Murray McKenzie MA 2013

Current Work:  PhD candidate, University College London                                                                                      

As a SCARP alumnus, I’m continuing to participate in critical academic debates about cities. I’m presently undertaking PhD research at University College London, with a comparative programme investigating arts districts as sites of contested collective memory in Beijing, London, and Vancouver.  My studies are supported by a UCL Overseas Research Scholarship and a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Concurrently, I maintain a lasting collaboration with Professors Tom Hutton (SCARP) and Trevor Barnes (UBC Geography) comparing new economic spaces in Seattle and Vancouver. The first publication associated with this research, on which I served as lead author, is forthcoming from the Journal of Urban Design. I benefitted from a two-year term as research assistant on this project, for which I led field research.

 In my own studies, I draw on my background in progressive planning practice from SCARP, from which I graduated with a Master of Arts in 2013. My thesis, on the affinity of the creative economy for heritage landscapes, was adopted for presentation at annual meetings of the Association of American Geographers in New York (2012) and Los Angeles (2013), with the support of a UBC Urban Studies Graduate Research Award. More recently, I’ve travelled to Berlin to participate in a workshop on controversies around creativity in cities.

 As an academic, however, one of my greatest strengths is my capacity to translate ideas into real planning outcomes. SCARP has instilled me with a far more practical, transdisciplinary, and solutions-based outlook than I would otherwise have. The diversity of its faculty and student body has reinforced my awareness of the importance of a holistic and inclusive approach to sustainable community planning.