Improving how cities work is critical for Australia's future, according to the new director of RMIT's Centre for Urban Research (CUR), Professor Jago Dodson.
Professor Dodson said the CUR's work was increasingly important for Australia as an “urban nation”, and the world generally, due to ongoing urbanisation and the huge problems it might bring.
“Many of the national problems we face, and humanity's numerous global crises, can only be resolved by improving how cities serve as the foundations of our economic, social and environmental wellbeing,” he said.
“That resolution demands better understanding and insight into urban questions and problems.
“Through their work, CUR researchers are directly responding to this globally important need.”
Professor Dodson takes over as Centre Director from Dr Hartmut Fuenfgeld, who steered the CUR as Acting Director from its inception in 2012.
Dr Fuenfgeld was recently appointed senior lecturer within RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies.
Professor Dodson said Dr Fuenfgeld deserved great recognition for his “exemplary work” in establishing the CUR as one of RMIT’s biggest research centres within such a short amount of time.
He said he was “honoured and excited” to have been invited to take on the position at such an important time in the centre’s development.
“I see the CUR as a large, growing multi-disciplinary research group that brings good people together to work on big urban problems and provide insights that advance urban debates and spur improved policy and practice responses,” he said.
“Any research centre depends on the scholarly capability and collegiality of the people who work in it and the CUR has a wonderfully collegial team of superb researchers.”
Professor Dodson said he would like to see the CUR at the forefront of RMIT’s research effort as an urban university and for the centre to be recognised more widely for its contribution to the knowledge of, and policy for, cities and urbanisation.
Professor Dodson, who has been at RMIT since early 2014 as its Professor of Urban Policy, was recruited from his previous position as Director of the Urban Research Program at Griffith University in Queensland.
He has also been a regular commentator on urban issues in the media, featuring in the Australian and The Age, among others.
Professor Dodson’s most recent research has included assessing the role of the private development sector in climate change adaptation; examining the national broadband network and metropolitan planning; investigating private motor vehicle fuel efficiency; and analysing national level urban policy-making in Australia.
His latest book is Australian Environmental Planning (2014), co-edited with colleagues Jason Byrne and Neil Sipe.