Tracks and accepted panels

The EURA 2020 conference will focus on the dynamics of underlying contradictions that are generative for urban life, and thus contributing to shaping its futures. Even though cities are facing many of the same contradictions, they are recognized, problematized, politicized and handled in different ways, and consequently exert differing influences on urban life.

Rather than focusing on visions about urban futures such as “smart city”, “just cities”, “green cities”, “ sustainable city”, “environmental healthy cities”, “global city” et cetera, the objective of EURA 2020 is to better understand the underlying ambiguities and contradictions that shape how these urban visions are handled.

Oslo Metropolitan University and the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research welcomes scholars in the field of urban studies to contribute with abstracts.

Main tracks

  1. Wealth vs. poverty
  2. Sustainable vs. unsustainable urban development and growth vs degrowth
  3. Representative democracy vs. network governance vs. populism
  4. Inclusionary and tolerant vs. exclusionary and intolerant cities
  5. The multiethnic urban community vs. the ethnically divided city
  6. Creative urban methods

Topics addressed in the tracks serve as signposts only, and do not exclude other perspectives on the kinds of ambiguities and contradictions that shape urban futures.

Accepted panels

The following panels have been accepted to the EURA 2020 conference by this year’s scientific committee.

  • Art’s Relationship with Urban Development: Marvel or Menace? (Track 1)
  • Beyond the buzzwords: Limits to ‘co-creation’ and ‘democratic governance’ (Track 3)
  • Degrowth Cities: Towards a radical urban degrowth agenda for future cities (Track 2)
  • Development of city climate leadership strategies in the context of climate urgency and social protests (Track 3)
  • Diversity, reform and social cohesion in Ukrainian cities and towns (Track 5)
  • Inclusive Growth and Cohesion Policies in the face of rising Inequalities in Europe (Track 1)
  • Interventions for urban upgrading – governance challenges (Track 2)
  • Local Government Research in Europe: Geographies of Knowledge (Track 3)
  • Metropolitan governance (Track 2)
  • Practices of Urban Commoning (Track 6)
  • Social Sustainability in the SMART City (Track 3)
  • Sustainable adaptive reuse of built heritage (Track 2)
  • The Challenges and Opportunities in Adopting Design-Driven Approaches in Planning Processes (Track 6)
  • ‘The Old vs. the New’: Material and Temporal Contradictions in Urban Development (Track 2)
  • Transformation of urban food systems (Track 2)
  • Urban and regional planning – promises and prospects (Track 2)

Read the full panel abstracts below.

Panel Abstracts

Track 1: Wealth vs. poverty

Track chairs:

  • Kim Astrup, Senior Researcher, NIBR, OsloMet
  • Karsten Zimmermann, Professor, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany

Poverty is not only a result of low incomes, but also high living costs. Urban growth increases housing demand and imposes spatial constraints for new housing construction, which in turn inflate house prices and correspondingly living costs. However, house prices tend to exhibit considerable intra-urban variation. As low-income households gravitate towards low-cost areas within urban regions, neighborhoods tend to be segregated by income and/or ethnicity and the level of public services. This pattern of spatial segregation raises issues of social sustainability and spatial inequality. On the other hand, residential integration does not necessarily ensure social integration and a sense of local community across socioeconomic and ethnic divisions. We invite theoretical as well as empirical papers, comparative work is most welcome.  


  • How do the tensions between wealth and poverty affect cities and citizens?
  • How are tensions between wealth and poverty understood, addressed and handled in and by cities? What are the consequences for social and spatial equality?
  • Does socio-economic mixing promote social integration or social alienation? What role does ethnicity play in this regard?

Accepted panels:

  • Art’s Relationship with Urban Development: Marvel or Menace?
  • Inclusive Growth and Cohesion Policies in the face of rising Inequalities in Europe

Panel: Art’s Relationship with Urban Development: Marvel or Menace?

  • Panel Chair: Tijen Tunali, Freie Universität Berlin

Gentrification and displacement arguably form the key components of urban growth strategies. For the last four decades, art has been an integral part of the neoliberal governance and policies for new urban development to aid social and economic outcomes, boost the economic environment of post-industrial cities, energize communities and neighborhoods and raise real estate values. Hence, the studies on art and gentrification have acknowledged a straightforward role of the artists in the changing urban landscape, often disregarding the complex relationship of art to power and resistance. They have also often overlooked the actual artistic practices and their effects on the public’s perceptual, physical and political encounters with the urban space.

