We believe that cities are important for humans as essential forms of social organisation in contemporary human life. Currently, the integrity of cities as enduring systems faces many challenges — ‘exogenous’ factors such as unsustainable consumption of energy and other resources and ‘endogenous’ factors such as ‘liveability’ and the ‘human scale’ of cities. Therefore we must work to ensure their future, hence the emerging importance of the concept of resilience. But how do we ensure the future of cities? Current slow, de-centralised and business-as-usual urban development is problematic. Instead, a planned approach to urban development is necessary, but how do we plan for cities to be resilient? Planning must inevitably rest on an understanding of how a city functions, and this leads us to thinking of developing mental or computational models of cities. In this paper we explore a number of mental models of cities, which could form the basis for directed urban planning. We identify three types of urban models, urban-state models, urban-learning models, and urban-systems models. Furthermore, we argue that all the current urban models are piecemeal and/or impractical and either do not adequately consider the complexity of the city or are not suitable for the interface with governance, We suggest that the best way forward is to embed multiple urban models within an adaptive governance framework, thereby providing a way for urban decision makers and planning organisations to better handle the complexity of their cities. To enable this, further work is required to identify suitable urban systems archetypes.
Professor Iain Walker
Institution: University of Canberra
Department: Discipline of Psychology
I am a social psychologist. My research has a strong emphasis on the application of social psychology to problems such as intergroup relations (including prejudice and racism), sustainability, climate change, water and energy conservation, and modelling human-ecosystem processes. This research is primarily concerned with understanding and engaging with processes of social and environmental change. Behind this is a broader concern with developing a better theoretical understanding of sociality and the interplay between theory and practice. Much of my research, especially over the last decade, has been interdisciplinary. I am presently a Professor of Psychology and Head of the School of Psychology and Counselling at the University of Canberra. Previously I worked (2009-2016) as a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the CSIRO, where I also served as Research Program Leader for the Social and Economic Sciences Program (2013-2014) and Research Group Leader for the Social and Behavioural Sciences Group (2009-2013). Prior to that, I worked at Murdoch University. Murdoch gave me my first academic job as a lecturer, straight out of graduate school (at the University of California, Santa Cruz). I served there as Head of the School of Psychology, as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences.