The Critical Urban Governance (CUG) Program aims to shape public debate, create new knowledge and provide an inclusive space for discussion and the development of new governance practices to address the challenges facing contemporary cities. 

Our key themes/projects are:

  • Policies for a just city 
  • Emerging modes of urban governmentality
  • Critical urban infrastructure
  • Urban renewal and displacement
  • Social innovation at the local scale
  • Transforming climate governance
  • Eco-collaborative housing
  • Inclusive urban governance
  • Politics of urban greening
  • Biodiversity offset policy and decision-making
  • Transitions to a low carbon society
  • Co-design and biodiversity governance 
  • Urban governance and obligations to Treaty
  • Decolonisation and urban / built environments
  • Sovereignty and dwelling
  • An indigenous-led urban research agenda
  • Child-friendly cities
  • Smart city governance
  • Urban and planning theory, methodology and praxis

Researchers working in Critical Urban Governance aim to critically engage with the contemporary challenges confronting urban planning and governance in Australia and beyond. We do that by building capacity in research which we see as an active, engaged and inclusive activity; fostering new conversations, debates and collaborations; communicating our ideas to diverse groups of people by diverse media. 

Projects

Rethinking Research Impact

2019 (ongoing)

Researchers and research institutions are increasingly required to demonstrate research impact, but what exactly is research impact and how should we approach it, given the complex challenges the world faces?

Talking Country: Sharing Indigenous stories of place through mobile media

2019–2023

This project aims to investigate how media technologies can facilitate cross-cultural engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Digital innovations, PropTech and housing – the view from Melbourne

2019 (ongoing)

This research is concerned with the collection, digitisation and use of housing information in Australia.

Understanding the assumptions and impacts of the Victorian Public Housing Renewal Program

2018–2019

This research project aimed to evaluate the claims of the PHRP and its underlying model in order to establish an accurate evidence base and assess the anticipated impact of the model on public housing residents in Melbourne.

Willum Warrain Gathering Place: Connecting Country, culture and community

2018–2019

The Willum Warrain Aboriginal Gathering Place offers a space, in Hastings, south-east of Melbourne, where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can come together to explore their goals, ideas and identity.

Climate Adaptation Australia

2017–2019

The project investigates the framings and practices of local governments, community groups and NGOs as they seek to create local adaptation strategies.

Possibilities and practicalities of more inclusive urban governance

2018 (ongoing)

Research on the governance of selected wicked problems in Melbourne, Bristol and Mannar (Sri Lanka) aim to flesh out a workable understanding of emergent, inclusive and multi-scale governance.

Network of Integrated Study Sites

2018 (ongoing)

This project aims to establish a network of integrated urban greening study sites to understand, quantify and qualify the multiple benefits of urban greening, including for biodiversity outcomes and for human health and wellbeing.

Urban Systems for Liveability

2018 (ongoing)

This project investigates the impacts on the lived experience of people in major Australian cities, focusing on the effects of land-use, diffuse air pollution, transport, urban heat and the interconnections between them.

Australian Environmental Justice: RMIT– FoE (Australia) partnership

2016 (ongoing)

Exploring and enhancing environmental justice (EJ), including contributing Australian case studies to the international EJ atlas.

Social innovation for local climate adaptability

2015–2017

This research critically investigates tensions and potentialities between risk-based assessments by local governance agencies and innovations by local groups and NGOs.

Planning for Co-Existence? Recognising Indigenous rights in planning

2015

This project looked at what happens when demands for recognition of Indigenous rights meet planning systems in Canada and Australia.

Seeing the good from trees: remotely sensing the urban forest

2015–2017

We are trying to understand how to efficiently measure the benefits of the urban forest in Australian cities.

Who owns the Sustainable City?

2016–2018

Cities are central to achieving sustainability, yet urban redevelopments – often justified as sustainable – have displaced 15 million people. This research asks how we can find socially sustainable paths of urban development.

Key People

Lead researchers

Professor Libby Porter

Professor Libby Porter

Convener of Critical Urban Governance Program

Associate Professor Wendy Steele

Associate Professor Wendy Steele

Convener of Critical Urban Governance Program

Program Researchers

Higher Degree Research Students

Related Content

News & Blog

Blog

Melbourne tower lockdowns unfairly target already vulnerable public housing residents

06 July 2020

This week, the Victorian government unilaterally placed the residents of nine public housing towers in inner Melbourne under “hard lockdown” due to the “explosive potential” of increasing COVID-19 cases.

Blog

A time to embrace the edge spaces that make our neighbourhoods tick

01 June 2020

As we emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns, it is timely to reflect on how the design of our neighbourhoods and the ways we interact with them affect our lived experience.

Blog

Public land is being sold exactly where thousands on the waiting list need housing

27 May 2020

The need for public housing is greater than ever before – Australia has a shortfall of at least 433,000 dwellings. Using public land for public housing is a no-brainer. But, at the time of writing, the Victorian government is preparing to sell over 2,646 hectares of land.

Media

Victoria wastes potential for public housing on own land: study

03 May 2020

Victorian governments have wasted two decades of opportunities to address the state’s housing crisis, selling surplus public land that could have been used for 11,000 public housing units, new analysis reveals.

Blog

Churches have legal rights in Australia. Why not sacred trees?

07 November 2019

In Australia, corporations such as Coles and Westpac and even some churches operate as legal entities entitled to most of the rights and responsibilities that individuals possess. Why don’t the Djab Wurrung sacred trees have legal standing?

Shh! Don’t mention the public housing shortage. But no serious action on homelessness can ignore it

10 October 2019

Today, October 10, is World Homeless Day. Next week the Council to Homeless Persons will convene the Victorian Homelessness Conference to discuss options for ending homelessness.

Blog

How can we improve our homes to be energy efficient?

04 October 2019

With rising energy bills the new normal, we need to focus on improving Victoria’s housing stock to help householders adapt. New research in Moreland is exploring the barriers and opportunities householders face in improving their homes.

Blog

What kind of state values a freeway’s heritage above the heritage of our oldest living culture?

23 August 2019

What kind of world do we live in when freeways are valued as of greater cultural significance than the practice of the oldest living culture in the world?

News

Tackling urban heat

13 August 2019

Students on an RMIT Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) study tour in Barcelona have developed strategies to tackle urban heat – a growing challenge for cities around the world as urban populations increase.

Media

Public housing program risks reducing homes for vulnerable groups: report

29 May 2019

A new report evaluating the Victorian Government’s program to redevelop inner suburban public housing estates says the plan may reduce the amount of homes available for vulnerable households.

News

Willum Warrain Gathering Place: Connecting Country, culture and community

27 May 2019

A new RMIT project celebrates the powerful story of an Indigenous gathering place and how it connects cultures, communities and Country.

Blog

Indonesia isn’t the only country planning new cities. Why not Australia?

02 May 2019

The announcement that President Joko Widodo’s government will move Indonesia’s capital to another location, due to the severity of human-induced degradation in Jakarta, highlights a key tension for cities today.

Events

Past Events

Postgraduate Master Class: Critical urban research for social change

24 August 2018, 1:00PM-4:00PM

We live in a time where the need for urban research that is critical in its questioning of relations of power and domination is strikingly clear. But what does it really mean to do ‘critical’ urban research?

Past Events

Eco-Suburbia: Low Carbon Futures

13 June 2018, 5:00PM-7:00PM

Join us for an evening with renowned Australian environmental designer and permaculture co-originator David Holmgren together with Professor Ralph Horne and Associate Professor Anitra Nelson as they posit model futures and intervene in the current debate.