Future of Cities, a project being run nationally by the Government Office for Science, aims to look at what cities will look like in the years 2040 and 2065. This is so we can prepare for the opportunities and challenges we might meet in the future. The project also intends to look at the past of the Lancaster District to see how we have got where we are now, and to predict how the city area will continue to develop.
Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce had the idea that it should consult with young people about how they envisage the future of the district, as they will be the ones around to see it. This developed into considering how young people's outlooks may differ according to different stages of life, and how they may have alternative viewpoints to many adults.
We thought it would be fun to run the project as a competition for young people. The competition format allows young people to explore the future of the district in a non-pressured way. We fully believe that the competition can foster a more proactive response to the future, instilling young participants with a confidence in their ability to positively influence the future. In fact, all competition entries will form the basis for a report that will be fed directly back to the Government Office for Science, and will be incorporated into future local policy.
Future of Cities Report
'The Future of Cities Report provides some interesting insights into Child Psychology and children and young people's views on the future. This has been a great project which has provided some interesting insights and information.'
The final draft of the Future of Cities Report has been submitted to the Government Office for Science.
In a competition coordinated by Lancaster & District Chamber of Commerce in 2014, young people aged 5-18 and adults in the Lancaster District were asked to write and/or draw what they think Lancaster will be like or should be like in 2065.
The main ideas/concerns that came up were:
- Making sure things are affordable
- Environmental issues
- Addressing social inequality, including improving access to accommodation, tackling poverty, and addressing the needs of an ageing population
- Having a fun, vibrant city
- making everyday tasks more convenient
- More and better leisure activities
- Technology as an integral part of everyday life
Entrants produced a mix of general and specific ideas, but often used their own initiative to independently develop ideas around given themes. With the exception of a few entries, the vast majority portrayed Lancaster in 2065 as pleasant and easy to live in, with lots of fun thrown in.
How young people presented their ideas on the page was linked to both academic and neurological development. Entrants frequently used references to physical objects rather than abstract processes (e.g. systems of governance or law)
The idea that the increased use of technology leads to self-absorption was rejected and nearly all entrants used identifiable popular culture references to develop their ideas.
62% of ideas related directly to cities, and only 5% of ideas related directly to Lancaster, showing difficulties in keeping to the topic specifically when faced with the broad idea of the future.
Entries showed an acute awareness of money and affordability. Prefrontal cortex development in young people, working memory capacity with age, neuroplasticity/pruning, schema, and theories of cognitive development were all used to discuss the above in more detail.
Adults having internalised their different positions in society, as well as differences neurophysiological development, could create barriers to interpreting young people's ideas and thought processes.
For information and updates on the Government Office For Science's national scheme, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/future-of-cities