Urban Transitions and Transformations

Our group hopes to convene a structured, pluralistic debate about how to understand and foster ‘whole-system’ change for urban sustainability. We hope to accommodate and foster dialogue between a range of discourses in science and policy that address urban transitions and transformations.

The STRN community has increasingly been paying attention to the spatial dimensions of sustainability transitions. It’s most recent research agenda identifies ‘geography’ as one out of nine major themes, and points out three specifically urban research topics: ‘urban experimentation’, ‘smart cities’ and ‘urban infrastructure obduracy’. However, there is scope for considering a much broader range of issues, given the salience of urbanisation as a cross-cutting sustainability challenge, the diversity of urban sustainability transformations and transformations across the globe, and the corresponding potentials for scientific and practical advances.

Moreover, there is a rich body of diverse conceptual and empirical contributions about far-reaching transitions and/or transformations in relation to urban sustainability, such as: urban and regional studies, urban ecology, urban governance, urban design, planning, architecture and landscape architecture, urban sociology, political ecology, urban metabolism, urban mobility, to name but a few. These could all help to develop new knowledge for understanding and shaping broader societal sustainability transitions and transformations.

We hope to create a space that enables the transitions community to benefit from theoretical debates regarding the intersection between the ‘urban’ and ‘systemic change’, including existing transitions frameworks. There is considerable conceptual fragmentation and contradiction in the current literature, with a burgeoning volume of empirical material but less aggregation, cross-case comparison or theoretical development. The Urban Transitions and Transformations thematic group will advance interdisciplinary engagements and reflection through scientific activities, e.g. at IST conferences, but would also seek to raise the profile of and foster engagement with transitions research among urban researchers, professionals and policy-makers more generally.

At the moment, we are in the process of establishing our community, defining our priorities. We will facilitate networking among researchers, supporting continuous debate and the development of a shared research agenda.

We welcome anyone interested in contributing to the group. For general enquiries, please contact urban.transitions.strn(at)gmail.com (Marc Wolfram). To join the UTT mailing list, please email urban-transitions-strn+subscribe(at)groups.io (administrators: Emilia Smeds and Jonas Torrens).

Future activities of this group:

  •    Organise a series of conference sessions at IST 2019 in Ottawa, based on a structured research agenda
  •    Establish online exchange formats: webinars, blog, social media
  •    Personal exchange formats: annual STRN conference sessions, other conference sessions, workshops, seminars
  •    Joint publishing: papers, special issues, edited volumes
  •    Contributions from and updates about the thematic group in the STRN newsletter
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