Royal Visit for Sustainability

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Founder and President of The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, visited Oxford on 16 May 2017 to review the work of the Department’s Sustainable Urban Development programme and its ability to address the challenges of global urbanisation.

Rapid urbanisation is the largest demographic challenge of the 21st century. The population in the world’s largest urban areas is set to almost double by 2050, at a time of natural resource depletion and climate change. This is something The Prince of Wales has been speaking about and actively addressing, through the work of his charities, including The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, for many years.

Smaller cities, meanwhile, are encountering a reverse dilemma to urban growth: urban shrinkage, and the subsequent diminution of services. Vlad Mykhnenko, Associate Professor of Sustainable Urban Development, has one focus of his research on urban shrinkage, structural adjustment, and economic resilience.

The visit was hosted by Professor Jonathan Michie, Director of Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education and President of Kellogg College, and David Toman, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.

The Department’s MSc in Sustainable Urban Development is a collaboration between the Foundation and Oxford University – now in its seventh year. In 2014 the Department expanded the programme to include a DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development.

Above: HRH Prince Charles looks on as Professor Jonathan Michie signs the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and The Prince's Foundation for a new Master's programme in Sustainable Urban Development: Clarence House, 2009.

The Prince met students and lecturers from the programme and heard how research and study is leading to the development of practical solutions to offset the problems caused by rapid urbanisation, and how the development, design and implementation of these solutions was making a positive impact on the contemporary practice of urbanisation in the UK, and internationally.

The Prince was also shown Kellogg College’s new ‘Hub’ building – a common room and café open to all College members for study and informal gatherings. Many of the Department’s students on the MSc and DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development are matriculated at Kellogg.

The Hub is the first Oxford University building to use the environmentally friendly Passivhaus design. Passivhaus is a rigorous, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in a building, reducing its ecological footprint. It results in ultra-low energy buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling.

Professor Jonathan Michie said: "The collaboration between the Department and the Prince’s Foundation began in 2009, and since that time has accepted an average of twenty international students per year on the Master's in Sustainable Urban Development. In 2014 the Department added a Doctorate programme to allow students an opportunity to pursue in-depth and rigorous research. Alumni of both programmes, along with the research undertaken by our academics, aims to address the threats posed by unplanned urban growth, to realise the opportunities from global urbanisation –  and to contribute to the creation of more resilient and sustainable cities for future generations."

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Published 20 June 2017