The first in-person event for the Future Cities Research Institute was held at Sunway University in July 2022. This symposium coincided with the Lancaster University (LU) – Sunway University (SU) 15 Year Partnership Anniversary Celebration, and strengthened the synergies and networks built remotely during the pandemic.
The Lancaster University delegation, composed of Institute Co-Director Professor Emmanuel Tsekleves; theme leads Professor Roger Pickup, Professor Kirk Semple, Professor Juliana Sutanto, Dr Alison Stowell, and Professional Services lead Dr Mandy Dillon, travelled to Sunway in July 2022. The group was also joined by Marta Ferri, a PhD candidate researching plastic and the circular economy, following a win of a PGR competition to join the trip.
On the first day, Tuesday 6th July, the two Co-Directors (Prof. Emmanuel Tsekleves and Prof. Sabine-Salima Chaouche), along with the theme leads from both universities, met for informal meetings on the Sunway University campus. After these meetings, there was a surprise visit to Chef Soon’s kitchen, organised by Dr Jane Gew Lai Ti. Chef Soon kindly prepared a tasty treat for the FCRI group, and showed how his kitchen aspires to apply the zero-waste philosophy put forward by the Culinary Labs Food Waste Management System. As part of this, Chef Soon and his students use reusable plastic dishes to portion and serve desserts, thus reducing the creation of plastic waste. Food waste is also separated, and later composted.
In the afternoon, the FCRI group visited Sunway City. Here they visited the Sunway University urban farm (FutureX Farm) where a multidisciplinary team of research academics and students grow a diverse selection of produce. The products are sold locally, offering a pesticide-free and reduced-packaging alternative to buying in supermarkets, making FutureX Farm a working example of sustainability in an urban space.
On Thursday 7th July, the FCRI team presented the vision, mission, plans, theme research, and ongoing projects to senior management from both LU and SU, in a “show and tell” event. The presentations were well received and reaffirmed the commitment of senior management to the FCRI, and its strategic role across both institutions and for the partnership between the two universities. This event was followed by a formal dinner, where conversations continued around the FCRI and its research themes.
The following day, an awareness and capacity building workshop was held. The FCRI team presented the institute, its current projects, and future research plans to a list of 30 researchers from various disciplines from across Sunway University. Workshop participants had the opportunity to engage with theme leads on future research collaborations, as well as providing feedback and suggestions on the presented FCRI programme of activities. Training was also provided on the forthcoming external funding landscape and the optimal ways of drafting an impactful research abstract.
The conference came to a close on Friday 8th July, successfully strengthening the synergies built remotely during the pandemic and illustrated FCRI’s interdisciplinary pathways moving forward. The Institute was launched during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and this first in-person event demonstrated how the FCRI significantly reflects the uncertainty of our times, and it’s aims at bringing solutions to the challenges that urban spaces will face in the future.
The FCRI will be hosting its next webinar in new academic year.