context for work going on in SCI member cities. Our first AR is Afton Halloran a former SCI intern now based at the University of Copenhagen. Afton will begin her research on urban agriculture in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) in the new year, and you can look forward to the first of her research notes here next week.
More information on the research program will appear on-line in the coming months. In the meantime, please join with me in celebrating the launch of this new initiative and – of course – don’t hesitate to contact me with any comments or questions.