Ecosystems of learning for urban sustainability transformations (TRANS-LEARN)

In recent years, a large number of urban experiments and small-scale live innovation projects have been performed in cities around the globe. Their purpose has been to enhance our understanding of how a broad urban sustainability transformation might take shape.

Underpinning these attempts at achieving concrete alterations of urban structures and behaviors is the idea that they will function as opportunities for learning. That is: for generating practical knowledge about what works, and not, in the quest for more sustainable urban developments.

The task of generating and spreading knowledge generate in such exemplary projects today often rests upon learning intermediaries. These are organizations that work across administrative scales and borders to build networks of learning relations between different types of societal actors.

Even though the idea of learning is central to much work aiming to facilitate urban sustainability transformations, there is actually not very much research done on how such learning actually takes place, or how the learning intermediaries go about their concrete work. What we however do know about learning processes is that they are incredibly complex, and that it is therefore risky to simply assume that learning will take place automatically.

To really understand how learning takes place in these types of contexts and processes, it is therefore crucial to study the practices and ways of organizing that can generate preconditions for an efficient learning process. We simply need to understand how we can learn to learn better in the quest for more sustainable urban futures.

Consequently, the purpose of the TRANSLEARN project is to investigate how the ecosystems of learning in sustainable urban development – that is: the dynamic and interdependent learning processes and learning environments – can be enhanced. This will be an important contribution to boost the capacity for urban sustainability transformations.

Academic partners: KTH (Department of Urban Planning and Environment), Gothenburg University (School of Business, Economics and Law), LU (Department of Architecture and Built Environment)

Practice partners: National Board of Housing, Building and Planning, the Gothenburg Region, IQS, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Viable Cities, VINNOVA

Running time: 2021-09-01 – 2025-08-31

Project manager: Professor Jonathan Metzger