Session: Community Sustainability

Community, Migration and Development Stream


Day 3, Parallel Session 3A: 11:00am – 12:30pm

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Lower Lecture Theatre, Level 1, Room 1

Chair: Dr Yaso Nadarajah (RMIT University)


People and the Planet 2013 Community and Sustainability: Towards a Discursive Approach

  • Presenter: Dr Judy Rogers (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: This presentation outlines a method for engaging with community and sustainability not as fixed categories but as subject to on going re-invention and change. It draws on narrative policy analysis and positioning theory, highlighting the storied nature of sustainability discourse. It argues that storylines are continuously negotiated through discourse where meanings can change through the emergence of new storylines that reorder understandings. Dominant storylines are, however, often so powerful that they are difficult to disrupt or to challenge, and so they take the place of evidence and proof  ‘…because their tightly storied characterisations, metaphors, and emplotments continue to underwrite and stabilise assumptions for decision-making’. The presentation demonstrates how dominant discourses about sustainability structure and limits the way in which the concept can be spoken and written about, highlighting in particular how the use of generalized language and cultural stereotypes masks underlying conflict. The aim of positioning theory is not to define new characters and new storylines but to reveal how positions, storylines and cultural stereotypes limit what can be spoken and written about.
  • About the presenter: Dr Judy Rogers is Program Director of the Bachelor of Design (Landscape Architecture), Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT. She lectures in the theoretical frameworks and environments stream within the Landscape Architecture program and has developed a number of university wide electives that have as their focus working with communities. Courses include the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail and Farming the Future. She also developed and continues to teach in a fully on-line elective – Challenges in Sustainability – a course that foregrounds interdisciplinary understandings and dialogue as key to education for and through (rather than about) sustainability. Her research interests focus broadly on both sustainability education and policy.  Her Phd employed narrative policy analysis as a way of revealing the power relationships embedded in sustainability talk and text. The thesis argues that if sustainability is to remain a worthwhile goal for all citizens and for government then ‘sustainability’research must do more than develop techniques and methods to measure, monitor and map sustainability as a way of ensuring compliance, and shift towards an understanding of sustainability that acknowledges that it is ‘aspirational’, contested and open to interpretation. 
Flora Salim A Tale of Two Cities: Towards the Pedagogy of Living Labs

  • Presenter: Dr Flora Salim (RMIT University)
  • Abstract: Cities, and questions of designing for the complex issues of cities, are wicked problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973). Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”. Since there is no opportunity to learn by trial-and-error, every attempt counts significantly. The living lab approach provides an opportunity for open innovation and co-creation with users or in the context of cities, the citizens. How can the living lab methodology be adapted as a pedagogical approach for designing in the context of urban wicked problems? Here we review an intensive transdisciplinary workshop in which multidisciplinary groups with participants based in Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh have addressed complex challenges in these two very different cities. The specific urban design research dilemmas that are addressed in the workshop are focused on transport, transit, and tourism. The aim is to find and communicate relevant data and information to frame a design proposition to improve inner- and cross-city travel in each city. The paper presents the investigation performed in the workshop and our findings from analysing the real issues conveyed by participants in the two cities.
  • Co-authors: Flora Salim (RMIT University), Margaret Hamilton (RMIT) and Jane Burry (RMIT).
  • About the presenter: Dr. Flora Salim is a Research Fellow at Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL), RMIT University. Her expertise is primarily in the area of context-aware computing, data modelling and analysis, and intelligent systems. She received her PhD in Computer Science from Monash University in 2009. Prior to her PhD, she was a senior application developer with a responsibility to design and develop scalable distributed media servers in a number of broadcasting/TV stations worldwide. She has a rich experience in empirical computational modelling, simulation, and visualization for addressing key urban issues, such as energy consumption, public transport, and road safety. She also has an experience in designing visual representations and tangible interactive prototypes for supporting collaborative decision making processes in urban design and planning.  She has published at least 40 peer-reviewed articles in significant international conferences, journals, and book chapters. She is a member of the team who won an ARC Linkage grant on integrating real-time information of public transport services and people movement in the city. She has secured other internal and external grants, including the IBM Smarter Planet Industry Skills Innovation Award 2010, the RMIT Ian Permezel Memorial Award 2010, Google Anita Borg Award, and Ian Potter Foundation Award.