This multidisciplinary panel extends the discussion about the contradictions and complexities of artistic disposition in the gentrifying urban environment by analyzing art’s relations to both cultural capital and the bottom-up resistance in the city. It focuses on the questions: How does art take part in gentrification? How could artistic expressions in the urban space reveal, delimit, question and resist the complexity of neoliberal urbanization? How can art produce new narratives of social organization in the gentrified urban space? The papers will examine how art takes part in the advancement of gentrification and displacement but also subverts the experience of the gentrified urban space, reveals the hegemonic and counterhegemonic interactions among different actors of the urban space, and empowers the communities in the anti-gentrification resistance.

Panel: Inclusive Growth and Cohesion Policies in the face of rising Inequalities in Europe

  • Panel Chairs: Carolina Pacchi, Politecnico di Milano; Rob Atkinson, UWE; Wirginia Aksztejn, Warsaw University

The discussion about the link between growth and distribution has a long history in the economic development debate. Over the last fifteen years, the concept of inclusive growth has become a recurring theme in urban and regional policy at different scales, from the OECD (2014 & 2018) to the EU, to local decision-making. However, the notion has been understood in a variety of different ways. In the EU, in particular, since the launch of the ‘Europe 2020 Strategy (CEC, 2010) for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ in 2010 the inclusive growth discourse has been articulated with the idea of building a ‘cohesive society’ through careful growth paths.

In rhetorical terms this has characterised the debate concerning the design and implementation of Cohesion Policy. However, this is arguably an approach that deploys a variant of neoliberalism that prioritises economic growth and competitiveness (see Olsen, 2013; Atkinson and Zimmermann, 2018), and notions such as inclusive growth are subordinate to and designed to support this overriding imperative. In this approach inclusive growth is justified in terms of investments in human and social capital which are seen as long-term (economic) investments that will enhance economic growth and competitiveness. Similarly the OECD (2018) approach emphasises the need to enhance competitiveness through improvements in innovation and productivity.

Nevertheless other approaches emphasise a policy discourse that is distributional, focusing on growth patterns able to reduce increasing inequalities in status and opportunities between different segments of society and/or between regions, or between metropolitan areas and rural hinterlands (see for instance Clayton et al.; JRF, 2017). What is frequently missing in such discourses is a precise operationalisation of the concept (Lee, 2019), and the assessment of the actual ability on the part of local and regional authorities to actually deliver inclusive growth through their plans and policies.

The aim of the panel is to critically discuss how the inclusive growth concept and has been used in current policy in European cities and regions, starting from a few key (but not exhaustive) questions:

  1. What is the meaning of inclusive growth in actual local development and urban policies?
  2. What actors are involved in the design and implementation of inclusive growth policies, and through which governance arrangements?
  3. How have the (potentially) diverging objectives of growth and inclusion been weighted and balanced in actual policies?
  4. How local-specific variables as well as different structures of multilevel governance influence the outcomes of territorial cohesion policies?

Track 2: Sustainable vs unsustainable urban development, growth vs degrowth

Track chairs:

  • Daniel Galland, Assoc. Professor, NMBU
  • Gro Sandkjær Hanssen, Research Professor NIBR, OsloMet
  • Marta Lackowska, University of Warsaw, Poland

Sustainable urban development models, strategies, policies and tools are operating in nearly every geographical and political context around the world. Urban spatial development and growth measures of cities are essential as they influence economic performance, public health conditions, and determine social cohesion and segregation. These measures vary widely in different geographical contexts as regards available approaches, policy instruments and forms of implementation. Compact city policies, for instance, focus on reducing the negative impacts of urban development on the surrounding environment, while green cities place emphasis on green infrastructure and local self-supply within cities themselves. Differences in policy interventions and planning practices are largely due to the miscellaneous drivers that urban regions experience today: multi-locality of live-work arrangements, migration, economic pressures, concentrated growth and transport challenges. We invite papers that reflect on contemporary trajectories in urban development and growth.


