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Special Issue "Putting Sustainability Transitions into Spatial and Socio-Cultural Context"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 January 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Markus Egermann

Leibniz-Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability transition; grassroots innovations; planning; transition theory; role of civil society in sustainability transitions; local and regional governance
Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niki Frantzeskaki

Dutch Research Institute For Transitions (DRIFT), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sustainability transitions; urban environmental governance; scenario and pathways planning and research; nature based solutions; transition experiments; experimentation; urban living labs; knowledge co-production
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Robert Knippschild

Leibniz-Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden, Germany & Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: strategies and instruments for sustainable urban development; border cities; quality of life in cities and regions; inter-municipal and cross-border cooperation; urban and regional governance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue sheds light on the role of the spatial and socio-cultural context in sustainability transitions in cities and city-regions. We position that transition pathways towards sustainability will look fundamentally different in different socio, cultural, and spatial settings across cities and regions, but also within cities. The urban environment, as a diverse socio-cultural and political context, provides the ground to shape innovations, to give rise to new forms of social organization and new cultural and political movements for sustainability in practice. As such, challenges, opportunities, change dynamics, political agendas, grassroots actions, power constellations, actors and many other aspects that are relevant for a sustainability transition differ in large, medium and small cities, as well as in villages and rural areas. Even between different urban districts, change dynamics may differ considerably. We recognize this diversity and want to further examine how it plays out in creating different forms of urban transitions and pathways to urban sustainability.

We invite papers that help us to paint a more differentiated picture on how change dynamics might be stimulated, initiated, stabilizes and accelerated in different contexts within cities and across cities and regions. This includes theoretical and conceptual contributions, empirical evidence from single but preferably from multiple case studies and comparative case studies as well as papers on methods and tools to capture and map the spatial dimensions of sustainability transitions. We invite contributions from a diversity of geographies and contexts (reporting different sizes of cities) to provide grounds for our special issue working hypothesis that diversity of context, drives diversity in sustainability transitions’ patterns and pathways. Papers can deal with all possible sustainability domains (food, energy, mobility, etc.) but should highlight the socio, cultural or spatial implications and how they relate to context-specific sustainability challenges and aspirations. Papers that derive recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and urban change makers are particularly welcome.

One or more of the following research questions should be addressed:

  1. How do socio, cultural and spatial factors influence urban transitions to sustainability? What are the distinct drivers and barriers to urban sustainability transitions?
  2. How urban sustainability innovations and innovative solutions in particular shape spatial factors and urban politics in the course of urban sustainability transitions?
  3. How do transition dynamics and pathways towards sustainability differ in large, medium and small cities as well as in villages and rural areas?
  4. What is the role of different actors (citizen, public, private) and especially of community initiatives in large, medium and small cities as well as in villages and rural areas in urban sustainability transitions?
  5. What are strategies and mechanisms to stimulate, initiate, stabilize and accelerate sustainability transitions in large, medium and small cities as well as in villages and rural areas?
  6. What are the different governance approaches that can contribute to and navigate the complex context of urban sustainability transitions? What are conceptual and/or empirically-based propositions for new governance approaches to steer, facilitate and accelerate urban sustainability transitions?
  7. What are the paradoxes and/or oxymora in the way spatial configurations of cities influence the speed and course of urban sustainability transitions? What are critical reflection points or proposition to consider for future research in urban sustainability transitions?

Dr. Markus Egermann
Prof. Dr. Assist. Niki Frantzeskaki
Prof. Dr. Robert Knippschild
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Sustainability

  • Transition

  • Spatial

  • Geography

  • Socio-Cultural

  • Urban

  • Rural

  • Policy

  • Governance

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.

Journal Contact

Sustainability Editorial Office
St. Alban-Anlage 66, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 683 77 34
Fax: +41 61 302 89 18
Editorial Board
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