Urban Living Futures & Society: People, Culture, Economy & the Built Environment

Cities across the world are undergoing rapid and transformative change. Research within our Urban Living Futures & Society theme addresses the need for adaptation strategies to create net zero cities and resilient communities to address the global climate emergency. Our researchers analyse related issues through the lens of urban living, seeking to understand the connections between key fields such as health, economies, culture, and technology.

Our current and expanding interdisciplinary research expertise in urban planning, the digital humanities, infrastructure engineering, innovation networks, business support, social cohesion, the law, governance frameworks, cultural studies and globalisation serve our communities in Western Sydney and world-wide as they adapt to urban change. Through co-creation and strong partnerships, we help improve government strategies that impact how we build and live in our cities.

Western’s campuses sit within one of the world’s most dynamic and culturally diverse cities. Sydney is currently undergoing rapid transformation, and Western Sydney is at the forefront of the key challenges in urban development. Along with the expertise concentrated on existing campuses, the theme will use new central University vertical campuses in Liverpool, Parramatta, and Bankstown to explore experimental and active research models.

Theme Champions

Theme Fellow

Research Excellence in Urban Living Futures & Society

Our theme links different research concentrations spread across the University. Researchers from a range of Research Centres and Schools work in fields such as public health, creative industries, property development, transport, smart construction, architectural design, geography, and urban planning. Combined our researchers investigate and develop solutions that mitigate the impacts of climate change on our cities. Our researchers generate internationally significant evidence, tools, and theories to tackle our most pressing urban challenges.

Institute for Culture and Society

The Institute for Culture and Society researches transformations in culture and society in the context of contemporary global change. It champions collaborative engaged research in the humanities and social sciences for a globalising digital age. Institute members work in a broad range of fields including cultural studies, sociology, media and communication studies, human geography, anthropology, history, museum studies, heritage studies, and urban studies.

Urban Transformations Research Centre

Launched in November 2022, the Urban Transformations Research Centre (UTRC) addresses one of the greatest challenges facing humankind: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable (UN SDG11). The UTRC draws on expertise from across Western Sydney University, and within the community, to deliver outcomes based on exemplary demonstration of action-oriented research that will enable impact at scale. The Centre's transdisciplinary teams transcend three interrelated research and innovation programs: Systems Innovation and Demonstration; People-centred Sustainable Precinct Design, and; Resilient Construction and Infrastructure.

Impact Snapshot

Western's Solar Car – UNLIMITED

We aspire to generate tangible outcomes for climate change mitigation through widespread outreach activities to government, policy makers, scientists and the wider community. We want to cultivate a passion, particularly among young people, that can instigate change now. An outstanding example of our success to deliver this change is the work of the Western Sydney Solar Team.

Starting in 2011, a dedicated team of students is pushing the boundaries of mechanical and electrical engineering and manufacturing to create cutting edge car technology of tomorrow. The team is driven by an unquenchable devotion to explore the limits of efficiency and sustainability in car technology – and then go the next step.

The Solar Car team was the first international team ever to win the American Solar Challenge in 2018 with their model UNLIMITED 2.0. The next model, UNLIMITED 3.0 was the lightest solar car in the world in 2019.

The 16 partners who supported the Solar Car team at Western share our vision for tomorrow and desire to shape the future instead of being a bystander. And the strategists and communication experts in the team help promote this vision. By demonstrating the capabilities we have today, we hope the possibilities of tomorrow will inspire and captivate the imagination of everyone.

UNLIMITED 5.0 is the latest solar car designed and produced by the team and is set to compete in the 2023 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a gruelling competition across 3,000 kilometres of rugged outback terrain from Darwin to Adelaide.

With support from the School of Engineering, Design and Built Environment, the team of 25 students from the fields of engineering, communications, business, information technology, and science have delivered their most cutting-edge vehicle layout to date, an ambitious three-wheeled design developed almost entirely in-house.


Research Capacity Map

The Research Capacity Map (PDF, 246.69 KB) (opens in a new window) highlights key areas of research strength related to the Research Theme. If you would like to know more about a specific precinct or key capacity, please contact the Champions of this Research Theme.

Wicked Urban Challenges in Western Sydney Report

Wicked Urban Challenges Report thumbnail

The purpose of the Wicked Urban Challenges: Researchers Respond report is to provide critical insights and perspectives around how to tackle four of Western Sydney’s wicked urban challenges, and ensure our region is prepared for the future, namely:

  • job/housing imbalances and inadequate infrastructure investment
  • declining housing affordability
  • cultural infrastructure disparities
  • extreme urban heat

Download the Report (PDF, 1667.81 KB) (opens in a new window)

Urban Living Futures & Society Report (2020-2022)

Urban Living Futures and Society Report 2020-2022 Cover

The Urban Living Futures & Society Theme is proud to present a summary of activities throughout 2020-2022. Despite the intense difficulties over this period imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Theme continues to grow, expanding its reach and impact. The research-led discoveries, interventions and innovations covered in this report take as their focus the complex and intersecting factors which inform the adaptation strategies needed to create net zero cities and resilient communities in the context of the global climate emergency.

Collaboration is at the core of Theme activity, should you have any questions or inquiry please do get in touch.

Download the Report (PDF, 1518.04 KB) (opens in a new window)

The Double Bind Report

The Double Bind

This collaborative research examines the care transition experiences of ageing informal carers and disabled family members in multicultural communities in New South Wales. The report establishes a growing despondence and profound uncertainties over the future of care and support for ageing informal carers and disabled family members, primarily due to unsupportive and complex care policy context, the lack of accessible information, and weakening social support networks. The report argues for the need to strengthen advocacy for policy reforms that address the needs, aspirations, and cultural expectations of ageing informal carers and persons with disability in multicultural communities in planning for future long-term care.

Download the Report (PDF, 4060.76 KB) (opens in a new window)