The United Nations 2030 Agenda has brought all nations together in the shared goal of achieving sustainable global development in order to end poverty and address the environmental emergencies facing us. These challenges, which already seemed ambitious at the time, have now been made all the more urgent by the pandemic and the growing impact of climate change. This is particularly affected by the unbalanced impact of the socio-environmental transformations carried out in different territories. As the European Union itself admitted in its Post-Pandemic Recovery Plan, we need a greener, more digital, and more resilient future. Furthermore, these challenges – exploring the socio-environmental and socio-economic outcomes of intertwined political-economic restructuring processes and the fast development of new technologies – lie right at the heart of TURBA.
These issues, particularly those still under 20th-century criteria, do not fall under separate disciplines. This is why we are now exploring these processes from an interdisciplinary point of view, starting at the urban scale. We observe them through their networked multi-scale geographies beyond the merely urban facet; applying a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to capture their various dimensions; and carrying out empirical research but making progress in theory, because socio-economic developments, socio-environmental actions and technological innovation in the field often move forwards at a much faster rate than theory. Therefore, we have built a critical interdisciplinary perspective using approaches from geography, urban studies, environmental sciences, anthropology, political science, education, arts and science, and science and technology studies. Specifically, we categorize our research together with four research areas to understand the geographies of digital capitalism and grassroots alternatives.
The political economy of urbanization
We look into possible new town planning models, particularly those linked to the digitalization of cities (such as smart cities, technological sovereignty and innovation districts) and their geographies, both inside cities and outside them, as the global circuits for the generation and transfer of these town planning models.
The political ecology behind the socio-environmental change
We study how socio-ecological governance is reshaped through technological, social and environmental change, with a particular focus on drivers, impacts and barriers and on the winners and losers of the socio-environmental transformation led by the government, the market and civil society. We also look closely at the changing political economy of urban water, and the role played by technology in this reshaping process.
Grassroots co-creation of sustainable solutions
We study the new collaborative processes for the creation of knowledge and the co-production of innovative practices in a variety of contexts aimed at the achievement of urban sustainability, climate resilience and social equity. Our research in this regard also includes looking at how innovative ways of involving citizens, such as arts-based solutions, can support inclusive and transformative learning in both formal and informal learning contexts and how such processes help transform our cities so we can face climate change and other environmental challenges in a sustainable manner.
Theory, Technology, Territory and Politics
We inquiry into how contemporary processes of change, such as those derived from technology, climate change and other global trends, affect our understanding of classical concepts of political theory such as ideology, democracy, freedom or equality; and we explore questions related to territorial organisation, identity, political processes and multi-escalar governance including state, regional and urban affairs combining theoretical questions with empirical analysis, in particular aiming to expand our inquiry towards the geographies of the European South and Eastern Europe.