Difficult Urban Questions: Inaugural Cities@Melbourne Symposium

MCC Symposium streestscape

In-person or Online
Melbourne Connect
700 Swanston St
Carlton, Vic 3053


A public event by Melbourne Centre for Cities at the University of Melbourne for those interested in how urban spaces are shaped when they are challenged at a global scale

One-day symposium, featuring thought-provoking speakers, cutting-edge research and practice, and collaborative research roundtables, offers the opportunity for delegates to think about opportunities and challenges in managing, planning, living, working, and governing cities.

This event is about city leadership in an interconnected but disrupted world, and how questions, however difficult, are important prompts to explore our collective futures.

Join us for any component of the program, or for the whole day at Melbourne Connect, the University’s purpose-built innovation precinct*.

You will leave with new knowledge and collaborators while contributing your own expertise toward real local and global challenges.

*a zoom webinar link will be provided to those who can’t participate in -person, and recordings of the panel discussions will be made available after the event

Synopsis and themes of Cities@Melbourne Symposium 2022

Cities are at the crossroads of some of today’s most pressing challenges. From frontlines bearing the brunt of the pandemic and climate-induced hazards to turnstiles of international migration and economic flows, what happens in and through cities is essential to shaping the future. Research and action in and on cities, in turn, are rising fundamental questions on the ways in which we live, thrive, and adapt as a predominantly urban species – with many difficult and uncomfortable questions now at hand for experts and practitioners.

How do we maintain sustainable and yet 24-hour thriving cities, and do so in the wake of climate disasters?

How can we build ‘global’ cities that are at the same time equitable and inclusive?

These and many other Difficult Urban Questions are at the heart of this year’s Cities@Melbourne Symposium’s theme. We aim to not shy away from complex conversations and to encourage debate on the basis of world-class evidence built in partnership between academia and the world around universities, from local government to civil society and the private sector.

Difficult Urban Questions will challenge you to engage, discuss, and act, through a day of moderated sessions and showcases convening in Melbourne key voices on the future of cities in an innovative, co-produced, setup. The symposium is brought to you by the Melbourne Centre for Cities, an international research hub of the University of Melbourne working closely with key stakeholders in city leaders nationally and internationally. It offers a venue where to debate, network, and gather evidence about key urban challenges for cities big and small, with a suite of activities geared explicitly toward action and implementation on the basis of graspable evidence. Join us on Friday 7 October, for the whole day, or for the questions and themes that interest you the most, in the program below!

Summary Program

9:15am to 9:45am Welcome to Country, Welcome to Event
9:45am to 10:30am Plenary Panel #1
Who Should Respond to Difficult Urban Questions
1:45pm to 2:30pm Plenary Panel #2
Horizon's Program; and How is Inclusivity Critical for current Urban Dilemmas?
5:15pm to 6:15pm Plenary Panel # 3
Can City Research Solve Difficult Global Challenges?

Research and Impact Roundtables
11am to 12:15pm Session 1:
Cities and Biodiversity and Climate Crises; Indigenous Cities; Connected Cities
2:45pm to 4:00pm Session 2:
Inclusive and Just Cities; Retrofitting Cities; Cities at Night

Interactive, collaborative outputs

Bringing the Global to the Local – as we engage in conversations on global challenges, it is important to continue to engage with place through engaging with our local community. Our commitment as a University is to be an active and supportive community member in our surrounding precincts of Carlton and Parkville.

As such, delegates are encouraged to continue the symposium conversations over lunch at a venue in the surrounding precinct. Participants can sign up and pay for lunch at one of our participating venues, or bring their own food and enjoy a picnic with colleagues in a local park.

Ticket options*

Registration to attend the Forum is free, and a Zoom webinar link will be provided for those who can’t attend in person, and want to listen in to the proceedings. You don’t have to attend the whole event either. Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, and Post-event Networking is included in registration. Lunch includes paid options.

* Paid lunch options include price of actual cost to caterer or restaurant plus Eventbrite fees

  1. Sit down two-course lunch, plus drink and coffee $50 (including processing/booking fees) Venues include: King and Godfree, Lygon St
  2. Walk, talk and eat - Hareruya Pantry Bentobox and drink $50. Venue: Lincoln Square
  3. Walk, talk and eat - Bring your own lunch (BYO)
  4. no lunch option, I won't attend lunch
  5. Post-event networking function at Johnny’s Greenroom, rooftop bar – Lygon and Faraday Streets Carlton. - free - From 6:30pm

Morning Tea is included in the free registration, so you will need to provide any dietary requirements in the ticket booking process.