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Towards a (Socio-ecological) Science of Settlement: Relational Dynamics as a Basis for Place

  • Perin RuttonshaEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS, volume 8)

Abstract

Cities are increasingly garnering attention on the global political stage, in light of the challenges and opportunities urbanization engenders for transition along sustainability and resilience pathways. Recently adopted as a target for change within sustainable development agendas, and recognized as central socioeconomic vehicles by which to mobilize related initiatives, the significance of urban systems to transition becomes most evident if we conceptualize them as being integrated within broader systems of settlements. Settlements are complex adaptive socio-ecological systems, which together as globalized networks embody the complete range of human-environment interactions and the complexity that has emerged along with these, over time. This framing is inspired by science of cities research and the dwelling perspective, both of which have elaborated on cities/settlements’ (1) coupled social-ecological-technological phenomena, (2) fundamental nature and function, (3) embodiment of scale-/network-based processes, and (4) emergent, multi-scale patterns of organization and impact. Ultimately, this could inform a relational approach to both sustainability and settlement planning, guided by analyses of these factors. It could also complement the burgeoning inclination in science and design disciplines to deconstruct the reflexive interactions that can occur between processes and forms, meaning and matter, people and places, the ephemeral and the concrete, the normative and the positive. By this means, we begin to invert our systemic design problem space, turning attention away from our constructed worlds, instead contemplating the ways of life they enable, in an integration between research and practice, observation and intervention, analyses and innovation, scholarship and poetics.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author is grateful for the support of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI), to attend the 2016 Global Sustainability Summer School (GSSS) in Urban Sustainability at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). She would also like to acknowledge the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), in Toronto, wherein much of this thinking originated.

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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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