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Engaging action research with urban planning practice in identifying new courses of action for sustainable urban development

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2015
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AESOP
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New workable approaches to urban sustainability are often explored within temporary and interdisciplinary project structures located outside direct formal jurisdictional authorithy and every day planning practice. In this context multiple examples of cross-border collaboration can be identified where researchers engage with urban practitioners in knowledge production processes also popularly coined as modus 2 or action research. There is a great need for critical reflection on the methodologies applied in specific contexts of collaborative knowledge production in order to get a better understanding on how to arrive at actionable conceptions of urban sustainability. I take my point of departure in the Interreg project Urban Transition Øresund (2011-2014) involving urban planners from five municipalities and an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five research institutions all located in the Oresund region. The project has been set up with the ambition to develop models for collaboration and approaches to work more thoroughly with sustainability in urban planning processes. Based on my findings from being a research participant in the project I claim that action research can support the creation of inter-collegial spaces of social learning to discuss professional values, norms and challenges around sustainability. But what also has become apparent during the project is how the normative drive for enhancing democracy through collaborative knowledge production may be obscured by competing conceptions of participation based on the logics of the knowledge economy as well as they may be pervaded by internal conflicts of different knowledge interests among researchers and their partners
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Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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