The Future of Urban Network Research

Dr Ben Derudder and Dr Zachary Neal

Funding period: 1 January 2016 – 31 December 2017
Type of funding: Seminar Series

Seminar Series organised by Dr Ben Derudder (Universiteit Gent) and Dr Zachary Neal (Michigan State University).

The seminars will be conducted during a three-day symposium at Ghent University, 18 September-20 December 2017.

Research on the topic of urban networks now extends across many social and natural science disciplines (e.g. geography, sociology, engineering, physics) and over many scales of analysis from the intensely local formation of social networks among neighbours to the regional formation of transportation networks to the global formation of transnational economic networks. This rapid growth in the size, scope, and scale of urban network research has left the area invigorated but, we argue, without a clear agenda for future work. Specifically, there are two major questions confronting urban network researchers. First, which theoretical and analytic approaches in the extant literature have been successful and warrant further development, and which should be abandoned or require revision? Second, what existing topics warrant continued investigation and what new issues and research questions could benefit from an urban network perspective?

Our proposed seminar series has three goals. First, the seminar will bring together established urban network researchers to critically evaluate the state of the area, and to articulate an agenda for the next wave of urban network research. Essential to this goal will be the seminar’s role in facilitating the formation of new collaborative research teams designed to jump-start this new research agenda. Second, in an area where methodological developments occur swiftly and high quality data is scarce, the seminar will offer an opportunity for experts in cutting-edge methods to train one another in these techniques and to facilitate sharing of urban network data. Finally, the seminar will serve as a venue to link senior researchers with early-career scholars, both as mentors and as collaborators in carrying forward a new research agenda on urban networks.

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