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Date : 6-Feb-2019

Our Urban Futures

Urban Action School (UAS) 2017

Advanced Course for Urban Policy Practitioners

29th July to 5th August 2017

Tezpur University, Assam

Organized by

Department of Sociology, Tezpur University & Knowledge Activist Hub Urban Poverty, ActionAid India.


Closing date for applications: 27th June 2017

Click here for application form.

This is a call for applications for the UAS short course on ‘Our Urban Futures’. Designed as an advanced course covering several critical areas of urban development paradigm. This course is essentially a mid career training for mid and senior level activists policy advocates, lawyers, journalists, researchers, and all categories of policy practitioners in this space.

The UAS is intended for the benefit of action researchers and social activists, with the objective of building the knowledge base of the participants and to complement action research and field based activism. The course is meant as a space for practitioners to upgrade their knowledge, to provide a space for reflection, for sharing and for acquiring new and useful skills, which in turn helps the participant to do better in her/his work. It is meant to make a difference to the person as well as to the organization/movement/company in which she/he works

Who can apply

Social workers, political activists, people working with community organizations, social movements, trade unions, lawyers, journalists, researchers, urban local bodies, media persons, government officials, research students, elected peoples’ representatives working on issues and concerns pertaining to development are eligible to apply for this course. Experienced professionals are preferred, with a minimum of five years of experience. The language will be mainly English. Applicants who are not comfortable in English can indicate their preference so that we can try and provide interpretation.

How will it be useful

The Urban Action School will bring together activists/ practitioners working on a range of issues relating to urban poverty, exclusion, livelihood, and urbanization from a wide range of disciplines.  The UAS hopes to establish, over time, communities of practice and activist knowledge in various disciplines by creating a forum for cross-sectoral learning. The UAS also facilitate cross-pollination of ideas and experiences between different activists/ practitioners. It will provide an opportunity for a critical take-aways based on this year’s focus area i.e Urban Futures. A “Certificate of Participation” will be awarded to all participants upon completion of the course by co-organisers UAS, ActionAid Association and Tezpur University.

Course Content

Each year the course curriculum is redesigned to reflect current and relevant ideas, issues, and concerns. The intention is to make the course a credible and significant contribution to understanding of cities, citizens, development models and people-oriented sustainable planning with an attempt to find solutions to growing urban poverty, migration, alienation, exclusion, violence, and lack of regulation and planning.

This short course will focus on “Urban Futures” which will attempt to build a holistic perspective by looking at the macro aspects of the global scenario and connecting the impact on the country. There will be a focus on the North East region of the country. Several significant transitions are taking place in the region; for example the impact of the big infrastructure projects have commenced which are raising concerns in terms of its possible impact on the environment and people’s lives. The course will discuss the concepts involved in imagining and implementing a genuinely sustainable, equitable and inclusive development that means a better life for the huge and growing urban poor and working people of the country. Aspects of patriarchy, gender issues and woman’s movement will be discussed. The course will also look at migration, labor issues and primarily the informal sector where the question of minimum wages, social protection etc. will be deliberated upon. In all, the course will examine alternative development models and solutions and try to identify means to achieve a decent and dignified life for people.

The following themes will be discussed in the course.

  • Current Development paradigm, Global Finance and Imperialism
  • Rural – Urban Continuum and the urbanization paradigm in the country and the effect on triple bottom line           
  • COP Negotiations and Climate Justice          
  • Environment Issues in NE and its impact on people and development        
  • Conflicts arising due to New economic paradigm    
  • Patriarchy, Gender and the woman’s movement     
  • Trafficking and decriminalization of sex work          
  • Migration and livelihoods      
  • Labour and Informal Sector   
  • Minimum Wage and Social Protection         
  • Alternatives and Development Paradigms    


The course will employ multiple methods of teaching over and above the regular classroom pedagogy. Methods such as group discussions, multimedia, video conferencing etc. will be used. The course will be primarily undertaken in the English medium.

