Regenerative Sustainable Development of Universities and Cities
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Regenerative Sustainable Development of Universities and Cities

The Role of Living Laboratories

Edited by Ariane König

Now that the Earth has reached the limits of its biophysical carrying capacity, we have to change technologies, social practices and social norms relating to material production and consumption to ensure that we do not further jeopardize the functioning of our planet’s life support systems. Through research, education and civic engagement, universities have a pivotal role to play in this transition. This timely book explores how universities are establishing living laboratories for sustainable development, and examines the communication networks and knowledge infrastructures that underpin impact both on and beyond the campus.
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Chapter 9: Mistra Urban Futures: a living laboratory for urban transformations

Merritt Polk, Jaan-Henrik Kain and John Holmberg


Although the pace and scale of urbanization is overwhelming in itself, the inherent complexity of cities adds further intricacies. Urban systems are constantly regenerated through a multitude of social, economic, political, spatial and ecological processes that involve all inhabitants, in all sectors, at all levels, both formal and informal (de Roo and Silva, 2010; Hernández et al., 2010; Hodson and Marvin, 2010). Urban complexity is a prerequisite for rich and heterogeneous environments for innovation (Bettencourt et al., 2007). However, this complexity also makes the act of translating different types of knowledge into policy and practice extremely demanding. Processes of urban transformation are neither linear nor sector-based, but dynamic and intertwined. No single actor or actor group is capable of successfully managing urban change on their own. Most issues, problems and processes in urban development are nevertheless traditionally compartmentalized and addressed within separate sectors/disciplines/cultures of industry, politics, administration, service provision and science on different scales and levels. Such traditional disciplinary and sector boundaries and organizational structures rarely facilitate in-depth collaboration between practice and research.

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