Research Topic

Social-Ecological Urbanism: Developing Discourse, Institutions and Urban Form for the Design of Resilient Social-Ecological Systems in Cities

About this Research Topic

The concept Social-Ecological Urbanism was launched by the publication of the book Principles for Social-Ecological Urbanism in 2013. It points out how resilience in interlinked social and ecological urban systems can be addressed through informed design of institutions and urban form, both shaped by urban discourse. A key tenet is that a deeper understanding of how discourse, institutions and urban form connect to self-organising urban systems, can help create the conditions for social-ecological outcomes in accordance with political goals and aims on sustainability. And, moreover, also build resilience into these urban systems, like social networks, economic markets and urban ecosystems. This presents a broad inter- and transdisciplinary research program aimed for a comprehensive transformation that addresses the interconnection between, on the one hand social and ecological systems in cities, and on the other hand, between such social-ecological systems and means used in practice, such as discourse, institutions and urban form.

Social-Ecological Urbanism presents an alternative research program on sustainable urban development in which important developments currently are taking place. Importantly, it offers a far broader conception of urban sustainability than current discourses, by addressing cities on the relevant systems level, where, moreover, social, economic and ecological urban systems are combined. While broad in this sense, the program is also specific by addressing the advancement of the practices in urban development via connecting urban systems to typical means used in these practices, such as discourse, institutions and urban form. By discourse is here meant the reigning political discourses and world views of society that shape institutions (i.e. formal and informal rules and norms in society) and urban form (i.e. the physical characteristics that make up built-up areas).

The goal is to present this program in a selected set of articles that both present the principles of the field, but also highlight some of its more recent advances. Central new developments concern how both discourse and institutions are vital in building and sustaining resilience in urban ecosystems through urban planning, and how urban form can be integrated with landscape ecology to inform urban designers in forming social-ecological landscapes. Further, cities need to be conceived as continuous landscapes, where discourse, institutions and urban form structure and shape social-ecological systems into specific and varied patterns that cannot be captured in isolated terms, such as density, or in individual technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, which dominate current practice.

The aim of the current Research Topic is to showcase Social-Ecological Urbanism and to cover promising, recent, and novel research in this new field. Areas to be covered may include, but are not limited to:

· Theoretical contributions on cities as resilient social-ecological system, and/or how such cities are created and sustained by discourse, institutions and urban form, presenting new concepts and models;
· Methodological advancements needed to describe and analyse the urban environment in order to investigate social-ecological resilience and/or such advancements when it comes to creating and sustaining such resilience.
· Empirical studies that provide evidence on how discourse, institutions and urban form are connected to resilient social-ecological urban systems and/or how they can structure and shape such systems.


Keywords: Resilient Cities, Social-Ecological Urbanism, Urban Systems, Sustainable Urban Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The concept Social-Ecological Urbanism was launched by the publication of the book Principles for Social-Ecological Urbanism in 2013. It points out how resilience in interlinked social and ecological urban systems can be addressed through informed design of institutions and urban form, both shaped by urban discourse. A key tenet is that a deeper understanding of how discourse, institutions and urban form connect to self-organising urban systems, can help create the conditions for social-ecological outcomes in accordance with political goals and aims on sustainability. And, moreover, also build resilience into these urban systems, like social networks, economic markets and urban ecosystems. This presents a broad inter- and transdisciplinary research program aimed for a comprehensive transformation that addresses the interconnection between, on the one hand social and ecological systems in cities, and on the other hand, between such social-ecological systems and means used in practice, such as discourse, institutions and urban form.

Social-Ecological Urbanism presents an alternative research program on sustainable urban development in which important developments currently are taking place. Importantly, it offers a far broader conception of urban sustainability than current discourses, by addressing cities on the relevant systems level, where, moreover, social, economic and ecological urban systems are combined. While broad in this sense, the program is also specific by addressing the advancement of the practices in urban development via connecting urban systems to typical means used in these practices, such as discourse, institutions and urban form. By discourse is here meant the reigning political discourses and world views of society that shape institutions (i.e. formal and informal rules and norms in society) and urban form (i.e. the physical characteristics that make up built-up areas).

The goal is to present this program in a selected set of articles that both present the principles of the field, but also highlight some of its more recent advances. Central new developments concern how both discourse and institutions are vital in building and sustaining resilience in urban ecosystems through urban planning, and how urban form can be integrated with landscape ecology to inform urban designers in forming social-ecological landscapes. Further, cities need to be conceived as continuous landscapes, where discourse, institutions and urban form structure and shape social-ecological systems into specific and varied patterns that cannot be captured in isolated terms, such as density, or in individual technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, which dominate current practice.

The aim of the current Research Topic is to showcase Social-Ecological Urbanism and to cover promising, recent, and novel research in this new field. Areas to be covered may include, but are not limited to:

· Theoretical contributions on cities as resilient social-ecological system, and/or how such cities are created and sustained by discourse, institutions and urban form, presenting new concepts and models;
· Methodological advancements needed to describe and analyse the urban environment in order to investigate social-ecological resilience and/or such advancements when it comes to creating and sustaining such resilience.
· Empirical studies that provide evidence on how discourse, institutions and urban form are connected to resilient social-ecological urban systems and/or how they can structure and shape such systems.


Keywords: Resilient Cities, Social-Ecological Urbanism, Urban Systems, Sustainable Urban Development


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

14 December 2020 Abstract
13 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

14 December 2020 Abstract
13 April 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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