Cliff has operated as a freelance consultant since 2004. He does research, authors reports and is a facilitator and trainer. While at Heriot-Watt University he was also involved in contract research.

He has worked on numerous projects:

  • With Spatial Foresight GmbH ( ) to deliver research-based reports for the ESPON Co-ordination Unit on European territorial development and policy.
  • With the Royal Town Planning Institute ( to deliver the UK National Contact Point for the ESPON 2013 programme. 
  • As an external expert for the Royal Town Planning Institute on transnational projects within the ESPON 2013 programme.
  • For the ESPON 2013 Co-ordination Unit as a peer reviewer on Sounding Boards for research projects.
  • On European Union INTERREG projects.
  • On other European projects.
  • On Commonwealth, international and global projects.
  • On UK projects.  
Monday, 29 July 2019 11:08

Free on-line learning on cities and planning

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How to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in African cities?  How to finance urban infrastructure? What is Local Economic Development and how can it be delivered? How do you use social science to conduct urban research? These are the themes of a series of on-line learning packages provided for free by the globally respected Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies in Rotterdam.

These materials are provided as MOOCs - Massive Online Open Courses. You need to register to access them but they are free to use. 

Planning for Climate Change in African Cities was first launched in 2017. There is an introduction to it here. It introduces climate change and its connection to urbanisation, and explains how to set priorities for action by local governments.  The lack of capacity for planning  is an issue across much of Africa, and there are limited opportunities for established professionals to update their knowledge and skills, so this open access module is particularly valuable.

Getting infrastructure right is crucial for effective planning of urbanisation, as we argued in Leading Change, which is also free to download. The MOOC that deals with Financing Infrastructure in African Cities explains how to mobilise local revenues, and the potential of partnerships, and financial decision-making.

 The Local Economic Development course runs 8 weeks and the themes of these are:

1.    What is LED? What drives it?
2.    How does globalization shape LED?
3.    How does decentralisation affect LED?
4.    How does competitiveness affect innovation?
5.    What are entrepreneurship and its dimensions?
6.    Why are value chains and clusters so important?
7.    What are some LED strategies?
8.    Your project.

Studying Cities is the most recent of the four MOOCs. It provides "the basic knowledge needed for any Master-level programme. The unique twist to this MOOC is the urban and local development orientation, which makes it perfect for current and future professionals who wish to work in an urban context."

There are lectures, videos, quizes and intractive discussion forums.



Read 4698 times Last modified on Monday, 29 July 2019 11:59

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