Hello and welcome to our blog documenting our experience of the (Un)Urban strand of the Global Citizenship Programme.
We started off the day together with the rest of the participants of the Programme at the opening plenary which included some introductory talks regarding what we could expect over the next two weeks. We heard from three students who had participated in various strands last year who were very positive and encouraged us to make the most of this opportunity.
Afterwards we split off into our strands and we were welcomed by Professor Henrietta Moore who gave an interesting talk which considered prosperity, well-being and cities. I was struck particularly by her emphasis on how prosperity encompasses more than just wealth and income but health, education, and ‘feeling and knowing that life is worthwhile’. She also extended well-being to an issue greater than just how an individual feels, but how they experience community. Dr Tuukka Toivonen then spoke about the definition of global citizenship, which expanded what we had previously heard from Dr Tim Beasley-Murray about a (passive) recognition of our inter-connectedness with the whole of humanity, to a problem-solving activity in human-centered way, with the implication that ‘being a global citizen’ is something that can be learned by taking empathetic action.
In the afternoon we split off into smaller groups and met our Navigators, Tony McKenzie and Will Churchill, who will be leading and working with us over the next two weeks. To get us familiar with other team members and thinking about green spaces and wellbeing, we spent some time in the green spaces near to UCL, observing who they were used by and how they were used. We were encouraged to be creative in how we collected this information, including voice memos, photos, sketches, plans tallying the number of people walking through vs sitting down etc. We then presented our findings to the group and reflected on our experience. The group generated interesting ideas about the green spaces we had experienced- how were they limited by rules or enclosed by buildings, how much of an emphasis was placed on aesthetic versus function? We ended the day with encouraging words about our initial experiences, excitement for the project ahead and hopes for good weather.