Worldwide, cities and urban agglomerations have become the drivers of innovation and economic prosperity. Cities are now the nodes of local, regional and global networks in which people, resources and products circulate. The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities and how to ensure a healthy urban living. The well-being of people and hence the future success of cities needs our ongoing attention.

We observe an increase in social and economic inequality in and between cities as well as a growing pressure on the ecological system within cities. Examples of research topics within the “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities” research agenda are:

  • Growing urban agglomerations have implications of accessibility for (inequalities in) travel, health and well-being;
  • Absorbing migrants or losing citizens leads to destabilization in societies at both ends;
  • The success of innovative cities or urban agglomerations lead to the loss of businesses and jobs in others;
  • The economic success of those well connected to global networks leads to poverty and feelings of being unfairly treated for others.

These are complex, dynamic and interrelated issues. We aim to better understand these issues and how they interact with the urban system to contribute to the future success of cities and help make the transition towards a more sustainable and liveable urban future.

Research on the economic and social transitions takes place within four research themes.

  • Accessibility, Public Space and Health
  • Dynamics of spatial distribution of economic activities
  • Transnational Mobilities
  • Governance of Urban Transitions

Besides the Urban Futures Research program our research group Geography Education initiates research to continuously improve our teaching programme and teaching in primary and secondary education in The Netherlands.