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My Impressions from the 9th Child in the City World Conference in Vienna

Author: Marija Malovic, University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Pedagogy and Andragogy


This September I had a great pleasure to attend “The 9th Child in the City World Conference”, one of the leading conferences on child friendly policies and research. The conference was held in Vienna 24-26 September, bringing together 340 delegates from 47 countries around the world including New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Jordan, and many others. I had the honour of being the only representative from Serbia.

Participation in this conference came as a prize for winning the SHARE. CONNECT. impACT competition organised by project PERFORM. In addition to this wonderful prize, this competition provided me with a unique opportunity to present my PhD thesis to the public, exchange experiences with my colleagues and broaden my network. It was a great honour to be the winner of the first SHARE. CONNECT. Impact and I hope that next year's event will be organised in the same format, as I think it is extremely useful for PhD students in the field of social sciences. PERFORM team was instrumental in helping us prepare for the event and work on our presentational skills.

As my PhD thesis is on the pedagogical potential of city playgrounds for pre-school children, I am very grateful to PERFORM for giving me an opportunity to choose and attend one of the leading conferences in my field. During the event’s three days, there were presentations and discussions based on the practical experience of projects from all over the world. I had the opportunity to hear numerous inspirational ideas and get a lot of information that will be important to me in conceiving my doctoral thesis, but also in further professional development. The information I gathered at the conference will be a significant resource in my further research. In addition, I had the opportunity to exchange views with some of the leading researchers and practitioners in the area that interests me as a researcher. The contacts I made during the conference will be very important to me for professional development.

However, the highlight of the conference for me personally was meeting Tim Gill. Tim Gill is an independent scholar, advocate and consultant on childhood. He focuses on the changing nature of children’s play and free time, and their evolving relationships with the people and places around them. I have been following his work from the beginning of my research and having the opportunity to meet him was one of the biggest benefits of participating in this conference. He was one of the keynote speakers at the conference, and it was a pleasure to listen to his presentation on lessons from Europe, and Canada on what a truly child-friendly city looks like.

Another interesting and very useful feature of the conference was a number of field trips to child-friendly places across the city. A visit to the Robinson Playground was especially significant for me, as it is not “just” a classical adventure playground, but a playground that combines constructing and building with the spirit of nature/environmental education and a holistic approach toward enabling children to live together with the natural environment there. The Playground is an attractive place to be for children and the animals that live there. The visitors saw the balance of designed and undersigned spaces, the many buildings and constructions that were planned and designed together with children. 

I am so grateful to PERFORM, as otherwise, I would have never had a chance to participate in a conference like this. This was my first participation in such a well-organised, world conference, and I am overwhelmed with positive impressions. I feel inspired by the colleagues from around the world and the work that they do. Everything I learned at the conference will inform my research and help me improve the quality of my thesis. 

The Child in the City Foundation organises the Child in the City World Conference every two years and the next one is scheduled for 2020 in Dublin. I am already starting preparations for participating at that conference, hopefully not just as an attendee, but as a presenter as well.