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Ambio

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 529–538 | Cite as

Building actor-centric transformative capacity through city-university partnerships

  • Lauren Withycombe Keeler
  • Fletcher Beaudoin
  • Arnim WiekEmail author
  • Beatrice John
  • Amy M. Lerner
  • Richard Beecroft
  • Kaidi Tamm
  • Andreas Seebacher
  • Daniel J. Lang
  • Braden Kay
  • Nigel Forrest
Urban Transformative Capacity

Abstract

Cities worldwide are rising to the challenge of sustainable development, calling for large-scale and fast-paced transformations towards sustainability. Urban sustainability challenges are now being reframed as a lack of capacity of individuals and organizations to carry out such socio-technical transformations. This article expands on transformative capacity literature by elucidating the concept of actor-centric transformative capacity. It focuses on the unique role city-university partnerships (CUPs) can play in catalyzing and supporting effective urban sustainability transformations. Two case studies on CUPs in Portland, Oregon and Tempe, Arizona are used to identify determinants of actor-centric transformative capacity, their role in the transformative capacity of urban systems, and how they are built through CUPs. The article concludes with strategies for building effective CUPs capable of building actor-centric transformative capacity among university actors and city administrators.

Keywords

Capacity Partnerships Transformation Urban sustainability 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the guest editors Marc Wolfram, Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea, Megan Farrelly, Monash University, Australia, and Sara Borgström, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, for the invitation and encouragement to pursue this manuscript. The authors acknowledge funding from the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO) during the grant period February 2017–January 2018. We would also like to thank our city collaborators in Portland, Karlsruhe, Tempe, and Mexico City for the productive collaborations through this project.

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren Withycombe Keeler
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Fletcher Beaudoin
    • 3
  • Arnim Wiek
    • 2
    • 4
    • 9
    Email author
  • Beatrice John
    • 5
  • Amy M. Lerner
    • 6
  • Richard Beecroft
    • 7
  • Kaidi Tamm
    • 7
  • Andreas Seebacher
    • 7
  • Daniel J. Lang
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • Braden Kay
    • 8
  • Nigel Forrest
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
    • 9
  1. 1.School for the Future of Innovation in SocietyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Center for Global Sustainability and Cultural TransformationLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Sustainable SolutionsPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  4. 4.Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability ResearchLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  6. 6.Laboratoria Nacional de Ciencias de la Sostenibilidad, Instituto de EcologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéxico CityMexico
  7. 7.Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems AnalysisKarlsruhe Institute of TechnologyKarlsruheGermany
  8. 8.Office of SustainabilityCity of TempeTempeUSA
  9. 9.School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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