Tuesday 8 December 2015
Second year students have been conducting field research with the community organisation Citizens UK, focusing on issues of the so-called ‘housing crisis’ in Tower Hamlets.
The research forms a key part of the module Geographical Research in Practice in which students learn research methods in the classroom before applying them to a real research project. Over 11 weeks, students carried out focus groups and interviews with 150 local residents, asking questions about housing conditions, landlords, affordability, and gentrification.
Dr Regan Koch and Dr Stephen Taylor, who lead the module, have been impressed with both the results of the research and the approach of the students. “Geographers here at QMUL have a reputation for the relevance and rigor of their research, and through this module we’ve seen students tackling one of the most pressing issues in London today,” said Dr Koch. “I’ve been blown away by the quality of the findings,” said Dr Taylor. “Our students have brought to light stories of rogue landlords and even mushrooms growing in perennially damp flats, but they’ve also identified some promising local initiatives underway in the area that aspire to ‘do’ housing differently.”
Students concluded the module by presenting the findings of their research to an audience of students, local residents and staff from the local Tower Hamlets branch of Citizens UK. “The project doesn’t end with the submission of an essay,” said Dr Taylor, “the findings will go on to contribute to Citizens UK projects underway across East London and we hope that the research will directly feed into local housing debates during the 2016 London mayoral election.”