Co-production research for inclusive cities: Ethics, trust-building and politics in community engagements


Webinar by Diana Mitlin

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft
14 October, 13:30 – 14:30 CET, Open lecture (online)
The lecture will be online. Registration in this form
Contact: Boram Kim |

Co-production is considered an essential component of an inclusive urban agenda. In academia, researchers are increasingly involving communities in contributing to the urban agenda. However, it is challenging to achieve substantive outcomes benefiting both the researchers and communities. Researchers frequently face risks of ending up implementing a researcher-centered process and de facto ‘using’ communities to fulfilling researchers’ interests. This often causes communities’ distrust of researchers. Such risks can be originated from multiple hidden factors including implicit unequal relationships between researchers and communities, different motivations to be engaged in co-production projects, and subtle distance between realistic solutions for communities and academically qualified research outcomes. This talk will address how the nature of co-production research should be perceived in the first place, and what should be considered in a research project to foster positive collaborations with communities, and thus contributing to making changes.

Diana Mitlin is a Professor of Global Urbanism in the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester and also Principal Researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). From 2015 to 2019 she was Managing Director of the Global Development Institute. For more than 20 years, she has worked on the issues of urban inequality and poverty in towns and cities in the Global South, with a particular interest in co-production with grassroots organizations and support agencies to improve urban neighbourhoods (land tenure, basic services, and housing). Renowned for these topics globally, she was also invited for UN-Habitat Global Urban Lectures on ‘Co-producing sustainable cities’. She has published numerous articles and chapters on urban poverty, empowerment, co-production, the role of NGOs, and rights-based approaches. Many of her research projects were funded by international agencies including UN-Habitat, UNFPA, and UNDP, several trusts and foundations including the Ford Foundation, and bilateral development assistance agencies of the UK, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands.

This webinar is an open lecture of the Doctoral Education course ‘ABE024 The ethics of co-production research’. The course will provide understandings of the relationship between research ethics, coproduction and trust-building with communities from a theoretical and empirical perspective. More information and enrolments in the course link.