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Cultural diversity research awarded the Peter Harrison Memorial Prize

Posted December 07, 2023

SGS Economics and Planning Superdiversity 2

SGS Economics and Planning and the Australian National University were recently honoured with the prestigious Peter Harrison Memorial Prize for a research paper investigating 'superdiversity' in Australian cities, marking a significant milestone in understanding the intricate dynamics of urban multiculturalism.

The prize is awarded to a research paper that makes a distinct contribution to knowledge and capacity for the ecologically sustainable development of Australasian cities and regions.

The team was awarded the prize at the State of Australasian Cities Conference in Wellington on 7 December 2023.

The paper ‘Rising Superdiversity in Urban Australia’ defines and measures superdiversity and its stability in Australian cities.

Superdiversity describes places characterised by communities that are diverse in multiple ways, including religious, cultural, economic, age or gender diversity, among others. Generally, the primary form of diversity in these neighbourhoods is cultural diversity. One of the lead authors of the paper, and Senior Associate and Partner at SGS, Kishan Ratnam, said:

Our research shows that urban areas in Australia are becoming increasingly diverse. The data makes it clear that a wide range of diverse communities are living in proximity.

— Kishan Ratnam, SGS Senior Associate and Partner

Superdiversity has implications for how neighbourhoods are planned. Policy should consider the diverse needs of communities to achieve the best outcomes for all.

With the right planning, superdiversity leads to beneficial outcomes. Areas that are well-planned give their residents a better opportunity to understand and negotiate differences and, ultimately, see diversity as part of everyday life.

Infrastructure and services should accommodate superdiversity, whether it be through public spaces, public schools, or community-based services.

This study shows that superdiversity is now a defining characteristic of Australian cities. Urban policy goals and considerations would benefit from paying more attention to this fact.

SGS is honoured to have the importance of this work recognised. Kishan Ratnam commented:

It’s an incredible privilege to receive this prize. Everyone who collaborated on this paper believes in places that help diversity thrive. To have our research validated in this way means a lot.

The team at SGS worked alongside Dr Hayley Henderson and Professor Helen Sullivan at Australia National University.

Beyond presenting findings, the paper offers a novel method for identifying superdiversity in urban areas.

SGS is committed to producing rigorous evidence to inform public policy. Investing in this research project and working with academics means our team builds the skills and insights needed to shape cities and regions for a brighter future. This is part of our purpose as an employee-owned public policy advisory firm and agents for change.

Interested in this topic?

This research is related to another article that looks into the economic advantages of cultural diversity in Australia, emphasising its positive impact on various sectors, such as education, business, tourism, and innovation.

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