Urban Futures is a workshop based course which is driven by experts and practitioners who explore facets of the urban with the uncertainties and needs of the future society in mind. The workshop course focuses on broadly thinking about the future of the world — from the point of view of how India views the changing world and how the changing world views India.
We understand future here not as a temporal category of a distant future that is only to be speculated but as a temporal reality which emerges from the present and is shaped by us and systems around us. Hence to engage with the future is to reflect on some of these emergent trends, their significance and place ourselves in relation to these. It therefore requires understanding the idea and nature of change — both social (mobilizations, movements) and economic (new economies, associated governance challenges) and the embedding the self, its place and possibility, in the larger narrative of change.
Resource Person – Aditi Surie
Students participated in a workshop conducted by Aditi Surie, Sociologist, IIHS. Aditi's own research focuses on shifting modes of labour within digital platforms, and understanding the ways in which labour and technology interface with each other in these economic models.
The workshop was focused centrally on exploring urban futures through computational thinking and algorithmic management as tools of future technologies. The goal of this workshop is put students in the role of computer scientist or engineer (creator); specifically not to teach everyone to think like a computer scientist, but rather to teach them to apply these common elements to solve problems and discover new questions that can be explored within and across all disciplines, thereby putting them in the position of creator, to imagine how technology can be used to adapt, change, transform cities, city processes and outcomes.
At the end of the 5-day long workshop, students made presentations on the ways in which their chosen subject area could be impacted by platform technology. They presented what the future of service provision would look like, how its actors would be engaged, and its implications for governance.
Resource Person – Leo Saldana
The Centre organized a panel discussion through which students learn to identify contemporary urban issues, analyze them, and offer alternative solutions that emerge from the communities that live, work and make the city. Leo Saldanha from Bangalore’s Environmental Support Group who work on various environmental conflicts in the city of Bangalore.
One of the major points raised during the discussion was the thorny issue of what should be the framework upon which community struggles for a right to the city should be based- should it be the notion of "sustainable development" that has become increasingly problematic because of its appropriation and (mis) use by different stakeholders or should struggles be based on the notion of the "just city"?