6a. Urban and regional transformations

Track Chairs

Goals and Objectives of the Track

Cities and regions are of critical importance to move societies from a state of perpetual and aggravating social-ecological crises towards sustainability. The current pandemic has contributed to further accentuate their role as spatial subjects and arenas of change to achieve a wide range of interconnected transformations e.g. in terms of land use, biodiversity, water, energy, mobility, food, built environment, health, education or digitalization, among others. Deeply entrenched systemic configurations causing multiple sustainability and justice deficits have become widely visible, illustrating the urgency of, but also resistances to faster and disruptive societal innovation. 

Urban and regional transformations are thus about such deep, path-deviant changes simultaneously affecting ecological, technological, institutional, cultural and practice dimensions within or across diverse action and knowledge domains. Research in this field has been particularly interested in unpacking how complex dynamics of place as well as relations across territories, scales and networks play out in acknowledging, questioning and ultimately reshaping current patterns of inertia or “lock-in”, connecting the above dimensions in and through spatial relations, and from the individual to collective levels.

This track aims to bring together contributions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and global contexts to juxtapose and advance current understandings of urban and regional transformations. Authors may draw on conceptual and methodological developments or empirical studies (comparative and longitudinal ones are especially welcome). Research concerning the drivers and opportunities, the resistances and obstacles, as well as the patterns, processes and dynamics of such transformations is particularly relevant.

Key topics may therefore include, but are not limited to:

  • Transformative agency and agents including particular forms of (individual or collective) leadership, entrepreneurship, brokerage, intermediation, etc.
  • Governance innovations enhancing transformation by e.g. altering participation, competencies, centrality, in/formality, empowerment, etc.
  • Transformative strategies, policies, initiatives and actions pursued by collective agents such as communities, cities and regions
  • Experimentation and innovation formats and spaces e.g. involving labs or other innovation ecosystem settings  for transdisciplinary foresight, co-creation, co-design, co-evaluation etc.
  • Amplification of existing transformative initiatives and innovations e.g. through policies or interventions for deepening, broadening, upscaling etc.
  • Transformative capacity and its identification, evaluation and targeted development
  • Digitalization and ‘smart’ human-technology relations regarding their rolein any/all of the above topics
  • Broader and cumulative adverse societal conditions for urban and regional transformation e.g. lack of trust in government, markets and other institutions, destabilization of the state, or armed conflicts

which in turn examine e.g.:

  • Place-making and place-based relations considering identities or sense of place and their time-bound, socio-spatial and intersectional characteristics
  • Cross-domain spatial relations linking e.g. energy/mobility/built environs/health, food/biodiversity/land use, etc.
  • Multi-scalar spatial and multi-level authority relations regarding the transformation synergies or frictions they create
  • Territorial and translocal relations concerning the role and influence of borders and boundaries, as well as (national or global) networks of urban and regional places
  • Longer term or emerging future pathways of urban and regional transformations identified in retrospective or prospective studies (e.g. scenarios)

Length and content of the proposed abstract to the track

Each proposed abstract (in connection to an area pointed out above) of between 300 and 500 words (including all aspects),

  1. shall be best organized (without headlines) along usual structures (e.g. intro/method/findings or results/ discussion/conclusions)
  2. does not need to, but can include references
  3. shall provide in a final section
    a. to which SDG(s) and SDG-target(s) their proposed abstract especially relate to (e.g. “SDG+Target: 14.1.”).
    b. a brief indication how the proposed contribution relates to the topic of the Conference (“ACCELERATING PROGRESS TOWARDS SDG’s IN TIMES OF CRISIS”).

Abstracts which do not outline points 3.a.) AND 3.b.) might not be given special consideration in the selection for potential publications and might be considered less relevant in the Review.

Potential publication channels

Full paper contributions of high novelty and quality will be considered for submission as a thematic collection (special issue) in Urban Transformations https://urbantransformations.biomedcentral.com/about


Please submit your abstract by visiting the abstract submission system (you will be required to setup an account first) at 

Extended deadline for abstracts: 15 February 2021