Call for papers, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 28-30 August 2019, London


Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures


It is increasingly recognised that addressing complex sustainability challenges requires collaboration with a diverse range of social actors. In the context ofgrowing emphasis on research impact and social engagement (Morris et al., 2017), social sciences and the humanities are paying increasing attention to community-based research and practical applications thereof. Simultaneously, academics are facing mounting pressures associated with neoliberalisation ofeducation and research institutions.


Geographers, other social scientists and humanities based researchers are therefore increasingly concerned with activist and engaged scholarship (Torres, 2018; Thorpe, 2012; Manzini, 2015). Subsequently, they provide a geography of hope that has the potential to bring about positive change through citizen engagement and in response to continually dominant neoliberal economic and political paradigms.


Innovative methods and approaches to engage citizens on themes ofsustainability transitions have proliferated in recent years. Examples include speculative design (Hunt, 2011; Broms, Wangel and Andersson, 2017), living labs (Jaskiewicz, Keyson and Doolaard, 2016) and envisioning futures (Davies, Doyle and Pape, 2012). These are contributing to cross-cutting, human-geographical debates regarding civic engagement and critical consideration of practice in relation to  ethics, politics and knowledge production (Jazeel and Farlane, 2010, Askins, 2018). Here, efforts to move beyond traditional extractive modes of knowledge production are drivingmethods that enable research for as well as with and by citizens andcommunities (Smith, 2011; 2016).


The session seeks to explore experiences and methods of community engagement in research addressing complex sustainability challenges. It is open to submissions from a wide variety of thematic and geographic contexts as well as disciplinary backgrounds. We invite practitioners, researchers and activists to share experiences and critical perspectives on working with citizens and communities on sustainability challenges.


Submissions may explore but are not limited to the following themes:

●           Participatory and co-design methods

●           Methods for envisioning futures

●           Storytelling

●           Living labs

●           Design activism

●           Artivism

●           Participatory action

●           Transition towns

●           Asset based approaches

●           Interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral work

●           Issues of power and positionality

●           Social innovation methods

●           Design anthropology



Instructions for Authors:

Abstracts of up to 250 words should be sent by email to the session convenors Dr Anne Schiffer ( and Dr Mary Greene ( by Tuesday 12 February 2019.