  • How are cities and their surroundings balancing their growth/degrowth ambitions with the need for social and environmental sustainability?
  • How is the balance between the urban core and its surrounding suburbs, cities, villages and rural areas addressed and coordinated? 
  • How do the tensions between past and futures affect urban development on the one hand and belonging on the other?

Accepted panels:

  • Degrowth Cities: Towards a radical urban degrowth agenda for future cities
  • Interventions for urban upgrading – governance challenges
  • Metropolitan governance
  • Sustainable adaptive reuse of built heritage
  • ‘The Old vs. the New’: Material and Temporal Contradictions in Urban Development
  • Transformation of urban food systems
  • Urban and regional planning – promises and prospects

Panel: Degrowth Cities: Towards a radical urban degrowth agenda for future cities

  • Panel Chairs: Dr. Angelos Varvarousis and Dr. Federico Demaria, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology – Autonomous University of Barcelona; Prof. Hug March, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya; Prof. Maria Kaika, University of Amsterdam

The degrowth hypothesis posits that a radical and multiscalar socio-ecological transformation of society is needed in order to achieve a good life for all and a drastic reduction in resource and energy consumption. While degrowth was first developed alongside the field of ecological economics, its recent expanded agenda involves research in fields as diverse as political ecology, management and organizations, technology, and democracy.

Yet, despite its recent expansion, urban related issues have remained largely out of the analytical lens of the burgeoning degrowth literature. There have been important contributions, but they remain scattered and a consistent research agenda is missing. In a world that is being increasingly urbanized, cities are the main terrain where the future sustainability of the earth will be largely determined. Indeed, the 300 largest metropolitan economies in the world account for nearly half of all global GDP despite the fact that they are hosting a much smaller fraction of the world population. Furthermore, cities account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions. In short, cities in the post-Fordist era have been transformed into “growth machines” and urbanization should be considered as the actual driver of economic growth instead of a consequence of it.

However, cities are not only the places where the culture of growth is being produced and materialized, in actual as well as in symbolic terms, but also the locus where this culture is being contested and potentially reshaped. Alongside the privatizations, enclosures, real estate speculation, the financialization of land and housing and the crafting of the competitive, self-reliant, and “expansive” individual, cities are also the fields of experimentation with degrowth-related alternatives such as urban gardens, barter markets, solidarity schools and clinics, and workers’ coops that all point towards a more sustainable, equitable, and convivial social life and urban environment.

Against this background there is scope for more research on the question on how urbanization can be compatible with degrowth and what could be a radical urban degrowth agenda for future cities.

Panel: ‘The Old vs. the New’: Material and Temporal Contradictions in Urban Development

  • Panel Chairs: Anna-Lisa Müller, Osnabrueck University; Prof. Julia Lossau, University of Bremen

All efforts to shape urban futures are confronted with the challenge to balance between ‘the old’ and ‘the new’, between historical structures and future visions. The urban past, surfacing in people’s collective memory, in established institutional structures and practices of living in and using the city, has to be brought together with its present and future to allow for sustainable urban development. To our understanding, balancing between (what is perceived as) ‘the old’ and ‘the new’ is critical not only on the temporal, but also on the material level: Existing material and spatial urban structures such as buildings, streets, squares provide the substantial backdrop for new developments – a backdrop which is, more often than not, peculiarly resistant to change.

Against such a background, our panel aims at analyzing both the material and the temporal contradictions that characterize ‘cities in the urban age’.

  • How do practitioners of urban development address the differing, if not conflicting, temporalities of those who live in the city?
  • How do they, for instance, balance the needs of both locally established and newly incoming residents, allowing each of them to develop feelings of belonging and place attachment?
  • How do they mediate between ‘old’ and ‘new’ materialities of the built environment?

In addition, we ask critical questions on the conceptual level:

  • What do we understand as contradictions?
  • What is contradictory in what sense?
  • Who contradicts whom in what context and at what time?

Thus, the panel’s overall objective is to bring together papers that conceptually and empirically analyze and critically discuss contradictions’ temporal and material dimensions, their interrelations and the forms contradictions take on in shaping urban futures.

