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Researcher contributes to new youth engagement project


PhD researcher Simeon Shtebunaev has written an essay that supports a new project campaigning for young peoples’ involvement in the planning of future cities.

PhD researcher Simeon Shtebunaev has written an essay that supports a new project campaigning for young peoples’ involvement in the planning of future cities.

Making the case for young people

The 10 Reasons essay makes the case for involving young people in making and manage places, and is part of a wider youth engagement toolkit called Voice Opportunity Power.

“The essay aims to help commissioners of projects, developers, planning professionals, architects, and other built environment professionals to set out the case for involving young people in their projects to their team, managers or funders,” Simeon says.

“Children and young people, especially teenagers, are a demographic that rarely gets their voice heard in development processes, often because they are not considered at the project planning phase.

“The essay tries to make the overarching point that involving young people in a long-term manner can pay off in the quality of the placemaking and attractiveness of spaces.”

The importance of young people in cities

The role of young people in future cities is a subject close to Simeon’s heart.

My own PhD research looks at this subject, researching young peoples’ role in three different countries,” he says.

“I examine the perceptions of teenagers towards smart city developments and try to understand how young people can make their voice heard in the digital age.”

Simeon became involved with the Voice Opportunity Power project after answering the call for contributions. “I felt they were missing a key part of the puzzle – the importance of the voice of young people and the role they play in their cities,” he explains.

After attending a focus group about the Voice Opportunity Power toolkit, Simeon developed his thoughts into a more substantial piece of work, which led to the essay.

The time is now

Simeon’s essay details why it’s time young people should be involved in design and planning, from their demographic size to their statutory rights.

“The essay is a short anthology of successful case studies and academic resources,” Simeon explains. “It aims to quickly and succinctly educate professionals who have hitherto not considered young people.”

Impactful research

The essay is just one of the many ways Simeon expresses his work. He’s also part of Birmingham-based youth organisation Beatfreeks’ Youth Steering Committee, and was nominated for an award in 2019.

“I always think about the impact of the research I conduct, and this project definitely demonstrated to me the value of knowledge,” Simeon says.

“I think for Birmingham City University, a university situated in one of Europe’s youngest cities, this essay can provide a practical example of how the University’s real estate can think about the voices of students and local young people in their own development projects.”