World Social Science Fellows launch Trans-Urban Knowledge Network

A global network of urban researchers has launched an online platform to share visions and approaches to creating alternative urban futures that advance the sustainability and resilience of cities and urbanizing regions.

The Trans-Urban Knowledge Network (TUKN) is a global collaboration between researchers from across a wide range of fields, who share a commitment to conducting applied critical research that generates alternatives to business-as-usual approaches to urban development and governance. Its founding members include many of the ISSC’s World Social Science Fellows who participated in the series of Sustainable Urbanization seminars between March 2013 and September 2015.

“TUKN is a network of university-based scholars and reflective urban practitioners, drawn from the World Social Sciences Fellows programme, concerned with undertaking research and social learning experiments that illuminate the types of upgrades needed to make cities sustainable,” said Mark Swilling, Professor of Sustainable Development at Stellenbosch University, and one of the Facilitators of the TUKN.

Mathieu Denis, Executive Director of the International Social Science Council, said

“The TUKN is a truly exciting initiative within urban research. The network was established by a group of brilliant early-career researchers, and today 70% of its members are from the Global South. They bring research excellence, energy and creativity to the challenges of our urban future, to develop knowledge not just for society, but with society.”

The online platform, which is launched today, creates a space for urban researchers to generate and share knowledge that is valid for science and valuable to society. The platform will feature blogs, longer essays, journal articles, events, book reviews, and news on research and travel grants. The network also aims to organize ‘crossover workshops’, at which network researchers will engage with policy makers and other stakeholders, to collaborate on initiating experiments based on empirical research produced by the TUKN.

The network is coordinated by World Social Science Fellow Buyana Kareem, who said

“Our main interest at TUKN is to translate urbanists’ knowledge into action by stimulating thought and influencing choices amongst academics, policy-makers, industry and society.”

TUKN members come from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, land management, architecture, political science, gender studies, geography, anthropology, economics, engineering and environmental science, to name but a few, and from all over the world. This makes the TUKN a uniquely diverse research platform for creative, critical research on urbanization.

The TUKN was developed at the Sustainability institute of Stellenbosch University, South Africa, in collaboration with the International Social Science Council (ISSC), with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The network was formed under the guidance of the leading urbanization scholars who facilitated the ISSC’s World Social Science Fellows’ Sustainable Urbanization Seminars in Quito, Taipei and Durban.

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