Panel: Sustainable adaptive reuse of built heritage

  • Panel Chairs: Magdalena Roszczynska-Kurasinska and Anna Domaradzka, Univeristy of Warsaw

The adaptive reuse of built heritage is a significant element of a sustainable development strategy mainly because it reduces consumption, which has already been produced, and is responsive to the environment. But it also has many other advantages that are less considered in urban studies, like, for example the ability to stimulate local communities. Cultural heritage is a medium of many values, including symbolic, historic, and sentiment, and as such it lies in the center of many social processes, e.g., the emergence of place identity or self-organization. In that way, any significant transformation in the character or structure of built heritage affects the perception of the place by the local community, which may have either positive or adverse effects.

The positive results would be the emergence of local pride, adaptation of new pro-environmental solutions by members of local community, development of new norms, or increased capacity for self-organization. Unfortunately, the inconsiderate to local tradition, culture and norms embodiment of adaptive reuse can have also negative long- term effects like gentrification, decreased lovability of the place, or alienation.

The optimal performance of adaptive reuse requires a comprehensive understanding of its economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts. However, it cannot be reached without the proper tools measuring the impact on urban special and social development. In this panel, we want to present both the approach and tools that have the potential of capturing the impacts of adaptive reuse of built heritage in different domains, like social and environmental.

Panel: Metropolitan governance

  • Panel Chair: Gro Sandkjær Hanssen, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslo Metropolitan University

The urban growth and climate emission goals of the Paris agreement have actualized the challenges related to metropolitan governance. The core-centric dimension of metropolitan areas implies that no local governments have the tools to address all challenges and opportunities within a metropolitan area on its own. Hence, it is hard for traditional urban planning practices to handle these challenges that go beyond the core-centric spatial patterns and beyond the jurisdictions of a single local administrative authority. A manifold of metropolitan cooperation models are emerging to compensate for this.

This panel invites papers addressing these questions, more specific:

  • What kind of metropolitan cooperation emerge, and how do the cooperation function to address mobility and climate emission issues?
  • What kind of metropolitan cooperation models and practices are developed to coordinate land-use planning?
  • How do the models integrate wider concern (social, environmental and economic sustainability)?
  • How do the models and practices ensure a fruitful interplay between the political and professional/administrative leadership in the municipalities in the metropolitan areas?
  • How is the multi-level governance dimensions ensured in the metropolitan cooperation models?

Panel: Urban and regional planning – promises and prospects

  • Panel Chair: Per Gunnar Røe, Professor, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo

Urbanization, urban sprawl and the need for climate change mitigation, has revitalised urban regional policies and planning in many city regions. Also the need to deal with urban and regional inequalities and the consequences of financialization of urban development has posed new challenges for urban regions. Some critical observers argue that the institutional changes, followed by this new regional governance, are characterized by intense social struggles over territorial, cultural and political space (Keil et al. 2017).

In this panel we aim to discuss the content, aims and implications of the “new regionalism” in land use planning, transport infrastructure and urban and suburban development. How do urban and regional plans contribute to energy transition and decarbonisation? To what extent do they imply transformations of urban, suburban and regional governance? Do these plans reorganise regional spaces and hierarchies in ways that reproduce inequalities of access and connectivity? We invite papers based on empirical or theoretical studies, in different cities, that deal with these issues, separately or in combination.

Reference: Keil, R; Hamel, P., Boudreau, J. and Kipfer, S. (2017) Governing Cities Through Regions. Canadian and European Perspectives. Winfired Laurier University Press.

Panel: Interventions for urban upgrading – governance challenges

  • Panel Chair: Einar Braathen, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslo Metropolitan University

Interventions in certain urban areas deemed “disadvantaged”, “low-income”, “substandard” etc have been in vogue for decades. They have been justified for a variety of reasons – poverty reduction (targeted), social cohesion, environmental improvements, beautification of the city. They address physical, environmental, social, economic, cultural and other infrastructures and conditions. More often than not they pursue multiple goals. The managerial and political responsibilities for the interventions have frequently been shared by authorities at multiple and different levels – community (self-management), municipal, national (state), international (EU), thus making accountability a big challenge.

Active participation by the community (residents, businesses, service providers, civic associations etc) is usually prescribed, yet in practice participation leaves a lot to desire. The results of individual interventions on the affected community/ies are usually assessed soon after the implementation has been terminated. However, long-term impacts on the communities and their wider urban and policy ramifications are rather rare. Comparisons of interventions across territories (countries and cities), policy design or types of governance might be even rarer.

