The Centre for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) engages in research focused on the complex political, economic, social, cultural and environmental processes and relations that are transforming cities and regions.

Centre for
URBAN AND REGIONAL STUDIES

Climate change and urban transitions

This research explores questions around the politics and everyday practices of urban renewal and regeneration in the context of climate change. It explores how urban renewal and its governance might be re-thought to include household practices of renovation and retrofitting, and investigates the capacities of various kinds of urban households to adapt to urban climate change.

Building a More Sustainable City:  Official and Everyday Practices of Urban Regeneration (ARCDP130100582)

Kristian Ruming (Macquarie), Kathy Mee, Pauline McGuirk (UON)

Effective responses to environmental change require more nuanced analyses of how cities are being remade by urban regeneration. Urban regeneration is conventionally understood as driven by formal programs of renewal, such as large scale redevelopment projects. Yet the city is equally regenerated by an assemblage of practices and actors, often operating at smaller scales and in everyday ways, that are overlooked by both scholarly and policy sectors

This research uncovers the diverse ways in which the Newcastle region is being regenerated through formal and informal practices of households, organisations, businesses and governments. It involves four case studies of formal and informal urban regeneration initiatives taking place in the Newcastle region: Newcastle; Charlestown; Huntlee; and everyday practices of home and garden maintenance.

The project sheds new light on how diverse processes of urban regeneration, both visible and invisible, are altering cities. It documents the key actors, networks and practices through which regeneration occurs and, in so doing, reveals new opportunities for sustainable urban management.

OUTCOMES

Publications

Ruming, K., Mee, K. and McGuirk, P. (forthcoming) Planned Derailment for New Urban Futures? An Actant Network Analysis of the "great [light] rail debate" in Newcastle, Australia, in Y. Rydin & L. Tate (eds) Materiality and Planning: exploring the influence of Actor-Network Theory, Taylor and Francis: London.

Presentations include:

Mee, K., McGuirk, P., Ruming, K. & Sweeney, J. (2015) "Breathing life back into the city": Assembling life, death, the future, "the people" and liveability in regenerating Newcastle, NSW. Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, Canberra, 1-3 July

Mee, K., McGuirk, P., Ruming, K. & Sweeney, J. (2015) "A city that's vibrant and lively": Assembling liveability in regenerating Newcastle, NSW. State of Australian Cities Conference, Gold Coast, 9-11 December (forthcoming)

Ruming, K., Mee, K. and McGuirk, P. (2014) Tracing assemblages of urban regeneration: the role of a rail corridor in the urban assemblage of Newcastle, Australia. Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers, Annual International Conference, London, 26-29 August

Reports

Ruming, K. Mee, K., McGuirk, P. and Sweeney, J. (2015) Building a More Sustainable City: Official and Everyday Practices of Urban Regeneration in Newcastle, NSW. Residents Report, Macquarie University and University of Newcastle

Ruming, K. Mee, K., McGuirk, P. and Sweeney, J. (2015) Building a More Sustainable City: Official and Everyday Practices of Urban Regeneration in Charlestown, NSW. Residents Report, Macquarie University and University of Newcastle

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Urban Carbon Governance (ARCDP110100081) 

Pauline McGuirk, Robyn Dowling (Macquarie University), Harriet Bulkeley (Durham University, UK)

Effective responses to climate change hinge on the capacity to govern carbon, especially in our growing cities. Australia's urban carbon governance framework has proved ineffective and, until now, we have had minimal systematic knowledge of it to inform improvement. This project documents urban carbon governance across the capital cities. It has produced foundational new knowledge of the 'who', 'how' and 'where' of urban carbon governance and of the innovations emanating from Australian cities. The project provides empirical and theoretical knowledge to advance the capacity to govern carbon, enhance Australia's environmental sustainability and, through international engagement, build Australian research capacity.

OUTCOMES

Publications

McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H., and Dowling, R. (forthcoming) Configuring carbon governance in the city: insights from Sydney, Australia. Annals of the Association of American Geographers (Accepted June 16, 2015)

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M. and Bulkeley, H. (in press) Demonstrating retrofitting: perspectives from Australian local government, in M. Hodson and S. Marvin (eds) Retrofitting Cities: Priorities, Governance and Experimentation, Taylor & Francis: London

McGuirk, P.M., Dowling, R., Brennan, C., Bulkeley, H.  (2015) Urban carbon governance experiments: the role of Australian local governments, Geographical Research, 53, 39-52

McGuirk, P.M., Dowling, R. and Bulkeley, H. (2014) Repositioning urban governments? Energy efficiency and Australia's changing climate and energy governance regimes, Urban Studies, 51, 2717-2734

McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H. and Dowling, R., (2014) Practices, programs and projects of urban carbon governance: perspectives from the Australian city, Geoforum, 52, 137–147

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M. and Bulkeley, H. (2014) Retrofitting cities: local governance in Sydney, Australia, Cities, 38, 18–24

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M. and Bulkeley, H. (2013) Governing carbon in the Australian city: local government responses, Proceedings of the State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney

Presentations include:

McGuirk, P.M., Dowling, R., Bulkeley, H.  (2015) Configuring urban carbon governance: insights from Sydney. Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, Canberra, July 1-3

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H. (2015) Configuring pathways to decarbonisation in Sydney, Australia. Association of American Geographers Conference, Chicago, April 6-10

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H., (2014) Low carbon businesses, low carbon workers? Practices of governing workplace subjectivities in urban Australia. Devices and Desire: The Cultural Politics of a Low Carbon Society Workshop, Sweden, 21-23 May (invited)

McGuirk, P.M. (2014) Urban low carbon transition pathways Sydney/Newcastle, Australia. International Network for Low Carbon Urban Transitions, Hong Kong, 26-29 March (invited)

Bulkeley, H., McGuirk, P.M., and Dowling, R., (2013) Governing carbon in Australia's cities: the politics and practice of transition? Urban Energy Governance: North and South, International Roundtable Seminar, Paris, 16-18 September (invited)

Dowling, R., McGuirk, P.M. and Bulkeley, H., (2013) Governing carbon in the Australian city: local government responses. State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney, 26-29 November

McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H. and Dowling, R., (2013) Governing carbon in the Australian city: ecologies of initiatives and modes of governance. Responding to climate change: and Urban Challenge Workshop, Sydney, 26 July

McGuirk, P.M., Bulkeley, H. and Dowling, R., (2013) Governing carbon in the Australian city: hegemonic projects in the making? Institute of Australian Geographers Conference, Perth, 1–4 July

McGuirk, P.M. (2013) What is the state of Australian cities: retrospect and prospect. Plenary panel of theState of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney, 26-29 Nov (invited)

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Urban housing, climate change and adaptive capacity (NCCARF-funded)

Lesley Instone, Kathy Mee

This research explores the adaptive capacity of tenants and housing managers/landlords in the rental sector. Research to date has largely neglected the 27% of households in rental accommodation and the housing managers and landlords who manage this housing stock. The project will collect stories of adaptation from renters and housing managers/landlords and bring these groups together to develop more effective ways of facilitating adaption to climate change in the rental sector.