The Role of Cities in Sustainability Transitions: New Perspectives for Science and Policy

  • Marc WolframEmail author
Part of the New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives book series (NFRSASIPER, volume 25)


Sustainable development at a global and local scale heavily depends upon the pathways taken by cities in the near future. Within scientific research, this frequently identified “urban challenge” has been recognized and addressed increasingly in urban studies, as well as in transformation studies. However, while both fields clearly overlap and effectively complement each other in this regard, the respective epistemic communities have largely remained separate so far. Therefore, this paper elaborates on the core concepts and approaches that dominate the emerging scientific debate on the role of cities in sustainability transitions. Based on a methodic literature review, it delineates the progressive convergence of the diverse disciplines involved over four major research perspectives. It equally derives key conclusions for future research and policy, highlighting the urgent need to connect the four fields identified, to link socio-technical and social-ecological system (SES) perspectives, to conceive of holistic innovations for developing new planning approaches, and to fully embrace transdisciplinarity by practicing science in society.


Urban studies Transformation studies Sustainability Epistemology Transdisciplinarity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urban Planning and EngineeringYonsei UniversitySeoulKorea

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