Co-producing knowledge for sustainable cities: Joining forces for change

Polk, M. (ed). (2015). Co-producing knowledge for sustainable cities: Joining forces for change. Oxon and New York: Routledge.

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Merritt Polk
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At the current time, many issues and problems within sustainable urban development are managed within traditional disciplinary and organizational structures. However, problems such as climate change, resource constraints, poverty, and social tensions all exceed current compartmentalization of policy-making, administration, and knowledge production. This book provides a better understanding of how researchers and practitioners together can co-produce knowledge to better contribute to solving the complex challenges of reaching sustainable urban futures. It is written for academic and professional audiences working with urban planning and sustainable cities around the world.
Co-producing Knowledge for Sustainable Cities is presented, by way of introduction, as a non-linear, collaborative approach to knowledge production which combines interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and cross-sector approaches to societal problem solving. Examples are taken from five cities that are affiliated in different ways with Mistra Urban Futures, an international center for sustainable urban development. These cities
include: Cape Town, Gothenburg, Greater Manchester, Kisumu, and Melbourne. Each city chapter discusses the drivers behind knowledge co-production and gives examples of activities and approaches that have been used to promote sustainable urban futures.
Each chapter is written to promote mutual learning from the approaches that are already in use. Building upon these city cases, the conclusions outline topics for future research that can strengthen the promotion and implementation of the co-production of knowledge for urban sustainability across diverse urban contexts.
This book provides an overview of the diverse driving forces behind co-production, and their specific contexts and constraints in a variety of cosmopolitan cities. It outlines both the many added values of co-production, as well as the temporal, individual, and institutional problems within many co-production processes. The needs for normative reflection in processes that balance scientific excellence with the needs of societal change are exemplified through concrete examples. This book offers valuable lessons regarding the implications and potential impact that co-production processes can have for different user groups, such as planners, politicians, researchers, and NGOs in different urban development contexts.
Merritt Polk is an Associate Professor in Human Ecology, and current Head of Department at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg. Her main areas of research include differences in women’s and men’s travel patterns, gender mainstreaming in transport policy, the integration of sustainability in transport and urban planning, and transdisciplinary research methodology.

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