Resource persons

Academics, subject experts and practioners from across the globe are participating to create an enriched exposure concerning urban issues. Some resource persons will take the class online via video uplink. Detailed course content will be sent to the selected participants later. Some of the key resource persons are:

    • Prabhat Patnaik is an economist and political commentator, who has achieved both national and international acclaim with his incisive analyses of economics and politics. He is a emeritus professor at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
    • Ramananda Wangkheirakpam is the director for Forum for Indigenous perspectives and action and is his areas of work primarily entails analysis of the impact of huge infrastructure projects specifically the Hydro power sector in the North east region particularly looking at the displacement and livelihoods, the impact on ecology, dam safety etc.
    • Walter Fernandes founded the North Eastern Social Research centre and is now a senior fellow. His researches focus on development-induced displacement in North East India. He has also done extensive studies on tribal rights, livelihood issues, land rights, climate justice and peace initiatives.
    • Manorama Sharma is the former Professor and Head of Depatment of North Eastern University and presently heads the Gender Cell of the Institute of Social change and regional development (ISCARD). Her key area of expertise is Northeast India and gender and society.
    • Roshmi Goswami is a feminist and human rights activist, co-founder of North-East Network and the present Chair of Foundation for Social Transformation- Enabling NE India. 
    • Chandan Kumar Sharma is Professor and Head at the Department of Sociology, Tezpur University. His areas of research are development, environment, social movements, ethnicity, migration, culture, society and politics of north eastern India
    • Debabrata Roy Laifungbam is a prominent intellectual, activist and is credited as one of the fathers of human rights movement from Manipur. He is also the convener of he Civil society coalition on Human rights in Manipur.
    • D.Raghunandan volunteers with the Delhi Science Forum (DSF), in fields of science-and-society interface. He served two terms as Executive Secretary of the All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN), a federation of science-based social movements. He works actively in climate policy research.
    • Shrawan Kumar Acharya is a Professor in the Faculty of Planning at JNU. His research interest involves the historical, social, economic, environmental, and political contexts of urban and regional planning. Besides teaching and research he is actively engaged in capacity building initiatives for various government and nongovernmental organizations.
    • Abhijit Sharma is an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Bank Management in Guwahati. His areas of interest are primarily in Rural Financial markets, social enterprise, financial inclusion and micro finance etc. An urban planner, he tries to connect the financial markets and their spatial and economic correlations.

Selection Process

The host organizations will constitute a group of panelists to go through the applications and choose 25 participants. Selection will be broadly based on representation from different regions and sectors of practice. Care will be taken to see that there is adequate diversity, based on caste, gender and minorities. The decision of the selection committee will be final.


The course and the accommodation are arranged at Tezpur University. Accommodation will be on twin sharing basis. Simple food will be provided. Boarding and lodging as well as course materials will be taken care of by the host organizations, as also overhead costs pertaining to the course related activities such as field visits, stationery, reading materials etc. Participants are expected to take care of their travel from their respective locations to and from the venue. We will offer travel support to a few of those working in grassroots organizations. The organizers will decide on the applications for travel support based on set criteria based on finance and geography. Their decision will be final.

Host organizations

Main organizers: Citizens Rights Collective (CiRiC) an initiative of the Knowledge Activist Hub on Urban Poverty, ActionAid India, in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, Tezpur University, based in Tezpur, Assam.

PLEASE NOTE: The course is strictly residential. Participants are expected to stay at the venue even if they are from Tezpur or nearby. All participants are expected to stay through the entire course and not leave halfway unless there are compelling reasons like a sudden family emergency. Applicants must remember that leaving midway without sufficiently valid reason is likely to affect the prospects of others from their organization that might apply for other courses at UAS in the future. These restrictions are designed to ensure equity and inclusiveness across all participants.

How to Apply

You may fill the application form and email it to the following email id: such that it reaches us before midnight IST latest by 27th June 2017.  Alternatively, You may print the application form and send it by post or courier to the address below.

Anju Reshma Manikoth,
Course Coordinator,
Urban Action School
c/o Actionaid Guwahati Regional Office,  No. 2B, Mandovi Apartment, GNB Road, Opposite Rabindra Bhawan, Digholi Pukhuri East, Ambari, Guwahati, Assam 781001; Ph: 9949811120

PLEASE APPLY EARLY! Closing date for applications is 27th June 2017 (midnight IST)

Click here for application form.

For organizers

Meena R Menon and Anju Manikoth (Urban Action School); Mrinal Gohain (ActionAid India) and Chandan Kumar Sharma (Tezpur University)