Research Topic

Urbanization and Affordances that Promote Well-Being for (Urban) People and for a Healthy Biosphere

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The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. It is estimated that in the near future urban landscapes for another ca. 2.7 billion people will be built on planet Earth, approximately converting land equivalent to the size of South Africa. Such land conversion, coupled with citizen densification, ...

The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. It is estimated that in the near future urban landscapes for another ca. 2.7 billion people will be built on planet Earth, approximately converting land equivalent to the size of South Africa. Such land conversion, coupled with citizen densification, increasing in-equalities, shifting diets, and emerging technologies, challenge human well-being and pose ever-increasing demand for resources generated by the Biosphere.

This Research Topic concentrates on the various ways urbanization can promote individual well-being (mental, physical, and social health) as well as ecological health (a healthy Biosphere). What kind of affordances for human health promotion can urbanization include? What kinds of affordances for a psychological connection with nature can urbanization include? What kinds of nudges for pro-environmental behavior and consumption (decreasing detrimental consumption behaviors) can be actively designed in urban settings?

The Research Topic at hand uses a transactional approach, where an affordance can be understood as a non-deterministic in-situ precondition for a human activity, enabled by relations between abilities of an individual with features of an environment. We encourage a broad definition of the concept of affordances, where ‘the environment’ must not be restricted to the material biophysical environment alone, but also could be combined with social immaterial features. We see that the transactional approach of this Research Topic posits that meaning arises in relations between humans and their environment, that it will be equally applicable to natural and designed environments, and that it doesn’t regard dichotomies like city-contra-nature or social-contra-ecological. Hence, this Research Topic is interested in if the transactional approach can be used as a conceptual tool, not only for promotion of mental, physical, and social health in cities, but simultaneously for unraveling relations at the micro scale in cities which can be used for solutions that also promote a healthy Biosphere. We hope for contributions that will uncover insights for a complex understanding of such relations that would have been overlooked using mono-directional approaches or frameworks traditional for strictly experimental approaches.


Keywords: urban design, connectedness with nature, sustainability transformation, environmental learning, affordances


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