This panel invites concerned scholars to come together and discuss the state-of-the-art of interventions for urban upgrading.

  • Moreover, the panel may focus on these and other issues pertaining to the governance challenges of urban upgrading interventions:
  • Empowered involvement of targeted communities and stakeholders in collaborative planning practices.
  • Democratic accountability in intervention projects with multiple managerial and/or funding authorities
  • Evaluation and review practices and their (dis-)connections to public policy learning and planning
  • Development of practical tools and knowledge resources in designing affordable and sustainable interventions

Panel: Transformation of urban food systems

  • Panel Chair: Svein Ole Borgen, Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), Oslo Metropolitan University

The panel may address these and other issues pertaining to the transformation of urban food systems:

  • Empowerment: How to nudge, engage and empower involved stakeholders in efforts to develop more sustainable food supply, food distribution and food governance in cities?
  • Sustainability: How can urban food-systems become more climate-friendly and resource-efficient?
  • Innovation- and learning methods: What characterize innovation and learning methods (intra- and interregional) that enable cities to efficiently deal with the complexity of new challenges related to urban agriculture?

Food production has traditionally been deeply embedded in the rural agricultural sphere. However, a series of economic, ecological and social constraints have set increasing pressure on conventional agro-food systems. These challenges are accompanied by criticism from citizens and consumers of these systems as to their climate friendliness, environmental sustainability, food safety, longitudinal effects on people’s health, affordability and other issues related to social justice and equality.

It is noticeable that challenges to agro-food systems must be increasingly handled in an urban setting. As the boundaries between urban and rural food systems become blurred, urban governments and authorities are forced to effectively lift agro-food provision, distribution, consumption and its externalities higher up on their agenda.

Track 3: Representative Democracy vs Network Governance vs Populism

Track chairs:

  • Jan Erling Klausen, Assoc. Professor, University of Oslo
  • Alistair Jones, Assoc. Professor, De Montfort University, Leicester, England
  • Ivan Tosics, PhD, Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest and URBACT Programme Expert

How do cities handle tensions between representative and participatory democracy, and between expert based network governance and populism? How can cities cope simultaneously with democratic practices that distribute and concentrate powers that shape joint urban futures? How can participatory democracy enhance solidarity among city dwellers?

While cities are hailed by Beauregard as ideal places for democracy to thrive, urban democracy faces pressures from several directions. Pressures from privileged elites and business interests collide with populist pressures from marginalised groups. This track explores urban democratic practice in light of issues around transparency and accountability, inclusion and exclusion. We welcome papers that investigate democratic engagement and urban/local state-society relations in the context of representative, direct democratic or collaborative governance processes.


  • How does the development of cities and networks transform urban governance?
  • How can future cities counter political exclusion based on for instance gender, ethnicity, religion, health, disabilities, sexuality or poverty?
  • How can cities nurture greater potential for direct democratic action, transparency, solidarity and conflict resolution at grassroots level?

Accepted panels:

  • Beyond the buzzwords: Limits to ‘co-creation’ and ‘democratic governance’
  • Development of city climate leadership strategies in the context of climate urgency and social protests
  • Local Government Research in Europe: Geographies of Knowledge

Panel: Development of city climate leadership strategies in the context of climate urgency and social protests

  • Panel Chairs: Trond Vedeld, Research Professor; Marianne Millstein, Senior Researcher; Hege Hofstad, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslo Metropolitan University

This panel invites empirical and theoretical papers on city climate leadership and governance. The aim is to illuminate the important role played by cities in climate governance and what forms of city leadership are critical for shaping joint, sustainable futures through the mobilization of citizens and key actors with potentially contradictory interests.

The panel starts from an understanding of climate change as a complex and contested issue that needs to be tackled by a broad array of actors in collaborative efforts at different scales. In this regard, the cities are increasingly recognized to constitute the most important arena for addressing climate issue and a crucial actor for engendering coordinated and effective collective climate actions.

The concept of co-creation – as a form of collaborative network governance for bringing actors together for some shared purpose – is in this regard particularly interesting because it transforms the traditional way of thinking about citizen participation by recognizing the need to mobilize multiple actors and diverse interests for urban collective efforts (sharing knowledge, ideas, resources).

