Call for Abstracts: “Towards co-producing knowledge and teaching methodologies in applied urban settings”

Call for Abstracts
The decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2004-2014) advocated for Higher Educational Institutions (HEI) to enforce a focus on skills, knowledge and competences needed for the grand societal transformation (UNESCO 2014).

As the world is increasingly becoming urban, disciplines educating the future generation shaping the urban have specifically been addressed to educate „change agents“ and to develop tools for sustainable solutions (e.g. UN HABITAT). The New Urban Agenda and the SDGs have reemphasized the urgency of change.

HEI across the world, however, have been reluctant to integrate aspects of sustainability into their urban curricula (Bina et al. 2016). Internationally there are a number of urban-focused master programs with a developmental focus. More recent programs follow the didactical aim to facilitate shared learning experiences and to co-produce knowledge in the urban realm in order to develop collaborative research methods for sustainable solutions. „Co-Design “and „Co-Production “in science are meant to bridge the gap between science and practice to solve social and environmental problems.

It is based on the perception, that feasible solutions for our complex urban reality can only be developed in partnership and requires knowledge that is co-produced by various actors (e.g. UN-Habitat & GLTN, 2010). Furthermore, as planning is a normative terrain co-production deals with the need to negotiate contested solutions as well as to ensure legitimacy of any research conducted (Polk, 2014).

Our session addresses co-production of knowledge that incorporates the ability to work in a multi-actor environment. This includes the integration of knowledge from different disciplines, but moreover the inclusion of values, knowledge and know-how from non-academic sources such as the private sector as well as civil society – individuals and associations (Klein et al. 2010, Polk 2014).

The session takes also a critical look and questions the reliability and applicability of the knowledge being co-produced, as scholars have criticized the researcher-driven project initiation and ownership, highlighted the problems of communication and the time and resource consuming process as well as the often raised expectations (Polk 2014, Winkler 2013, Bénit-Gbaffou 2011). For this session we are inviting papers that focus on modes of co-production of knowledge in research and teaching. We welcome both papers from practice, as well as theoretical contributions. We are especially looking for empirical examples of co-production of knowledge in the context of real-life settings.

Among other themes, papers could address the following topics:
– theoretical conception(s) of collaborative research and teaching, its normativity and its implication for urbanity
– research on actor constellations and power relations in and through collaborative research and teaching
– examples of conflictual or non-conflictual co-production of knowledge in different urban settings
– presentation of teaching methodologies and practices that promote collaborative research and co-production of knowledge in urban settings

Submission of Papers
All sessions have to comply with the conference organization rules (see below). If you want to present a paper, please submit your abstract via the official conference website until 31.05.2021:

You will be informed by 31.07.2021, if your proposed paper has been accepted for presentation at the conference. For further information, please see the conference website or contact the session organizers: Astrid Ley, Mohamed Salheen, Josefine Fokdal and Marwa Abdellatif (Germany and Egypt).

About the Conference
The “Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability” (GCSMUS) together with the Research Committee on “Logic and Methodology in Sociology” (RC33) of the “International Sociology Association” (ISA) and the Research Network “Quantitative Methods” (RN21) of the European Sociology Association” (ESA) will organize a “1st International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Spatial Methods” (“SMUS Conference”) which will at the same time be the “1st RC33 Regional Conference – Africa: Botswana” from Thursday 23.09 – Sunday 26.09.2021, hosted by the University of Botswana in Gaborone, Botswana. Given the current challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will convene entirely online. The conference aims at promoting a global dialogue on methods and should attract methodologists from all over the world and all social and spatial sciences (e.g. area studies, architecture, communication studies, educational sciences, geography, historical sciences, humanities, landscape planning, philosophy, psychology, sociology, urban design, urban planning, traffic planning and environmental planning). Thus, the conference will enable scholars to get in contact with methodologists from various disciplines all over the world and to deepen discussions with researchers from various methodological angles. Scholars of all social and spatial sciences and other scholars who are interested in methodological discussions are invited to submit a paper to any sessions of the conference. All papers have to address a methodological problem.

Please find more information on the above institutions on the following websites:
• “Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability” (GCSMUS): and
• ISA RC33:
• ESA RN21:
• University of Botswana in Gaborone:

Rules for Session Organization (According to GCSMUS Objectives and RC 33 Statutes)
1. There will be no conference fees.
2. The conference language is English. All papers therefore need to be presented in English.
3. All sessions have to be international: Each session should have speakers from at least two countries (exceptions will need good reasons).
4. Each paper must contain a methodological problem (any area, qualitative or quantitative).
5. There will be several calls for abstracts via the GCSMUS, RC33 and RN21 Newsletters. To begin with, session organizers can prepare a call for abstracts on their own initiative, then at a different time, there will be a common call for abstracts, and session organizers can ask anybody to submit a paper.
6. GCSMUS, RC33 and RN21 members may distribute these calls via other channels. GCSMUS members and session organizers are expected to actively advertise their session in their respective scientific communities.
7. Speakers can only have one talk per session. This also applies for joint papers. It will not be possible for A and B to present at the same time one paper as B and A during the same session. This would just extend the time allocated to these speakers.
8. Session organizers may present a paper in their own session.
9. Sessions will have a length of 90 minutes with a maximum of 4 papers or a length of 120 minutes with a maximum of 6 papers. Session organizers can invite as many speakers as they like. The number of sessions depends on the number of papers submitted to each session. E.g. if 12 good papers are submitted to a session, there will be two sessions with a length of 90 minutes each with 6 papers in each session.
10. Papers may only be rejected for the conference if they do not present a methodological problem (as stated above), are not in English or are somehow considered by session organizers as not being appropriate or relevant for the conference. Session organizers may ask authors to revise and resubmit their paper so that it fits these requirements. If session organizers do not wish to consider a paper submitted to their session, they should inform the author and forward the paper to the local organizing team who will find a session where the paper fits for presentation.
11. Papers directly addressed to the conference organising committee (and those forwarded from session organizers) will be offered to other session organizers (after proofing for quality). The session organizers will have to decide on whether or not the paper can be included in their session(s). If the session organizers think that the paper does not fit into their session(s), the papers should be sent back to the conference organizing committee as soon as possible so that the committee can offer the papers to another session organizer.