Smart-sustainable or hazardous urban environments? Youth perspectives on urban environments

Authors: Hamil Pearsall*, Temple University, Michele Masucci, Temple University
Topics: Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: qualitative GIS, data production, hazards, youth
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 50
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


We critically examine the concept of the ‘smart sustainable city’ through the perspectives of high-school aged youth to understand their ways of understanding urban environments. We engaged 40 youth involved in a 6-week summer program “Building Information Technology Skills (BITS) in a series of group discussions and qualitative mapping exercises to identify what the youth saw as critical urban environmental hazards in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the types of solutions that are required to address them. Our study uncovers a disconnect between what youth see as critical urban environmental hazards and what the science community and policy makers prioritize. The youth expressed pessimism that the key tools of the smart-sustainable city (technologies) could affect near future change for the most pressing issues, and many highlighted the barriers that youth face to being able to enact meaningful changes in their local environments. Our study suggests that qualitative GIS reveals need for change in the way environmental problems are identified, framed, and characterized.

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