Geographic perspectives on urban sustainability: past, current, and future research trajectories
The 21st century has been called the “century of the city” and compounded concerns that current development pathways were not sustainable. Calls for scholarship on urban sustainability among geographers cites strengths in the human-environment and urban subfields that positioned the discipline to make unique contributions to critical research needs. This special issue reflects on the contributions that geographers have made to urban sustainability scholarship. We observe that that integration across human-environment and urban subfields reflects broader bifurcations between social theory and spatial science traditions in geography. Piggy-backing on the rise of sustainability science, the emergence of urbanization science compels geographers to reflect upon the ways in which we are positioned to make unique contributions to those fields. We argue that those contributions should embrace systems thinking, empirically connect social constructs to biophysical patterns and processes, and use the city as a laboratory to generate new theories.
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