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Cities & Health: Special Issue

Call for Contributions

Transforming city and health futures: the use of science and imagination

Sponsor: UN Habitat logo
Sponsor: UN Global Compact Cities Programme

“Decisions – made or neglected today – will have impacts over time on human life and ecology, cities and health.”


Guest Editors
Professor Colin Fudge: colin.fudge@rmit.edu.au
Dr Sally Fawkes: s.fawkes@latrobe.edu.au

Editor-in-Chief Cities & Health
Marcus Grant, marcusxgrant@citieshealth.world

Submission instructions

The deadline for submission to this special issue is 30 June 2019. Full instructions on preparing and submitting your article, including details of each type of contribution, can be found on the journal website. The Guest Editors of the special issue welcome expressions of interest from authors in advance of the submission deadline. Early submissions are also welcome.
Find out more

Urbanism will be a dominant concern of policy-makers, planners, investors, researchers, businesses, governments and communities across the globe in coming decades. It has been projected that by 2050, up to 70% of the global population will live in urban areas. Cities and urban governance are being pushed to the forefront of concerns for both human and planetary health. Whether health and equity will be prioritised as a basis for decision-making is an open debate. Decisions – made or neglected today – will have impacts over time on human life and ecology, cities and health. Yet the processes of setting directions and making decisions are fraught. Life in urban contexts is complex and replete with uncertainties; the pace of change is rapid; values and long-range goals are contested; and information is incomplete and embodies various forms of bias. A new form of literacy is needed that can help us prepare for and make decisions, and act in the interests of urban health.

It appears that approaches to futures thinking are increasingly being used at all levels and in diverse sectors to support decision-making, especially when conditions are characterised by complexity. Methods are qualitative, quantitative or hybrid. They include visioning, Delphi studies, horizon scanning, scenarios, trend projection, modelling and backcasting. In combination, they can contribute to a systematic examination of alternative futures.

The Special Issue explores the field and techniques of futures thinking in relation to cities and health. At this early stage we see the Special Issue as having three main sections:

  • For the first section articles, we invite the submission of think pieces on long-termism and futures thinking in different fields but always with a focus on cities and health.

These articles might explore the art and science of futures studies and foresight, the nature and meaning of planning and design in contemporary political and social settings and contexts, the role of imagination in urban innovation to improve health and equity, and the interrelationship between futures literacy, practice, policy and governance.

  • For the second section, we invite contributions about practices that create new forms of knowledge, build futures literacy, and activate knowledge exchange.

These articles would provide an understanding of how techniques have been used and how subsequent policies, innovations or actions relate to them. That is, they would focus on the use and translation of foresight activity - how it has informed new or changed policy, enabled policy adaptation, stimulated the re-prioritisation of issues or helped create innovative ideas and actions. An example might be the strategic work being committed to by mayors and city leaders across the globe focussing on long-term scenarios and innovation for healthier lives for all. Another example might focus on foresight inputs to: policy formulation processes, design practices for new cities with adaptable spaces, and re-design strategies for parts of cities, whole cities and extensions to cities to create conditions for positive health outcomes and health equity.

We are also interested in articles that track how futures thinking and foresight have been applied to inspire local innovations. We want to hear how - through evaluation, dissemination, learning, and scaling up and mainstreaming - these local practice innovations influence different levels of place. For example, neighbourhood, suburb or district, city, sub-national and national. Finally, we are very interested in articles that explore how the themes of cities, health and climate change mitigation and adaptation are integrated in foresight work and in actual practice.

  • The third section will contain articles from a mini colloquium on the prevailing political, economic and social climate and the tensions between: long-range planning and short-term ‘muddling through’, experts and non-experts, prediction and anticipation, complexity and simplicity, failure/learning/success, integrative and silo thinking, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary, competing ideologies in theory and practice, global and local.

As Editors we will be contributing introductory and concluding articles.

The Special Issue may contain 5-10 articles but this is not fixed at this stage. Articles may be of different size and purpose, and we are open to suggestions.

We look forward to discussing your ideas for the Special Issue.

Call for papers opens 31 October 2018
Call for papers closes 30 June 2019

We invite a range of contributions, including:

  • Original scholarship: Empirical, methodological, conceptual papers and evidence reviews.
  • Reflections from research, practice and design: Major articles and think-pieces
  • Descriptive case studies, ‘City shorts’, Commentary and debate and Reviews.