W1 Day 4 - Designing a pedagogy for urban inclusion

After two very productive days held at different sites in Sheffield, day four of the DESINC workshop brought the group of participants back to the Arts Tower at Sheffield School of Architecture. The day focused on ‘Designing a pedagogy for urban inclusion’ as a theme, and included the contribution from one of the project’s partner (ASF-International) and Goran Vodicka, a PhD Researcher at the department of Landscape and Tutor at the School of Architecture, University of Sheffield.

The morning activities were facilitated by ASF and started with two presentations that gave an insight into the organisation’s work, first with Emily Wright (ASF-UK) presenting an ‘Introduction to Challenging Practice’ - an independent learning programme which engages with the challenges of inclusive cities and sustainable urban development. Secondly Lucia del Cano (ASF-France) looked at one of ASF-France’s current projects in Marseille (Plaidoyer pour la stabilisation) as an entry point to discuss current issues around inclusion and design in French cities and beyond.

Following the presentations, and in light of the previous talks, conversations and activities, the group was asked to look back and critically reflect on what had been learnt and experienced throughout the workshop so far. Furthermore, they were asked whether that would have an impact on the definitions of ‘Inclusion’ that had been collectively put forth up on Day 1. The group widely agreed that the previous list of items was generally too positive and failed to successfully capture the challenging nature of defining inclusion in an urban setting. The activity was thus very successful in proposing a renewed working definition of ‘inclusion’ to be used across the project.

The morning session also focused on the project’s theory of change and on discussions about the overall impact of the project. The aim of the former was to reflect upon the potential social value and impact of this work. If the underlying goal of the project is to create more inclusive cities for refugees and migrants, what change can we make in the field of pedagogy to help make this happen? Participants were grouped into partner teams and were firstly asked to reflect on the different scales of intervention, starting with the ‘learners’ and expanding outwards into institutional and city scales adapting as relevant for their respective institution/organisation. The teams then collectively reflected on what changes would be required in order to develop and implement a pedagogical framework in line with the objectives of the project and what that entailed at the level of each scale.

The discussions on the pedagogical aspects of designing inclusion carried on during the afternoon. Firstly, Goran Vodicka shared his own experience of teaching diversity and inclusion in a transdisciplinary context through the module ‘The State of Sheffield: Global Perspectives on Local Issues’. This module - taught in The University of Sheffield between 2015-2017, and now discontinued - aimed to give students from across the Faculty of Social Sciences an insight into what it means to be a social scientist, and the nature of research. This was a transdisciplinary, project-based module in which students were immersed in real-life topical issues, and were asked to produce and present an artefact to share their own research findings. The aim was to encourage students to work in multidisciplinary teams in order to develop and share knowledge that would tackle key societal challenges. In the case shared by Goran, the focus of the project was on the notion of super-diversity, and the ways in which it manifested itself in a particular neighbourhood in Sheffield.

Goran further explained that this module was delivered through creative and engaging ways of learning which included for example:

  • Collaborative learning

  • Cross-disciplinary perspective

  • Exploratory approach

  • Hands-on ‘learning by doing’

  • Artefact focused

The development of the module was also heavily informed by student’s learning experience and feedback.

Following Goran’s presentation, the afternoon session addressed some of the practicalities of developing a pedagogical framework, one of the outcomes of this project. The afternoon activity was divided into 2 steps. First the groups looked at three questions to help guide the design of each institution's learning experiences: (i) Learners - what are the flows of learning we envision / who learns from whom...; (ii) Themes - what are we teaching / learning (e.g. diversity, ethics of engagement... etc) and (iii) Partners - with whom would be develop these L&T experiences.

The answers were then clustered in order to start looking at commonalities and differences. This was followed by the second activity, specifying for each of our Learners, what would be the intended Learning Outcomes, what are the L&T activities (or formats), and what would be the methods to assess the learning, based on the three elements of Bigg's model of Constructive Alignment.

The outcomes of this activity revealed that although coming from distinct institutional contexts, there are various overlaps between approaches and methodological strategies amongst partners. These overlaps will be further explored in the next few months, as the University of Sheffield team will coordinate the development of a shared pedagogical framework focusing on the inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers in urban areas.