PhD Debate - Common Ground beyond Disciplines: Readings on Urban Infrastructure

PhD Debate hosted by LSE Cities and LSE PhD Academy

Urbanisation is a complex, multidimensional process and no one discipline can understand, explain and address urban development adequately. In part, different disciplines address different issues – technical problems, social dynamics, political power – but sometimes they intersect and the city and its infrastructure systems provides a viable context for exploring disciplinary interfaces. This LSE Cities PhD Debate discussed the experiences of analysing urban infrastructure systems and their governance dynamics through a multidisciplinary perspective. This perspective relies on combining established readings and frameworks applied to the analysis of urban development and socio-technical systems with institutional analysis of urban governance and integrated planning. This debate brought together scholars in development studies, planning and transport studies, architecture and engineering, geography and anthropology, economic development and political science and public administration. Each of these disciplines offers a range of conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches of considerable value for investigating urban infrastructures. Some of these frameworks are mostly synergetic while others are much harder to bring together.


This debate series is organised by LSE Cities in partnership with the LSE PhD Academy

Image Credit: Addis Ababa © Charlie Rosser


    Jo Beall

    Professor Jo Beall is a Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE and has conducted research in Africa and Asia on urban development and governance as well as cities in situations of conflict and state fragility. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Open University. She has written numerous books and articles on a wide range of topics.

    Nuno Ferreira da Cruz

    Nuno F. da Cruz is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science, and the coordinator of the Metropolitan Indicators project. He is a multidisciplinary academic who works on various aspects of urban and metropolitan governance. In particular, his research engages with multilevel governance, transparency and accountability, sustainability, measurement, organisational models for public services, and a number of interrelated topics. This work has been published in leading journals such as Public Administration, Government Information Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, Cities and Journal of Urban Affairs. His latest research efforts have been focused on network governance.

    Simon Franklin

    Dr Simon Franklin is a Postdoctoral Research Economist at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics where he is part of a programme of research on urbanisation in Africa. He received my DPhil in Economics from the University of Oxford in 2015, where he is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of African Economies. His research interests include Development, Labour, and Urban Economics.

    Julia King

    Julia King is a Research Fellow at LSE Cities and the coordinator for numerous research strands including 'Streets for All' a research project commissioned by the Greater London Authority and on-going work on urban governance in India. Trained as an architect her research, design practice and teaching focus on sanitation and housing in the context of rapid urbanisation, inequitable infrastructure developments and urban micro-culture in the UK and India. Her work has been exhibited internationally including the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennial. She has authored chapters in Home Economics (2016) and Infrastructure Space (2017) and co-authored a chapter in The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century City (2017).

    Philipp Rode

    Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As researcher, consultant and advisor he has been directing interdisciplinary projects comprising urban governance, transport, city planning and urban design at the LSE since 2003. The focus of his current work is on institutional structures and governance capacities of cities, and on sustainable urban development, transport and mobility. Rode is co-directing the cities workstream of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and has co-led the United Nations Habitat III Policy Unit on Urban Governance. He is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).

    Savvas Verdis

    Savvas Verdis is a Senior Research Fellow at LSE Cities, the Deputy Director of the Executive MSc in Cities and the founder of Until recently he was Director of Infrastructure Economics at Siemens Cities. At the LSE, he manages the Executive Education programmes, which include: tailored learning experiences for organisations; the Executive Summer School programme on London and Global Cities; and the Executive MSc in Cities. He previously worked in the advisory service of LSE Cities and led the research of the ninth Urban Age conference in Rio de Janeiro. He has consulted numerous city and national governments on their infrastructure strategies in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Turkey. From 2009 to 2012, he was founder and CEO of Property Analytics, an algorithm-based property rating website that ranked residential properties in London and New York. He received his PhD from Cambridge University in 2007.