JUSTRA Cities - research

Networking for Just Sustainability Transitions

JUSTRA Cities aims to deepen, translate and connect knowledge and practice on just sustainability transitions in and for cities. Concretely, we are researching how just sustainability transitions manifest in cities and how people engage with them.   

Our research 

Just sustainability transitions are systemic, societal processes that are not confined to any single city or any specific domain. Therefore, we focus on understanding translocal network connections across and between cities, urban and rural places, and different levels of governance and action. Since problems and challenges related to injustices and unsustainabilities cannot be understood nor meaningfully addressed from within one discipline or from one perspective only, we are interested in exploring different forms of collaborations for knowledge co-production contributing to just sustainability transitions in the making.  

Understanding translocal networks 

Translocal initiatives can take different forms – community organisations, citizen groups, social enterprises or public-community partnerships. They often focus on specific themes or topics, such as food, energy, or housing, but also participatory governance, alternative economic trends or specific social groups. It is along those topics, that regional, national, or global, initiatives have learned to tap into the overarching zeitgeist and to connect with like-minded people and organizations across localities. This allows them to easily learn from one another’s experiences and connects them to the supra-local contexts they are embedded in. Over time, these collaborations have grown and formalized into what one may call ‘translocal networks’.  

Research activities  

Through our research activities, we work on expanding the knowledge on the role of translocal networking and collaboration with a focus on the central role that networks play in creating and sharing knowledge among actors. We are interested in understanding the different forms of collaborations they enter into, and the methods and approaches used for such knowledge co-production and sharing.

To this end, we engage in a number of activities:

  1. In Autumn 2022, we are kick-starting a wiki database of translocal networks working on just sustainability transitions. Over the course of the coming years, the intent is to co-create a knowledge hub on such translocal networks together with interested parties. This database serves different purposes:  
    • sharing information about translocal networks as a basis for collaboration and as a source of inspiration, 
    • being a resource for research and knowledge on the role of translocal networks in and for just sustainability transitions  
    • understanding the various ways in which such networks operate, to enact change, their differing forms of knowledge governance, or their differing levels of intent in contributing to (just sustainability) transitions. 

The usefulness of this database increases to the extent that it features a broad range of networks with a necessary depth of information. Therefore, we invite you to engage in co-producing and member-checking knowledge about a diversity of translocal networks. Want to know how? Please follow this link

Alongside the creation of the database, we strive to co-produce a research agenda on the topic of ‘networking for just sustainability transitions’. To this end, we engage with various networks via social media as well as online and offline conversations to understand what their needs in terms of research are.  If you are a network and would like to get in touch, you can either share your questions via social media, by filling out this form or by dropping us a mail.

Based on the research agenda, and over the course of the year 2023, we aim to enter research collaborations with a number of networks to work together on co-producing knowledge and action to further just sustainability transitions.

Besides researching networks, we have been building ourselves up as a network since 2021. Creating a translocal and transdisciplinary network around just sustainability transitions in cities is a method for developing actionable knowledge that bridges across the fields of sustainability transitions, environmental justice and urban planning. This includes experimenting with several methods to co-produce, deepen, translate and share actionable knowledge by: a) developing and coordinating an open-source Wiki database on sustainable just cities; b) curating an event series and a publication series on just sustainability transitions, c) coordinating a Study Group with researchers, interns, and students; d) being interactive social media and through our mailing list on just sustainability transitions. 

If you are interested to get in touch, please write us a mail at justrateam@essb.eur.nl  

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