New research programme to improve evidence for community engagement

Good community engagement is held back by a skills gap and lack of evidence, according to Future of London’s recent survey of built environment professionals.

To address the problem, we have developed a new research programme with the Open University. The research project will improve evidence of the value of community engagement to built environment projects.

We have created an opportunity for a fully funded PhD candidate to assess approaches such as participatory design and co-design. They will develop recommendations for improving practice.

Highlighting the benefits of community led-design

Theo Zamenopoulos, professor of citizen-led design, and Dr Katerina Alexiou from the Open University, with Anna Odedun from Future of London, will supervise the doctoral researcher.

We aim to build a business case for community engagement that benefits all stakeholders. The researcher will work closely with members of the Future of London network within an academic research framework.

Engagement is often “tokenistic and superficial” says Dr Katerina Alexiou of the Open University

“Engaging the people who will be directly affected by developments in their local environment is essential for ensuring quality and sustainability of outcomes. However, engagement is often done in a tokenistic and superficial way which raises anger and opposition and can lead to costly delays.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Future of London to recruit a doctoral researcher who will help better capture and communicate the value of community engagement to developers and encourage them to invest time and resources to engage with local people in a meaningful way.

“Future of London has access to an extensive network of experienced built environment practitioners who will be a valuable source of evidence and will provide the opportunity to have real impact on the ground.”

Funding from Oxford and Cambridge University partnership

The programme is funded through the Open-Oxford-Cambridge doctoral training partnership (DTP).

We invite applications from candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Applicants should have a strong academic track record in a relevant field such as design, architecture or planning. Practical experience in the built environment sector or community engagement projects is desirable.

The deadline for applications is 11 January 2023. Find out more here.

Photo: Empowering Design Practices