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Geographical Society lecture 20.11.15November 30th, 2015
Slums: places of squalor or desirable, thriving communities?
An investigation into the problems of slums in the developing world and intervention strategies
HMSG’s Geographical Society welcomed Dr Peter Mackie, from Cardiff University, back for another thought-provoking lunchtime lecture, the focus being slums in the developing world. This is a most relevant topic as it is taught both at GCSE and A Level. By 1.15pm Room 214 was packed to the rafters with 65 enquiring minds from Years 10-13, a sandwich in hand and ready to think critically about this important issue.
Dr Mackie reflected on his findings from nearly a decade of research into slums in Latin America and Africa. He presented to the audience the staggering figure of 870 million people living in slums across the globe. The world’s poorest people, he articulated, are forced into sub-standard housing where they face awful living conditions, including poor sanitation and a lack of essential services. Poor-health, low levels of education and high crime rates are just some of the consequences of slum dwelling. The audience actively took part in a high powered intellectual discussion about these issues. Through encouraging the pupils to critically evaluate information Dr Mackie proposed that slums foster communities, many of which have existed for decades which have many positive aspects. This sense of community has unfortunately been lost in many western urban areas.
The audience was presented with a challenge, ‘how should we respond to slums?’ Approaches ranging from eviction to slum up-grading were discussed. This elicited a wide degree of responses from the audience which Dr Mackie was clearly impressed by. The lecture was thoroughly appreciated by the pupils because of its realism and the opportunity it provided to listen to current academic research. The lecture challenged pupils to think of sustainable solutions and how stakeholders should respond.
Dr Mackie took time at the end of his talk to further discuss these issues with enthusiastic A Level students; he also offered advice on choosing university courses and UCAS applications.