1 Making use of critical spatial theory
This free course sets out to help you understand the challenges faced by the places in which people gather together, live and work. It’s about cities, but more broadly it’s about places, and it’s about the processes that go on, in and around places. It’s about neighbourhoods, suburbs, villages, towns and how the people in these places find themselves responding to a changing and uncertain world.
Places face many different kinds of challenges, from the very large-scale problems like climate change or global economic instability, right through to everyday issues like the quality of street lighting or even where your cup of coffee comes from. Increasingly, many of these challenges are identified as having their causes in the nature of urbanisation itself.
For most places, the challenges they face are mostly not entirely of their own making and are sometimes not of their making at all. Even when everyone pitches in, we can’t always solve these problems locally. But neither are individual places helpless in the face of changes, large or small. Even when we set out from the most ordinary and everyday places, there is a great deal that can be done when it comes to engaging effectively with a changing world.
This course shows how different traditions of spatial theory, or of what we call critical spatial thinking, can help us understand the challenges that urban processes present to us all. These ways of thinking are helpful, not so much because they will solve our problems, but because they can help us ask the right kinds of questions.