However, in practice co-creation may face constraints, such as; climate change may not constitute the highest priority issue in town; the issue is controversial and has emerged as a key social cleavage (pro- and con-groups with left- and right-wing populist tendencies); and democratic participation of citizens may be crowded out by technocratic or under-capacitated city leadership in search of the most effective actors and solutions.

The panel invites papers addressing questions such as;

  • What characterizes city climate governance and which forms of leadership mechanisms are developed to address conflicting interests in relation to climate action and social and climate justice?
  • How do city leadership go about to convene, facilitate and catalyse collaborative arenas and networks for addressing climate transformation?
  • What stimulates and constrains city leadership to create or join city-network at local and transnational levels?
  • To what extent and in what ways do cities use transnational city-networks to increase their own climate governance capacity, stimulate innovation & learning and/or bolster own competitive strength and credibility as network partners?
  • How can co-creation and city-network participation enhance both effective climate governance and representative democracy through choice of governance approaches, relevant leadership practices, and new ways of involving citizens and business?

Panel: Beyond the buzzwords: Limits to ‘co-creation’ and ‘democratic governance’

  • Panel Chair: Savis Gohari, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

In contemporary planning, co-creation is hailed as both an influential input factor, and as a measure of legitimacy. Ideally, co-creation allows citizens to contribute novel solutions to problems and ideas for services and processes, while at the same time enabling ownership to, and agreement with, the result. This implies a democratic, governable and controllable world, where everyone gets a chance to take part in making the decisions that affect their lives, and policies neatly map out a route for implementation.

However, there are situations where democratic governance and co-creation have been misplaced, indeed deteriorated the process rather than promoting it. For instance, in situations where quick actions are required and there is no time for deliberation (e.g. emergency response to natural disasters), the democratic processes are time-consuming and resource-intensive and can hamper governments’ efficiency.

Likewise, expertise is intended to be used in the service of political empowerment of the citizens, but in many instances it paradoxically transforms the public interests into the language of planning expertise, thereby disallowing their empowerment. In such cases, terms like co-creation serve as a chimera or “camouflaged trap for the well-intentioned unwary”.

Our question is whether we can identify limits to benefits of these concepts or processes? We plan to invite four renown and experienced contributors from different sectors; the academic, public, consultancy and volunteer sectors respectively. Our aim is to explore and bridge different perspectives on ‘co-creation’ and ‘democratic governance’, preventing their politically expedient fuzziness in favor of intellectual clarity and rigor.

Panel: Local Government Research in Europe: Geographies of Knowledge

  • Panel Chair: Pawel Swianiewicz, University of Warsaw

The studies of local government in Europe are not produced evenly in all countries, especially if we consider their presence in international academic circulation through high impact factor international journals. The panel will draw from the research project referring to “dependency theory” and trying to identify core and semi-peripheries of relevant knowledge production in Europe as well as evolution over time (last two or three decades).

Using data on published articles and their citations, the papers in the panel will try to identify the dominant position of local researchers in selected European countries and their publication strategies distinguishing between:

  • Insiders (researchers being close to the core of knowledge production, generating new ideas and generalizations and publishing frequently in the best journals),
  • Imitators (scholars from semi-peripheries who test empirically ideas generated in the core, producing case studies for the existing theories and sporadically publishing in the best journals), and
  • Separatists (scholars from semi-peripheries who concentrate on local knowledge circulation in local languages and publishing in local journals, often ignoring or denying methodological standards imposed by the core).

The panel should help to identify “white spots” on the map of knowledge of local government and governance process operation.

Social sustainability in the SMART city

  • Panel Chair: Kristin Reichborn-Kjennerud, Oslo Metropolitan University

In this panel we are interested in research on municipal and state organizations’ work to further social and environmental sustainability in their cities. We are also interested in research on the results they get from this work.

In 2050, 65% of the worlds’ population will live in cities. Solutions to more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable solutions therefore will need to be found in cities.

In our panel we look for research on administrative procedures and practices public authorities use to move their organizations in a more sustainable direction. We are interested in empirical data and examples showing how municipalities (or other public organizations) use participatory democracy, public procurement, and services delivered by social entrepreneurs, or how they use living labs and other new methods to move the organization towards more sustainability. We are also interested in whether and how these efforts are successful or not, to promote sustainable urban environments.

