How we work

Together towards Realising Just Cities

Rapid urbanisation, globalisation and the complexity of cities demand transformative solutions and new paths towards sustainability and more just cities.

Climate change and other challenges in urban areas such as poverty, social segregation, unsustainable lifestyles and urban sprawl are complex and at times even conflicting, engaging a variety of actors, decision-making levels, disciplines and sectors. Responses and solutions need to be found through cooperation and collaboration.

Co-production: Joining forces for change

Our approach is to bring different actors together, from research and practice, from society and citizens, who together co-create knowledge and understanding that promotes sustainable urban futures. We provide the arena for addressing questions and urban challenges no single actor can manage alone.

At Mistra Urban Futures many different competences and disciplines meet. People from a wide range of research fields and expertise work participate: from business, sociology, political science, architecture, biology, physical resource theory, law, human ecology, engineering sciences to design.

Co-production is a holistic approach, starting from the very conception of individual projects and continuing through to project design and research, to implementation of results, including communication and publications of findings. Co-production is about learning. It is not a single method, rather a methodological ethos that can be implemented in different ways. It is a means to an end – tackling complex challenges.

Mistra Urban Futures published a manual for co-production of knowledge some years ago: Joint Knowledge Production for Urban Change. Download for free. A second, updated and expanded, edition will be available in Spring 2019.

Recent publications

In addition to the more project-specific publications, some articles reflecting on the way the Centre works have been published. See suggestions below.

Tools for co-production of knowledge (Gothenburg-platform)
How can we support mutual learning, integrate researcher and practitioner perspectives and co-produce knowledge for sustainable and just urban development? 

Mistra Urban Futures bring researchers and practitioners together in research projects to collaboratively create new knowledge and understandings for sustainable urban change. This co-production takes a variety of forms, depending on the composition of the project and the reality-based problem at hand. The aim is to integrate different perspectives through a transdisciplinary process that ultimately lead to societally relevant and robust results. 

Tools for co-production of knowledge/Verktyg för gemensam kunskapsproduktion (published) January 2019. K. Hemström)The report is published in Swedish. K. Hemström.

Organising for Co-Production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability
This article suggests that local interaction platforms (LIPs) as developed within Mistra Urban Futures are innovative responses to the challenges of bridging between different types of knowledge and stakeholders.
Perry, B., Patel, Z., Bretzer, Y. N., & Polk, M. (2018). Organising for Co-Production: Local Interaction Platforms for Urban Sustainability. Politics and Governance, 6(1), 189. doi:10.17645/pag.v6i1.1228

Craft metrics: how to value co-production
Comment in Nature, co-authored by Mistra Urban Futures Platform Director in Sheffield/Manchester, Prof Beth Perry
Durose, C., Richardson, L., & Perry, B. (2018). Craft metrics to value co-production. Nature, 562(7725), 32–33.

The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research
The article surveys the lessons learnt and challenges faced by  Mistra Urban Futures and its research platforms in Sweden, the UK, South Africa and Kenya in developing and deploying different forms of transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge.
Simon, D., Palmer, H., Riise, J., Smit, W., & Valencia, S. (2018). The challenges of transdisciplinary knowledge production: from unilocal to comparative research. Environment and Urbanization, 095624781878717. doi:10.1177/0956247818787177

Polk, M. (ed) Co-producing Knowledge for Sustainble Cities: Joining Forces for Change. Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2015

Polk, M. 'Achieving the promise of transdisciplinarity: a critical exploration of the relationship between transdisciplinary research and societal problem solving'. Sustainability Science, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s11625-014-0247-7