Living the Global City: Citizenship, Culture, Well-being

This series comprised a diverse range of events – 52 in all – from more standard lectures and panels to participatory dialogues and events – and held at venues across the city and campus.

The main purpose was to engage the wider community in the issues associated with, and the underlying social justice of the World Urban forum 3 held in Vancouver in June 2006.

An important motivation was the example of this Department’s founder, the artist Bertram C. Binning, who, as a member of the Art In Living group, initiated serious policy actions on public housing in Vancouver at the end of the Second World War. And the series was designed to underline both the tremendous variety of issues and expertise relating to inclusive and sustainable urban development and the core importance of cultural perspectives.

The creative and performing arts have always been essential ingredients in humane urban settlement, much as the very idea of humanitarian civic society was written and imaged before it was ever, partially, realised.

The lectures, panels and dialogues, and performances thus included Stan Douglas talking on The Urban Condition – especially in Havana, Detroit and Vancouver – The Politics of Food, The Manipulation of Culture in the Selling of Market Housing in Vancouver, Questions of The Disposition and Use of Public Space, The Presence and Exclusion of First Nations and Women, and the Role of the University and City in Realising United Nations Millennium goals.

The series attracted the direct participation of over six and a half thousand people and through various forms of publicity connected well over a million in the city region and country. Perhaps most usefully it demonstrated the relevance of arts perspectives on supposedly technical problems and instrumental policy.

In addition, it provided a new model for UBC’s engagement with the community in addressing issues of great concern, not least by involving a group of undergraduate and graduate students with members of the community as Global City Navigators, based at UBC’s Learning Exchange at Vancouver’s downtown eastside.