Your contribution should in some way address how municipalities (or other public organizations) take measures to move their organization in a more sustainable direction, or how they potentially could do so. Discussions on how the organizations understand the concepts of social and environmental sustainability and how they operationalize them are also welcomed.

Track 4: Inclusionary and tolerant vs exclusionary and intolerant

Track chairs:

  • Per Gunnar Røe, Professor, University of Oslo
  • Lisbet Harboe, Assoc. Professor, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
  • Andi Nygaard, Assoc. Professor, Centre for Urban Transitions, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

Inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance are key issues when city politicians, planners and builders envision city futures and urban transitions. However, urban environments and commons, public and semi-public spaces, and neighbourhoods are often characterized by the co-existence of tolerance and intolerance, and inclusiveness and exclusiveness. These contrasts are frequently present in the everyday practices and experiences of individuals and social groups, and in the formal and informal processes of civil society and  politics. The aim of this track is to explore social practices and structures relating to tolerance and intolerance, as well as the role of policies, planning participation and interventions. 


  • How is tolerance and intolerance, and inclusiveness and exclusiveness articulated in urban environments and city futures?
  • How can urban policy, planning and design facilitate greater tolerance and inclusiveness in cities and city regions, and at different spatial scales in urban hierarchies, such as districts, neighbourhoods, public spaces and commons? What are the barriers and solutions to achieving this?
  • What theories, discourses and conceptualizations of tolerance and inclusion may be explored in urban policies and practices?
  • Whose tolerance matters, which groups are tolerated and why? When and how are exclusionary and/or inclusionary practices naturalized as part of everyday practices and politics? 

Track 5: The Multiethnic Urban Community vs the Ethnically Divided City

Track chairs:

  • Bengt Andersen, Research Professor, AFI, OsloMet
  • Paula Russell, College lecturer, University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland
  • Erika Gubrium, Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, OsloMet

Immigration is one of the main drivers for urban transformation. Cities are the main receivers of migrants and can be seen as laboratories for how to construct and find suitable solutions for the multiethnic society. Today, multiethnic or superdiverse cities are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Related, but somewhat conflicting, political and scholarly issues are inclusion – cohesion – security and exclusion – friction – insecurity. There are competing conceptualizations of the socially sustainable multiethnic city and disagreement about the policies required to (potentially) achieve such an urban society. While some cities become more polarized and residentially segregated, and seemingly put little effort into counter such developments, other cities strive to create a more inclusive urban society and a more integrated urban fabric.


  • What characterizes cities that ‘make integration work’?
  • What are the conditions for social cohesion in ethnically diverse cities?
  • What drives polarization and segregation in urban environments – and what are the social/societal, cultural, economic and political effects of such “cleavages”?

Accepted panel:

  • Diversity, reform and social cohesion in Ukrainian cities and towns

Panel: Diversity, reform and social cohesion in Ukrainian cities and towns

  • Panel Chair: Aadne Aasland, Research Professor, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslo Metropolitan University

Ukraine is a country with major ethnic, linguistic, religious, regional and socio-economic cleavages, variations around historical memories and often polarised geopolitical orientations. After the Euromaidan protests in 2013-14 that resulted in an abrupt change of government, Ukraine has introduced reforms that have the potential to politicise this diversity. This panel will examine how social cohesion in Ukrainian cities and towns is affected by reforms that have been introduced in the aftermath of Euromaidan. Ukrainian decentralisation reform involves, among others, amalgamation of smaller territorial units into larger territorial communities.

Thus, previously rather homogeneous towns could be merged with neighbouring towns and villages with a different population make-up. What is the effect of this on the local social cohesion? One controversial aspect of the new education reform is that Ukrainian gradually will become the sole language of instruction in Ukrainian public schools. How do parents and teachers living in linguistically mixed urban environments and being used to classes with instruction given in languages commonly used locally assess these reforms, and what are the consequences?

The new language legislation of 2019 strengthens the role of Ukrainian also in other public spheres. How is life in the city affected? Finally, how can one understand the interaction of identity and power at the level of diverse cities and towns in light of ongoing reforms?

The panel also welcomes papers that deal with other aspects of how ongoing reforms and political struggle in Ukraine affect ethnopolitics and social cohesion among urban populations.

