In 2016, a World Bank report called the urbanisation in South Asia, including India, as “messy and hidden”, constraining the concentration of economic activity that could bring about faster improvements in prosperity and living conditions. Institutional difficulties in dealing with pressures on infrastructure, basic services, land, housing and the environment lie at the heart of the relative lack of liveability of the cities in India, leading urbanisation and development towards stagnation. In response, technology and policy led interventions by the Government and businesses provide an alternative to set the momentum in the right direction to tackle some of these difficulties. The effectiveness of such interventions lie in embracing the diverse and complex situation in an inclusive manner, and in articulating the different constituents’ interpretations of the policy for its implementation. In this endeavour, universities can contribute by leveraging their knowledge production role to understand and explain the varied meanings that the diverse constituents of urbanisation derive from such policies, and can mediate some of the inherent conflicts faced by constituents involved in policy implementation. Universities can help to critically understand the challenges, opportunities and implications of such policies in an objective and impartial manner. Lastly, universities can take a leading role to not just to build adequate human capital needed to deal with urbanisation but also institutionalise learning in the social and cultural context of the cities. If universities and cities can work cohesively, urbanisation processes can potentially move from being “messy and hidden” to “articulated and intended”.

The UCL Grand Challenges of the University College London is inviting participation in workshops that aim to identify and set an agenda for future research in areas where universities and cities can work together. Faculty members, students, researchers, policy makers, city officials and practitioners can register in either of the following three ways. 

A. Submit your paper/project

Submissions are invited on academic or policy or practitioner works on topics related to urban transformation , or, geography , politics , public policy , management , science & technology , economics , social sciences , and other topics that has the potential for collaboration between universities or academic/research institutions and cities for urban transformation . The collaboration can involve data collection, programme formulation, implementation, impact evaluation and policy framing. Submissions that does not have collaboration with cities but has implications or applications for urban transformations will also be considered. Click here to see a list of tentative topics to be covered . 

Interested participants may submit research proposals/ideas, studies or projects that are either work-in-progress or close to completion stage. Note that a full paper is not necessary for submission. You will be allocated 15 – 20 min to present your work. Download the call for submission here.

The workshop will provide an opportunity to interact with practitioners and policy makers and, to explore collaboration that includes access to data/ conducting field experiments/ authoring joint articles/ involvement in advisory or consulting  projects.

B. Attend as a participant 

Participants does not have to submit a paper/proposal but can attend the workshop by registering. Participants can look forward to the following from the workshop:

  • Hear from and network with leading researchers or practitioners.
  • Gain a perspective on engaging with cities/universities in urban transformation programmes.
  • Know about how to interpret urban transformation policies, conflicts and its implications.
  • Understand about collaboration frameworks for urban transformation between cities and universities, and implications of the same.
  • Understand about implications of the above on social learning, cultural transformation and human capital development of cities.

C. Attend as a student (special session)

A special sessions is organised meant exclusively for students to present their proposals or ideas or work-in-progress. See here for details.

See Schedule & Speakers section to know about eminent personalities invited to speak at the workshop. 


to submit abstract or attend as a participant or student.

Last date for submission of abstract: 5:00 PM IST, Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Participants can register for either of the two venues where the workshops will be conducted. There is no registration fees for the workshops. 

Date   :  10 AM, Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Venue: National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore

Date   :  10 AM, Friday, 11 May 2018
Venue: Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune

Please note that there no fee for registration or attending the workshops.
There is no funding available for the participants for travel and stay.

About UCL Grand Challenges : http://www.ucl.ac.uk/grand-challenges

The workshops are supported by the UCL Grand Challenges, which are a key part of University College London’s (UCL) Research Strategy. The Grand Challenges convene and cultivate cross-disciplinary collaborations that explore joined-up solutions in six areas related to matters of pressing societal concern: Global Health, Cultural Understanding, Sustainable Cities, Human Wellbeing, Justice and Equality and Transformative Technology.

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Previous editions
November 2017: Events and updates from across the Grand Challenges