I recently joined City REDI and I am thrilled to be working with such a dynamic multidisciplinary team with a wide range of expertise both in policy and practice. I started working as a research fellow in the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at the University of Birmingham in May 2017 on the USE-IT! (Unlocking Social and Economic Innovation Together!) project. In this role, I had the opportunity to engage proactively with colleagues in different departments including City-REDI as well as partner public and private institutions and local NGOs. This is an exciting partnership based on action-research that is rather practical than desk-based. USE-IT! provides me with the opportunity to be out there with a community with varied responsibilities like leading recruitment and delivery of the USE-IT! Community researcher programme, engaging with different partners, organising events and preparing periodical reports and briefs. In this capacity, I have also contributed to teaching and working hands-on with a number of student project work at CURS from undergraduates to postgraduates and also guided three PhD students with their dissertations.
Through USE-IT! I had the chance to improve knowledge transfer, enterprise, business and public engagement in a local area of urban deprivation in Birmingham. For example, I recruited and trained more than 60 local people with no history in research to become community researchers (CR). They are now being commissioned research projects and two of them have started on CURS’s MSc in Urban Regeneration and Planning. I have also invited the CRs to enhance the student experience by joining the final student project presentations and giving comments and feedback from a community perspective.
I was awarded my PhD degree in December 2016 at the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED), the University of Manchester after being awarded the competitive SEED PhD studentship award. My PhD research enabled me to develop a strong understanding of current conceptual debates within the urban planning policy, transport studies, social diversity and critical urban studies. During my PhD, I developed a Stakeholder driven decision-making model (SDDM) to reconcile the transport policy agenda with issues of social and economic sustainability through the stakeholder engagement planning that empowers end-users. The SDDM builds on understanding mechanisms and theories of change that can deliver sustainable outcomes. My enthusiasm for knowledge transfer was proven when disseminating the findings of my research by presenting to audiences from policy and academic backgrounds in seminars and through participating in top-level policymakers meetings encouraging the integration of poor and migrant communities. The outcomes of this timely research include transport policy development and creation of evaluation models based on stakeholder analysis. I have recently been granted a small fund award (£5000) from the Institute of Global Innovation Resilient Cities theme to further validate and evaluate the model developed during my PhD.
My research position in City REDI provides me with an exciting opportunity to continue my academic career aspirations. In City REDI, I am now working on the USE-IT! project till December 2019 as well as bidding for other projects and opportunities. I am hoping that I can expand my research track record and further my academic career with a number of exciting multidisciplinary projects at a prestigious Institute such as City REDI.
This blog was written by Dr Sara Hassan, Research Fellow, City-REDI.
The opinions presented here belong to the author rather than the University of Birmingham.
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