Creating an Urban Manifesto
How can we make cities more equitable, inclusive and sustainable?
Students apply their theoretical learning about rights to the city and their own experiences of living in a city to co-create a manifesto for how to make a city more equitable, inclusive and sustain-able. Instead of students discussing in the abstract how cities could be transformed, they work through how this could happen in the world, using a city they know well.
This is an example of how I ran this activity. I invite you to use this as a guide and to experiment with your own class.
1. Becoming a reflective urban dweller (pre-activity)
In the week prior to the workshop, I asked students to pay more attention to their daily routines in Brighton and create an artefact that would reflect their lives and feelings about the city. During COVID-online teaching, I set up a padlet where students shared their memories of what their lives in Brighton had been like before COVID.
Here are longer reflections on this teaching adjustment where you can also find the padlet.
2. Explain: What is a manifesto?
At the beginning of the workshop, I briefly explained manifestos as statement of ideals and intentions, setting out beliefs, aims, policies and visions. I also shared three (urban) manifesto examples (1, 2 & 3) with students to give them an idea of what manifestos can look like.
3. Introduce yourself as an urban dweller to your co-creators
I randomly selected students into groups of 3 or 4 students for the manifesto activity and asked them to introduce themselves to their fellow group members by way of their artefacts.
4. Co-create manifestos
I gave students a template as a starting point for their manifesto and asked them to incorporate what they have learned in the readings and class discussions about what makes a good and equitable city. I also asked them to bring in their own experiences of living in Brighton and to draw on ideas from the policy document.
5. Debrief and gallery walk
During in-person teaching, I finished the activity with a gallery walk where students placed their manifestos and artefacts on their tables. Student then took turns to visit each other’s tables, explain their creations and answer questions. In on-line teaching, the manifestos were shared on a padlet.
We believe - what are some fundamental principles you believe are important for Brighton as a livable city?
We envision - here articulate your vision for how life in Brighton could be made more equitable and inclusive
We are committed to - what actions do you suggest to take and how will you motivate the readers of your manifesto to join you?
Download Activity Guide
Section from the Creative Universities Book
These are the readings my students do for the classes connected to the activity
Amin, A. (2006). The good city. Urban studies, 43(5-6), 1009-1023.
Purcell, M. (2014). Possible worlds: Henri Lefebvre and the right to the city. Journal of urban affairs, 36(1), 141-154.
Schwittay, A. (2019). Designing urban women’s safety: an empirical study of inclusive innovation through a gender transformation lens. The European Journal of Development Research, 1-19. (this also introduces students to some of my own research)
World Charter for the Right to the City (World Social Forum 2005) (can link to this)
Here is an article on teaching with manifestos that might be helpful in preparing the activity.
Fahs, B., 2019. Writing with Blood: The Transformative Pedagogy of Teaching Students to Write Manifestos. Radical Teacher, 115, pp.33-38.