Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Themes for future issues

Environment and Urbanization does not take unsolicited proposals for special issues.


April 2021: Education and learning for inclusive development

Deadline for submissions: passed.

Education is fundamental to the achievement of equitable and transformative urban development,  a means of both fostering the urban advantage and deriving optimal benefit from everything this advantage implies.  It is also, of course, the avenue to personal development, contributing as it does to the potential to exercise agency in the world and to what Appadurai termed “the capacity to aspire”.  And yet too often problems with both access and quality make education, or its absence, yet another dimension of the disadvantage of poor urban citizens, denying them opportunity and reinforcing exclusion.  Migrants and refugees may find it especially difficult to gain access to schooling.  In some cities, children are actually less likely to attend school than is the case for their rural counterparts.   The COVID pandemic has now cast a light on existing inequities as well as heightening the challenges.

This issue of the journal will focus on a wide range of related topics as they pertain to education in urban areas. We welcome both broad policy discussions and detailed case studies of innovative practice, analyses of the barriers to education as well as papers on interesting models and solutions.  We encourage submissions on both formal school systems and informal alternatives,  on Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and its implications for families,  on adult literacy and training for livelihoods, on health education and on the self-education of organized groups, working to advance their options and to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.  Papers that are able to draw attention to impact of the pandemic will be especially welcome.

Please write to Sheridan Bartlett (sheridan.bartlett@gmail.com) to discuss possible submissions.


October 2021: Citizen participation in planning: from the neighbourhood to the city

Deadline for submissions: 15 February 2021. (Early submission is encouraged.)

The need for citizen participation in local planning processes has long been recognized. Such involvement is essential both for equitable democratic citizenship and for effective interventions that recognize and respond to everyday lived realities. This is true of very localized efforts to replan and redevelop neighbourhoods, as well as larger-scale efforts such as in Epworth, Zimbabwe (Chitekwe-Biti et al., 2012). While there have been multiple efforts across towns and cities of the global North and global South, there have been too few initiatives that have expanded or grown upwards and outwards to address the scale and depth of need of those at the city scale, be it through citizen-generated engagements (Boonyabancha et al., 2012) or participatory budgeting (Cabannes, 2014).

Participatory planning and development for informal settlements is particularly important. The significance of informal settlements as a home for many of the lowest-income and most disadvantaged urban citizens is already substantive and is expected to increase. The construction, upgrading and transformation of dwelling and infrastructural solutions in deprived and marginalized settlements is a critical challenge for government agencies.

Faced with considerable state neglect, neighbourhood organizations, social movements and NGOs are consolidating alliances and federations to reclaim the capacity to modify their living environments as a collective right.

The organization of these collectives has led – in at least some contexts – to the reconsideration of the ways in which both the state and residents engage in the production, arrangement and distribution of infrastructural networks and service provision (Watson, 2014). Beyond expansive forms of participation and decentralization strategies, emerging practices have captured the emergence of “deeper forms of democracy” (Appadurai, 2001), where urban alliances and federations mobilize their collective power to co-produce or co-construct infrastructural and dwelling solutions with greater degrees of autonomy (Mitlin, 2008). Through the dissemination of different technologies for self-enumeration and collective mappings, many organizations are democratizing access to technical knowledge and consolidating their bargaining position, while questioning the monopoly held by state agencies and private developers over the use of planning and regulatory frameworks (Patel, 2013). At the same time, the “bottom-up” co-production of informal settlement upgrading is problematizing the role of design and planning professionals (Frediani and Boano, 2012). New professional roles and practices have emerged through their active engagement – as equals – with organized communities, although this requires that new challenges are recognized (Mitlin et al., 2019).

However, considerable challenges remain. What do recent experiences add to our understanding about how and in what form participation can be scaling upwards and outwards? Specifically, what are the bottom-up processes that can be catalysed at the community level and grow in scale? What is the relationship of participation to democracy and political inclusion? What are the key challenges that remain in terms of participatory practices? How can both academics and professionals address past deficiencies and secure more accountable processes and knowledge democracy? What are the lessons from the experiences of the slum/shack dweller federations in widening the space for their participation? (An example is the importance of resident organizations, and of making local governments see them as valuable partners and of showing the viability of alternative approaches to bulldozing.)

This issue of Environment and Urbanizationis looking for papers that address these and other relevant issues. For example, can we explore, through practical examinations, the relation between popular participation and the process of scaling? A second example is how we can understand the construction, provision and administration of infrastructures for informal settlements as a critical political terrain and a domain from where to explore new forms of popular participation.


April 2022: Ecosystem services

Deadline for submissions: 15 August 2021. (Details are forthcoming.)


October 2022: Urban inequalities

Deadline for submissions: 15 February 2022. (Early submissions are encouraged.)

The challenges of urban inequality have long been recognized. Growing concern about national and global inequalities has been accompanied by an acknowledgement of the multidimensional aspects of inequality that are particularly severe in urban areas. Spatial, political, economic and social disadvantage combines to deny individuals their right to safe and meaningful life. The Sustainable Development Goals and UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda recognize that addressing growing inequality has to be a priority for local and national governments, and these global agendas are working alongside local efforts to support urban transformation.

This issue will include papers that advance our understanding of inequality and how it can be addressed. We will draw on the research programme “Knowledge in Action for Urban Inequality” (KNOW), funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).