The last five weeks were overwhelming as the start of the summer term overlapped with the course I’ve been taking part in. The centre topic of The Oxford Leadership Programme organized by the Transport Studies Unit was urban mobilities after Covid-19. Being virtually mobile, I had the opportunity to “meet” with various people from the mobility and transport research sector from all over the world.
The course was intense – reading, brilliant video presentations and plenty of blocs of discussion groups with the tutors and other participants.
The discussion seminars are what I value the most. Especially in those times when most of us interact only with the small circle of the closest, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about the current challenges of transport and mobility research. To think out loud and get immediate feedback is something we might miss for some time now.
Indeed, I do regret it was not possible to attend this course in the present form. I mean, who would not like to actually experience Oxford with all its takes, right? Anyway, while everyone was an active participant engaging with others, it outweighs the fact it was all held online. Plus, there are the undebatable environmental and safety benefits as well.
Discussing with others about our current work allows each other to learn from different perspectives. Even though some of the policies or approaches tend to travel worldwide, the experiences differ significantly. This enables me to zoom out a bit from my current research problems, incorporate others perspectives and get a new lens on how to look around. Plus, as an early researcher, this course’s huge asset is that it provides me with a tall pile of references for my further activities.
A concrete example might be how Covid-19 has impacted and highlighted inequalities in mobilities. We have witnessed how our cities are at a fast pace adjusting to the new situation. Yet, sometimes this did not result in mitigating the unjust mobility landscape.
The focus in academia, the policy sector and the broader public to design and provide physical infrastructural change, like a bike lane or implementation of shared-micro-mobility solutions, is essential. Still, an epistemic shift might be just if not more important.