Home » Городские Народный Университет » The Urban Popular University

Mostra/Nascondi il menu

The Urban Popular University

Who are we?

The UPU is an initiative of the International Alliance of Inhabitants, a global network of residents and organizations that struggle for the right to housing, established within the framework of the 2004 Social Forum in Mumbai.

What are our objectives?

  • Raise consciousness about housing rights, urban issues, and the social environment by connecting research, publication, and training with a transformative and inclusive focus.
  • Empower the staff and volunteers of inhabitants’ associations in domains of knowledge relevant to their work.
  • Ensure that the staff and volunteers of inhabitants’ associations have access to intercultural learning experiences that promote a critical and transformative culture with regard to housing issues.

What work do we do?

The UPU facilitates activities in research, training, exchange of practice, and publication in the following areas:

  • Key questions in organization and training, with particular attention to planning, evaluating, and developing policies. Other areas of interest include communication, management of time and resources, and participation.
  • The global/local dimension concerning questions of housing and the ability to exchange experiences between peer organizations and to develop collaborative relationships.
  • The social construction of the environment and the right to the city. Key tensions, actors, and concepts, including security of tenure, durability of housing, sufficient housing space, water access, bathrooms, etc.
  • The roll of social housing movements and their communities and political action at both the local and regional levels and under the framework of the processes of the Global Social Forum and the Forum of Local Authorities.

What have we done so far?  UPU Regional Meetings

Three UPU regional meetings with the theme “Constructing the Urban Popular University in Latin America” have been held. The first in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in May 2006; the second in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in April 2007; and the third in Lima, Peru in January 2010. The participants in these meetings included:

  • Current and potential leaders of working-class neighborhoods, coordinating organizations of micro-enterprise associations, communal banks, and other organizations of women, youth, parishes, etc.
  • Young people with or without a high school education.
  • Drivers of local economic activities.

Within these meetings, we strive to give equal opportunities in terms of gender (men and women participants), age (adult and youth participants), and type of organization (individuals, economic associations, neighborhood groups, etc.).

The “Constructing the Urban Popular University in Latin America” regional meetings are intended to promote the development of skills for grassroots leaders as agents of their own destinies and the development of their communities, with governmental and independent capacities, and to promote reflection on key themes directly linked to the needs and goals of the IAI. These are complex objective that demand the active, concrete participation of the diverse, living forces of a community or region.

In this initiative, the educational program does not have as its primary objective the creation of new leaders. Rather, in the great majority of cases the leaders already exist and participate actively in the life of their communities. What we hope to do is contribute to their best development, strengthen their identities and their understanding of the world at large, and awaken their sense of solidarity with a clear perspective of social transformation.

We have participated in the conferences of the Latin American Association of Sociology (ALAS, per its initials in Spanish) in Recife (2011), Santiago de Chile (2013), and Montevideo (2017), as well as the Forum of the International Sociology Association in Buenos Aires (2012).

In 2015 we realized the in-person training “Popular movements and their responsibility in public policies for the social environment”  and in 2017 the first online course Inhabiting territory from the community – Coproducing resistance to the New Urban Agenda

How do we work?

The research method we use is that of the collective production of knowledge. Through dialogue, we hope to overcome the division between academics and social actors, the latter being a necessary part of the process of investigation, not merely the “object” of study. In this way we achieve, on one hand, the end of the hierarchy between socially legitimized “scientific” knowledge and devalued “social” knowledge, and on the other hand, a greater facility for social actors to take advantage of these new forms of knowledge.

With whom do we work?

The UPU does not hope to develop these objectives on its own, but rather to contribute to the effort, generating and promoting the widest possible alliances and agreements. However, we are conscious of the fact that educational labor is not neutral, nor is it disconnected from the larger problems of a region or country. Because of this, our educational alliances must be based on precise objectives and on common vision of change.



To communicate with us, write to  upu.aih@habitants.org



Перевод этого текста выполнен добровольцем из группы за жилищные права без границ МСЖ:

Stefan Norman


Log in or create a user account to comment.