UrbanA community of practice

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An important objective of the UrbanA project is to establish a community of practice (CoP) on sustainable and just cities. The core of the project is a collaborative learning process, in the form of a series of arena events, that combines the competences of consortium partners with those of other researchers and practitioners involved in city making with whom the project builds strategic links. The UrbanA community of practice is both a core outcome and integral component of this learning process.

Definition of the UrbanA CoP

Like any other CoP, the UrbanA community of practice is defined in relation to three main elements:

A domain of shared interest
The domain of interest corresponds with that of the UrbanA project: justice and sustainability in cities
A community that shares this interest
The community of shared interests consists of all active participants in, contributors to and followers of UrbanA, its online and offline activities and/or outputs
The practice this community undertakes together
The community is constituted through ongoing engagement in UrbanA through the four Arena events, Arena side events and other project activities. Through these, participants will engage in learning processes that develop and/or deepen local, translocal and regional networks over the three years of the project – and beyond.

Structure of the UrbanA CoP

Figure 1. Levels of Engagement in the UrbanA Community of Practice.

The structure of the UrbanA CoP can be represented as a series of concentric circles, each indicating different levels of engagement (Figure 1).

At the centre of the UrbanA CoP are the project consortium, who are hands-on in all its aspects throughout its life. In the next circle we might place the UrbanA fellows, who commit to attending all four Arena events and to working across the boundaries between the UrbanA CoP and the professional and other city-maker CoPs in which they are involved. The third layer could consist of less committed participants, who attend one or more Arena events but do not take on the responsibilities of UrbanA fellows.

The fourth layer would comprise those more peripherally involved, by reading and using project outputs but not directly engaging with the process itself. A fifth, outer circle would include those indirectly affected by UrbanA through its influences on their own CoPs and upon cities where they live, work or visit.

Roles within the UrbanA CoP

Within the UrbanA CoP, different actors play different roles:

UrbanA Consortium
Constantly feed the CoP by organising and hosting Arenas, webinars and other events, generating and releasing communications materials (blog posts, podcasts, social media contact), contribute to online structures and platform
UrbanA Fellows
25 city-makers who will attend all four Arena events
Write blog posts, create content for UrbanA media channels, actively contribute to arena events, engage in CoP online platform discussion
UrbanA Participants
around 20 in-person and 40 online participants per arena, plus others actively engaged but not attending arenas
Actively contribute to arena events and related online activities, actively participate in CoP online platform
UrbanA Followers
More passive users who stay connected and updated through the UrbanA newsletter and social media channels
UrbanA Impacted
Not directly involved in the project, but experiencing its impacts in the cities where they live, work or visit

Coordination of the UrbanA CoP

The UrbanA CoP is mostly coordinated by consortium partners, with ICLEI and ECOLISE taking leading roles, supported by contributions from other partners. The main activities involved are organisation of Arenas and side events (online and offline), use of various communications and social media channels, and online facilities for knowledge co-creation and shared learning.

Arenas and side events
The UrbanA project is structured around a series of four Arena events organised by consortium partners and comprising the central activities of the community of practice. Each Arena event will take a blended format, i.e. combining onsite and online participation, and host around 60 onsite participants (15 consortium partners, 25 UrbanA fellows and 20 other participants) plus around 40 online participants. Various online activities - webinars, podcasts and blog posts - will precede and follow each Arena. In addition, local side Arenas are scheduled to take place in Lisbon on November 12th 2019 and Barcelone in late 2019 or early 2020.
Communications and social media
The CoP will be sustained on an ongoing basis by targeted communications activities and social learning processes. Communications will take place via the project website and social media channels. Specific media include tweets, social media posts, blog posts, podcasts and short videos. Additionally, individuals joining the CoP will be able to utilize a closed online platform that allows instantaneously communications, discussions, ideas sharing and gives people the opportunity to inform each other about relevant events. Finally, anyone is able to subscribe to the UrbanA newsletter, which has a dedicated section on the UrbanA CoP in order to encourage and support CoP members to read, share, and actively contribute.
Knowledge co-creation and social learning
The consortium has set up and maintains a knowledge co-creation infrastructure consisting of a Zotero document library and dedicated UrbanA wiki, both of which will be made available to CoP members. Social learning processes will include webinars not directly associated with specific arenas, but which could nonetheless interact with project materials available on its various online platforms. They might be organised by consortium partners to connect with their own networks, in collaboration with related CoPs or local networks, and/or in connection with related EU-funded and other projects.