Cities and sustainable places
This research programme provides an independent hub to help address specific issues and concerns related to sustainable place making in towns, cities and related places. It offers cross cutting research to guide policy and practice.
Our researchers engage with an inclusive view to place-based resilience, social cohesion, urban metabolism, climate change, active travel, food security and energy transitions, etc. We consider transformation of urban cultures in terms of the reinvigorating links between human settlements and the neighbouring ecosystems, especially through the people-environment relationship with sustainability objectives based on comprehensive, integrated and socio-ecological understanding of local resources.
The work also looks at specific processes relating to a range and types of places including national parks, nature reserves, city-regions, urban and rural communities, food producing regions, and urban regeneration initiatives, to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a particular emphasis on the following integrating areas:
Social innovation for place-based development
With a focus on improving the quality of life, liveability and resilience, the work is based on satisfaction of basic needs of people, improvement in social relations and socio-political empowerment of citizens. Social innovation research is pivotal across the work of the Institute, especially in relation to social and ecological transformations. It has a key role to play in the processes of development in the quest to create more sustainable lifestyles and systems of consumption and production. The work further looks at diverse issues around: Sustainable mobility, environmental hazards, urban food systems, low-carbon futures, energy vulnerabilities, ethnicity and entrepreneurship.
Urban and regional governance
The research focus is on policies and practices oriented towards building and exploring sense(s) of place among individuals and communities through inclusive deliberation, innovation and adaptation promoting participatory planning, politics, policymaking and practice especially through interconnected and bottom-linked approaches. The work further looks at:
- Governance systems and their interaction with other ecological and social systems and the resulting issues related to the role of public organisations and agencies, civil society and stakeholder participation, co-production, capacity building and value transformation in promoting transitions towards sustainable places
- Governance for sustainable global environment, including biodiversity and climate change, particularly in relation to the understanding, and communication of risk at urban, regional and national levels.
Spatial Design Network Analysis (sDNA)
Spatial Design Network Analysis (sDNA) is a standard method for analysing spatial networks. sDNA is an academic, government and commercial project which originated at the School of Geography and Planning and the Sustainable Places Research Institute. As a world leading spatial network analysis software, compatible with both GIS and CAD, sDNA uses the industry standard network representation to produce metrics that correlate to human health, community cohesion, land values, town centre vitality, pedestrian and cyclist flows, land use, traffic volumes, accidents and crime.