Call for papers - 2023 ESG Radboud Conference panel

UI Senior Research Fellow Dr Linda Westman and her colleagues Marielle Papin and Rachel Macrorie are organising a panel session on "Governing urban transformation: Experimentation and scaling". The deadline for papers is 12 February 2023.

GettyImages-918027768_Sean Gladwell

The ESG Urban Working group, Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (Dresden) and Humboldt University (Berlin) are proposing a double conference panel for the ESG 2023 Radboud Conference (Nijmegen, The Netherlands, October 24-26) on Governing urban transformation, with a focus on experimentation and scaling. The first panel relates to ‘Critical perspectives on experimentation and scaling’. 

The last ten years have seen an outburst of research on experimentation in urban environmental governance. From the microlocal to the global level, researchers have investigated how experimentation in cities emerges and is maintained, challenges the political status quo, or deepens social inequalities. Simultaneously, the multiplication of environmental crises worldwide has highlighted the need to rapidly scale up urban experiments and allow transformative change. This has led many scholars to focus on ways to take successful urban experiments from a smaller to a larger scale. These intents generally follow a bottom-up and instrumental approach to scaling. For instance, concepts such as vertical, horizontal, or hierarchical upscaling have helped understand ways in which local experiments may gain significance. Yet, we still do not know what the most relevant approach is to generate catalytic change. Linear thinking tends to overlook the complexity of climate governance. This line of work has also ignored important political and social justice concerns, including how power dynamics unfold in the upscaling of local experiments. The question of how we might connect local and transnational initiatives with regards to equity is also important.

This panel features critical conceptual and empirical contributions to how urban experimentation, scaling, and transformative change interact. They invite contributions that explore:

  • Temporal and spatial perspectives: How do we move beyond linear accounts that emphasize hierarchical notions of scale? What other categories and analytical models can explain how experimentation leads to urban transformation?
  • Politics, participation, and place: How do political processes enable or prevent experimentation from delivering transformation? For example, who decides what constitutes experimentation and where it is undertaken? How do people experience experimentation in their everyday lives and contribute to opportunities for broader-scale urban transformation?
  • Normative assumptions: To what extent are normative views on experimentation embedded in dominant policy rationales? For example, is experimentation part of economic principles on growth and entrepreneurialism, which may reproduce urban conditions of inequality?

If you wish to contribute to this session, please send an abstract by February 12 to:, or, or

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