Next Article in Journal
The Contribution of Energy-Optimized Urban Planning to Efficient Resource Use–A Case Study on Residential Settlement Development in Dhaka City, Bangladesh
Next Article in Special Issue
Sustainability of Social Housing in Asia: A Holistic Multi-Perspective Development Process for Bamboo-Based Construction in the Philippines
Previous Article in Journal
Development and Urban Sustainability: An Analysis of Efficiency Using Data Envelopment Analysis
Previous Article in Special Issue
True Green and Sustainable University Campuses? Toward a Clusters Approach
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Sustainability 2016, 8(2), 144; doi:10.3390/su8020144

Cities and Systemic Change for Sustainability: Prevailing Epistemologies and an Emerging Research Agenda

1
Department of Urban Planning and Engineering, Yonsei University, Seodaemun-gu, Sincheon-dong, 50 Yonsei-ro, Seoul 03722, Korea
2
Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Postbus 1738, Rotterdam 3000 DR, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Thorsten Schuetze, Hendrik Tieben, Lorenzo Chelleri and York Ostermeyer
Received: 30 November 2015 / Revised: 18 January 2016 / Accepted: 22 January 2016 / Published: 4 February 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards True Smart and Green Cities?)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [549 KB, uploaded 4 February 2016]   |  

Abstract

Cities are key for sustainability and the radical systemic changes required to enable equitable human development within planetary boundaries. Their particular role in this regard has become the subject of an emerging and highly interdisciplinary scientific debate. Drawing on a qualitative literature review, this paper identifies and scrutinizes the principal fields involved, asking for their respective normative orientation, interdisciplinary constitution, theories and methods used, and empirical basis to provide orientations for future research. It recognizes four salient research epistemologies, each focusing on a distinct combination of drivers of change: (A) transforming urban metabolisms and political ecologies; (B) configuring urban innovation systems for green economies; (C) building adaptive urban communities and ecosystems; and (D) empowering urban grassroots niches and social innovation. The findings suggest that future research directed at cities and systemic change towards sustainability should (1) explore interrelations between the above epistemologies, using relational geography and governance theory as boundary areas; (2) conceive of cities as places shaped by and shaping interactions between multiple socio-technical and social-ecological systems; (3) focus on agency across systems and drivers of change, and develop corresponding approaches for intervention and experimentation; and (4) rebalance the empirical basis and methods employed, strengthening transdisciplinarity in particular. View Full-Text
Keywords: cities; sustainability; socio-technical systems (STS); social-ecological systems (SES); system transformation; system transition; resilience; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity; epistemology cities; sustainability; socio-technical systems (STS); social-ecological systems (SES); system transformation; system transition; resilience; interdisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity; epistemology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Wolfram, M.; Frantzeskaki, N. Cities and Systemic Change for Sustainability: Prevailing Epistemologies and an Emerging Research Agenda. Sustainability 2016, 8, 144.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Sustainability EISSN 2071-1050 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top