Track 6: Creative urban methods

Track chairs:

  • Henry Mainsah, Researcher, Consumer Research Norway (SIFO), Oslo Metropolitan University
  • Ignazio Vinci, Assoc. Professor, University of Palermo, Italy
  • Dagny Stuedahl, Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, OsloMet

Urban researchers and practitioners are increasingly recognizing that in order to capture the variety and dynamism of urban sites and experiences across space and time, they need to be more creative and inventive in their approach to methods. New interdisciplinary methodological synergies are being developed within domains such as art, design, anthropology and architecture, implying that urban research is increasingly the result of an original combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Collaboration between academics, artists, activists, practitioners and others is spurring the invention of new methods and formats for facilitating citizen participation and new ways of impacting material and infrastructural environments. This calls for renewed focus on the repertoire of skills, craft and technologies that can be mobilized in urban research to conduct inquiry that is playful, experimental, speculative and open-ended.


  • What meaning and role do creative methods have in urban research?
  • Which techniques and devices enable these creative methods and how can they be adapted and fine-tuned?
  • How can inquiry generated using creative methods be framed epistemologically and ontologically?
  • How can the knowledge deriving from creative methods be transferred into urban policy?

Accepted panels:

  • Practices of Urban Commoning
  • The Challenges and Opportunities in Adopting Design-Driven Approaches in Planning Processes

Panel: The Challenges and Opportunities in Adopting Design-Driven Approaches in Planning Processes

  • Panel Chair: Moozhan Shakeri, Newcastle University

In the age of data capitalism, design-driven innovations and disruptive creativity, wide range of fields, from Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) to theater and game design, are involved in shaping the ways in which we observe, interact with and plan our cities. In addressing challenges that urban areas are facing, numerous practices have emerged at the intersection of art, technology, and planning. The discipline and practice of planning is on the threshold of significant change as planners are now required to communicate and interact with a wide range of fields that often have conflicting insights and theories with planning.

By reflecting on the process and outcomes of the ongoing collaborations between Architecture, Planning and Landscape department and other creative research groups including Open Lab and Culture Lab at Newcastle University as well as city council and communities, this panel attempts to provide a more nuanced evaluation of such practices. By framing the communications between planning and HCI fields beyond mere juxtaposition or borrowing tools or concepts, the panel aims to sketch out the potential gains and losses associated with adopting such design-driven approaches in urban planning processes.

It will reflect on the challenges that planners are facing in positioning themselves in such hybrid collaborations, by highlighting the core differences between decision making approaches in traditional planning and novel design-driven processes and the implications these differences will have for participatory planning processes, day to day works of planners, and their collaborations with fields such as HCI.

Panel: Practices of Urban Commoning

  • Panel Chair: Dr Silvia Gullino, Birmingham City University; Dr Carolina Pacchi, Politecnico di Milano

In recent years, in the face of the retreat of local welfare systems in European cities, urban scholars have increasingly investigated local citizen mobilisations aiming at taking responsibility of local commons (seen as both physical and intangible assets) that improve the quality of urban life, and that work and thrive if shareable and shared.

Following the Bologna Regulation (2012), inquiries have covered multi-layered, complex relationships between, for example: between urban commons, citizens as key actors and the territorial dimension of the city; between citizens, city administration and politics; between participation, self-organised collective action and long term co-management of the commons, just to name a few (see for example, Borch and Kornberger, 2015; Chatterton, 2016; Iaione, 2015; Stavrides, 2010, 2012 and 2014).

Taking into consideration the wider and growing debate on urban commons and its relevance to several disciplines (planning, architecture, economics, geography and urban design), we argue the need for more research-based understanding of such complex relations as crucial for challenging existing models of urban development. This track wishes to promote further debate on their social/political/environmental/economic complexities, both in terms of creative practices and in terms of design agencies, by starting from a few key (but not exhaustive) questions:

  1. What opportunities, as well as challenges, do the rise of urban commons and urban commoning pose to both collaborative and democratic city making?
  2. What role do media technologies play at supporting such bottom up, citizen-led initiatives for socially resilient cities?
  3. How can collective experiences of urban commoning be scaled up?

Keywords: urban commons; urban commoning; co-creation; digital technologies; collective action organizations