Meet our researchers: interview with Diego Galego
In the summer of 2021, we presented the Smart City Institute's research through a series of videos introducing our researchers, their background and research areas. Since then, our team has evolved and we have welcomed new researchers. Among them is Diego Galego, who joined our team a few months ago. What if we introduce him to you?
Diego, to start with, can you tell us a little bit more about your background?
Certainly. At the beginning of my academic career, I obtained a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy in Brazil before starting a Master's in Communication/Multimedia between Portugal and Italy. During my master’s study, I discovered the literature on Smart Cities, as during this period I was working on the subject of Smart Campuses .
Since my experience as a high school teacher in Brazil, I have been convinced that education is one of the main levers to change society. This conviction made me to decide in pursuing my academic career by completing a PhD thesis in public policy and social sciences. I spent 4 years (three in Belgium at the KU Leuven Public Governance Institute and one in Portugal at the University of Aveiro) studying how social movements influence public policy-making.
In October 2022, a few months after defending my PhD thesis, I joined the Smart City Institute. In the meantime, I was also a research assistant at the University of Lisbon in the Centre for Public Administration and Public Policy.
Can you explain why you decided to focus on the Smart City topic?
And in this context, what is your research project at the Smart City Institute ?
In concrete terms, the policy-making process is commonly divided into 5 phases:
- Agenda setting
- Decision making
In concrete terms, how do you go about conducting your research?
What is the implication of your research in other fields?
My research is of interest to policymakers in order to understand what is missing in public policies to promote sustainable urban development. Indeed, my research helps to identify and understand what strategies were deployed in different parts of the world to create sustainable urban development. Also, it identifies the importance of taking into account the context and territorial specificities (e.g. differences between the global North and South). In short, my research contributes to clarifying these nuances in how international public policy on sustainable urban development is created.
What about your collaborations with other researchers?
At the moment, I am working closely with several of my colleagues at the Smart City Institute. Firstly, with Pr. Nathalie Crutzen and Dr. Giovanni Esposito to create a research database consisting of a review of the scientific literature using the keywords "sustainable urban development" and to write a first paper about this topic based on the policy cycle framework.
Next step will be to develop another paper involving other colleagues, like Dr. Jessica Clement, about the divergences and convergences that can exist between the Global North and South perspectives about sustainable urban development by analysing specific cases. Finally, of course, I have talked with other researchers of the Smart City Institute, such as Dr. Lama Alarda, who is also working on the Global South perspective, or with Benoit Ruysschaert, about the link between circular economy and Smart Cities in a city branding context.
I also collaborate with other universities and research centres such as the Center of public administration and policy (ULB), the Public Governance Institute (KU Leuven), the Leuven Urban Studies Institute (KU Leuven) and with other researchers and professors in other countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, and Switzerland).Pour le moment, je travaille étroitement avec plusieurs de mes collègues du Smart City Institute. Premièrement, avec le et le pour créer une base de données pour la recherche consistant en une revue de la littérature scientifique en utilisant les mots-clés « sustainable urban development » et d’en faire un premier papier sur base du cadre du cycle des politiques publiques.
As you know, at the SCI we also work a lot on how to enrich the fieldwork with our research. Can you tell us how you see the synergies between your work and more applied research?
My theoretical research could lead to collaborations and deliverables for applied research by developing more empirical research through, for example, discussions with associations and policymakers at local and regional levels on specific topics to boost sustainable urban development in our case in Wallonia.
It could also be envisaged to develop manuals, in a more accessible language, with guidelines for developing a public policy for sustainable urban development on the one hand, and for encouraging the involvement of the different actors in the policy-making process on the other. Other activities could also be organised to promote the results of this research, for example presentations, workshops, training programmes, etc.
To conclude: how do you see the years to come in doing research?
Overall, I would like to see research in the public policy and administration field evolve towards greater clarity and, above all more significant societal impact.
From a more personal point of view, I have several more or less long-term objectives. Firstly, I would like to become a Professor of Public Policy. Secondly, I would like to stimulate collaborations between universities and civil society in order to connect academic research to the practical field a bit more. At the same time, I would like to create a virtual university to train citizens in public policy in a more accessible way, via an online platform.
Finally, in the short term, I will continue to develop my research and promote it through publications and international conferences.
A very last question: would you have one or two readings to recommend to our readers to start with Smart Cities?
Yes, of course! 2 articles come to mind quite quickly :
The first one is a paper published by colleagues from the Smart City Institute (Dr. R. Kummitha & Prof. Dr. N Crutzen) in 2017 under the title "How do we understand Smart Cities? An evolutionary perspective". This paper aims to understand how Smart Cities differ in their meanings, intentions and offerings. An excellent introduction to the subject!
The second paper is entitled "Understanding 'smart cities': Intertwining development drivers with desired outcomes in a multidimensional framework" and deals with the concept of Smart City and its challenges and opportunities in the face of the global challenges facing our territories. This paper proposes a multidimensional framework that broadens the understanding of the Smart City concept beyond a purely techno-centric approach.