14 SES 05 A, Multidisciplinary Approaches to Learning in and from Urban Spaces: Participatory Research and Innovative Practices - Part 2
After the elections in 2012, the city of Ghent announced its ambition to become the ‘most childfriendly city of Belgium’ – and maybe also Europe. But what exactly does it mean to become a (more) childfriendly city, and how can children be involved in thinking about and planning the childfriendly city? These questions underlie the multidisciplinary research project “KIDS” that combines expertise from education, social work, landscape architecture and social geography, together with representatives from the city department of Ghent. KIDS aims to develop a critical approach to the childfriendly city that doesn’t depart from universalistic checklists of childfriendliness that apply to each urban location and to all children, but looks for ways to involve children in the construction of the city and of urban space. In this approach, children appear as fellow urban citizens who are competent in studying their urban environment, confronting different perspectives on urban space and to deliberate about the future of the city. The childfriendly city can’t be prescribed out of general or theoretical assumptions about the child in the city, but requires a collective learning process in which children, other residents of a neighbourhood and policy makers are involved. In this presentation, we go deeper into the methodological implications of this approach. We have developed a number of participatory methods to involve children into researching the childfriendly city as a collective learning process. Inspired by a general framework of Million and Heinrich (2014) we developed methods to learn to observe and study the urban environment in alternative ways, to create dialogue about potentials and threats in urban spaces, and to intervene in urban spaces. More specifically we present a number of workshops that involved children from 7 – 16 years old in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Ghent.
- De Visscher, S. (2014). Mapping children's presence in the neighbourhood. In G. Biesta, M. De Bie & D. Wildemeersch (Eds.), Civic learning, democratic citizenship and the public sphere (pp. 73-90). Dordrecht: Springer. - De Visscher, S., & Bouverne - De Bie, M. (2008). Children's presence in the neighbourhood: A social-pedagogical perspective. Children & Society, 22(6), 470-481. - Million, A., & Heinrich, A. J. (2014). Linking participation and built environment education in urban planning processes. Current Urban Studies, 2(4), 335-349. - Unicef Innocenti Research Centre. (2005). The Child Friendly Cities Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.childfriendlycities.org/about/index.html
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