Call for Abstracts – TRIALOG Conference 7th – 9th of November 2019

The Department of International Urbanism cordially invites you to participate in our call for abstracts for the TRIALOG conference 2019 “Whose knowledge counts? The meaning of co-productive processes for urban development and urban research” at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. 

Recent policy discourses about sustainability and grand transformation, which became manifest in the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda or the Paris Climate Agreement, center around the role of cities and urban development. However, aligned approaches can only be successful if they go beyond conventional forms of knowledge production and include the complex landscape of actors in urban development. This calls for knowledge production in urban development to be questioned and newly conceptualized. 

Current scientific discourses on co-production of knowledge in urban development are centred around three arenas: A) the sustainability discourse which promotes a transdisciplinary approach in urban research; B) development studies that review forms of co-production of services and knowledge for empowerment and C) discourses in planning theory which partly acknowledge and partly criticize participation in planning, however move towards discussing means of co-production. All three strands take the reflection on the city or urban development processes as their starting point and have developed their sets of methods. 

The conference seeks to interrogate these three strands and attempts to provoke a dialog between diverse cases. The contributions will be aligned in comparative approaches in the format of a panel discussion. Scholars from all disciplines are invited to submit abstracts in relation to the following themes. We particularly welcome submissions from practitioners and from transdisciplinary teams. 



A) Co-production of knowledge in transdisciplinary urban research 

Enhancing sustainable urban development requires innovative urban science and practice with a more integrative approach to knowledge generation in order to tackle the problems at stake. This calls for the integration of knowledge from various disciplines as well as civil society and other non-academic actors, into the realm of urban research in order to produce more suitable and applicable results for policy making and societal change (e.g. Polk 2014, 2015; Klein et al. 2001) – i.e. transdisciplinarity. Despite the promising potential, several challenges to transdisciplinarity have been identified – e.g. uneven balance of ownership of knowledge (Pohl et al. 2010), time consuming research processes, limited institutional capacities (Robinson 2008), insufficient legitimacy (Lang et al. 2012) and unclarified authorities (Polk 2015). This session will address challenges to co-production of knowledge in transdisciplinary urban research and ask what kind of methods can help facilitate the co-production of knowledge in order to overcome these challenges. 

B) Co-production of knowledge in urban development 

In the development discourse, two threads of co-production can be identified: the co-production of services and the co-production of knowledge. This session will focus on co-production in the learning process. In this context, communities gather knowledge themselves and this process is meant to empower them to address and overcome urban poverty (McFarlane 2006; 2009). Here, co-production of knowledge is understood as empowerment of local groups – local communities – which strengthens their negotiating power vis-à-vis the state (Mitlin 2015) and ensures transparency and trust while developing capacities among local communities (Boonyabancha & Kerr 2018). This session will address questions such as: How is co-production of knowledge being executed by local groups and which means of legitimacy are used to get their voice heard? 

C) Co-production or co-optation? 

Critics mainly argue that the fundamental cause of urban poverty and inequality is not tackled by participation mechanisms; that pragmatic forms of participation and co-production rather do not address but rather perpetuate urban poverty, inequality and exclusion from basic rights and services. Mosse (2001) particularly doubts that local knowledge production can transform the power relationship. Rather he warns that the state or other external stakeholders use the label of co-production of knowledge to determine the local agenda. Instead, other partnerships indicate the transformational power because of (rather than despite) their pragmatic approach. This session will address questions such as: who is in the driving seat of knowledge co-production? Whose agenda is being pursued through co-productive knowledge processes? What means strengthen a co-production of knowledge that is taking acount of power imbalances and structural injustices? 


Submission of abstracts 

Please send your abstract (max. 500 words in .rtf or .docx format) in English to no later than May 5th 2019, 1pm CET, indicating: a) theme, b) names of the authors, c) title of the paper and d) if you intend to develop the abstract into a full paper for academic publishing or a short paper to be developed into policy recommendations. 

Papers will be selected by an independent scientific committee composed of the Department of International Urbanism of University of Stuttgart, Germany and Trialog representatives through a blind refereeing process. After the conference a selection of the best full papers will be published. 



Abstract submission deadline: 5th of May 2019, 1pm CET 

Abstract review and selection for (full or short) paper by: 30th of May 2019 

Full paper/short paper submission: 1st of October 2019, 1pm CET 

Conference in Stuttgart, Germany: 7th-9th of November 2019 



No registration fee accompanies attendance of the conference. 



(Department of International Urbanism, University of Stuttgart) Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley, Dr. Josefine Fokdal and Dipl.-Arch. Msc. Yassine Moustanjidi


For more information please contact