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CFP Smart City-Regional Governance for Sustainability - Spatial Smartness

11 June 2017 , Abstract submission deadline. Conference date: 21-22 Sep. 2017. Location: University of Gdańsk, Poland

This call invites papers for the third conference of the Regional Studies Association (RSA) Research Network on 'Smart City-Regional Governance for Sustainability'. The conference focuses in particular on 'spatial smartness' with the aim of exploring practical examples of how 'smartness' is approached by both policy makers and academia. This choice of focus addresses one of the primary aims of the RSA Network – to investigate meaning and practice of 'smartness' in city-regional governance. For this purpose, the notion of 'smartness' is understood here as revolving around finding a preferred balance between the competing quests for urban international competitiveness, national economic development, societal and territorial cohesion as well as environmental protection and addressing climate change.

The observed contest between often seemingly conflicting goals in governance arrangements become particularly evident when it comes to questions of 'sustainability' as the overarching political and policy-defining agenda. This contest is not made easier by the complexity of diverse emphases subsumed under the term 'sustainability': political-economic, societal or environmental concerns, with associated claims for economic growth, social equality, and ecological considerations. In city-regions, these contestations and thus necessities for reconciling policy goals are particularly complex – and, with their dense and intense interdependencies, pose formidable political and practical challenges. Yet, at the same time, this makes city-regions and their governance a fascinating and rewarding arena for investigating the many meanings of 'smartness' – and, indeed, sustainability.

The Gdańsk conference sets out to explore 'spatial smartness' as the central topic. ‘Spatial smartness’ refers to the innovative use of, or engagement with, territory in city-regional governance. This includes the projection of 'soft' or 'virtual' spaces as part of collaborative forms of governance, as in 'new regionalism', for instance. Such may be achieved through city networks based on personality or institution-based connections, trans-border engagement or international representation and lobbying. In such instances, functional and strategic (agenda) relationships and networks generate a projected spatial backcloth of a 'region'. The (conventional) alternative, of course, is redrawing administrative boundaries around areas of political-governmental control, with all the political and administrative upheaval and resistance that may entail. 'Smartness' may rest in the justification of such constructions, their operationalisation, and their strategic conceptualisation, seeking to reconcile multiple interests such as to minimize conflict and thus ineffective governance.

For further information on the RSA Network, the network events and the RSA go to the Network’s webpage on the RSA website: For further information on the hosting institute see:

Call for papers / abstract submission

Academics and practitioners are invited to submit conceptual and empirical papers that address smartness in city-regional governance in its spatial implications. How important are administrative conventions, spaces of democratic legitimacy and identity, territory-based powers and responsibilities, etc.? Topics may include the spatial manifestation and implications of:

Digital/informational smartness: the use of  information and communication technologies to e.g. mobilise or involve local civil society, or even adopt and implement 'new' mechanisms of governance;

Institutional smartness: the role of institutions in framing, facilitating and/or implementing 'smartness', such as through new ways of formulating policies, and responding to public political discourses, addressing conflicting policy agendas;

Experimental smartness: collecting examples of cutting-edge practices to serve as an empirical basis for conceptual discussions about achieving multiple goals, changing established ways of doing things, reaching out to new actors and voices, etc. Specific, individual examples of experimental rationalising and policy-making in smart city-regional governance are of interest.

Abstracts should be around 300 words long and submitted by the deadline of 11 June 2017 via the conference website. The full CFP (PDF) can be found below.

Travel and Accommodation Bursaries

Thanks to the support of the Regional Studies Association, we are able to offer two travel bursaries of up to €300 each to contribute towards travel and accommodation costs. Eligible to apply are: any student, early career or associate (retired) member of the RSA, as well as members working in a Band B, C or D country. If you are eligible and wish to apply, please add a paragraph to your abstract submission, in which you state your intent to apply, introduce yourself and briefly explain why you are eligible for such a bursary.  Please note: The closing date for bursary applications is also 11 June 2017.