Sustainability, urbanization and (socio-) technology policies

 

Research Proposal 

Researchers

Research Group

Exploring the implications of (urban) nature-based solutions  (NBS) to tackle the climate emergency.

This thesis will explore through the prism of urban political ecology, critical environmental studies and/or environmental justice the socio-environmental implications of the implementation of Nature-Based solutions (NBS) at the urban and metropolitan scale to tackle the impending climate emergency, including the unintended impacts, distributional issues and the conflicts around them. It may focus also on how NBS open up/produce new ecosystem services for citizens.  It will seek a comparative perspective.

 
TURBA

Grassroots urban resilience to climate change and transformative learning.

This thesis will focus on advancing understanding on the learning processes embedded in community-led initiatives towards climate change in cities. These initiatives might include urban green infrastructure and agroecology projects linked to civic ecology practices, energy citizenship actions, and public awareness interventions by using digital technologies. Both individual and collective learning resulting from the design and implementation of these initiatives will be explored and its potential for transformation analyzed and discussed in terms of its implications for city resilience.

 
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
 
TURBA

The “twin green and digital transitions” in the urban context.

The European Green Deal focuses on promoting the “twin transitions”, that is, the parallel pursuit of the green and digital transitions, which render sustainability a problem to be solved through (primarily technological) innovation. The city of Barcelona has adopted the “twin transition” discourse, which is very prominent in visions for how the circular economy is to be implemented at the urban scale. The thesis will critically analyse the socio-technical imaginaries linked to the “twin transitions” and the “circular economy”, and assess how innovation, technology and digitalisation produce green policies in Barcelona.

Dr Zora Kovacic 
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
TURBA
 
Technological Change, City Change.
 
Description: we are interested in students pursuing research on the roots of the technological change for city change and social innovation process. In particular, we are interested in alternative experiments and practice around technology for urban participation (e.g. Decidim platform) that has the potential to produce autonomous technologies that challenge the orthodox approaches of smart city discourses and Big Tech corporations approach. In this regard, we look for students that want to research participatory process, ideas for change, democratic governance, and politicisation of technology discourse. In order to do that, we would require studying the different layers of technological appropriation and adoption for the common good. Key to this is an investigation on stewardship and the different aspect of this with regard to civic tech companies, lay people willing to participate to the decision-making process, and the innovation of the city machine. 
 
Dr Paolo Cardullo
 
 
TURBA
 
A Comparative Urban Technological Change.
 
Description: we are interested in supervising thesis in assess the specificity of Barcelona technological sovereignty ecosystem in relation to other cities seeking technological change and social innovation: is Barcelona a model for change or remains a niche of activists and enlightened politicians? We need to seek a comparative perspective according to the many faces of technological change. One possibility is to look at similar realities like Bologna where an active ecosystem and a traditional solidarity sector exist. Here too, we can research stewardship models, transfer of competencies and formative needs of the working realities as well as of the population at large
 
Dr Paolo Cardullo
 
 
TURBA
 
The political ecology of the geographies of internet. 
 
Description: As platform capitalisms advances and we are increasingly depend on the virtuality of the digital (the cloud, streaming, mobile phones, etc.) for our everyday life, these transformations are sustained by a not so visible but very material network of digital infrastructure (data centres, cables, antennas, etc) that intensively uses energy and raw materials. An infrastructure that goes beyond the central nodes of the digital economy and shapes particular forms of extractivism and uneven development. We are interested in students that would like to explore more in depth the relationship between urban transformation, sustainable development and Internet infrastructure from a political ecology and economy perspective.
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
TURBA
 
The social and economic impacts of urban transformation.
 
We are looking for students interested in either exploring how current urban transformations are shaping the city and in gentrifying, touristifying, or deepening urban segregation; or, to analyze the tools, strategies,and instruments, policies or grassroots responses to these processes.
 
Email: gfauth@uoc.edu
 
TURBA
 
The socio-environmental implications of working from home: lessons from the pandemic and beyond.
 
Description: This thesis may analyze, by focusing on the case of a city/metropolitan area, how the shift from office to homeworking is impacting upon urban water metabolism, energy metabolism, production of waste and mobility. Given that hybrid modes of work seem to take hold, it is critical to understand their socio-environmental implications in multiple environmental dimensions.
 
TURBA

Untangling the project of road pacification of N-II in el Maresme through the prism of Environmental Justice.

This thesis would analyze the rationales, governance forms and early effects of the recently announced N-II pacification in Southern Maresme (Metropolitan Region of Barcelona). This project, involving different governing bodies at different scales, is aimed at beautifying the beach area by drastically changing the mobility in this region. Civil society organizations (e.g. Salvem Baix Maresme) have claimed for the greening of this highway for long. However important socio-economic impacts in terms of environmental justice/privilege (e.g. who is to benefit from this corridor, who is to suffer the effects of it) have not been addressed so far by the civil society organizations nor the public administration. Will the upcoming implementation process include such concerns? Other relevant questions could be: Does social resistance emerge within this process? Does it include participation, and if so, to what extent? What effects are expected, or not, to have in the different municipalities? How is the green and health discourse mobilized and to what purpose? 

Dr Lucía Argüelles
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
TURBA

The political ecology of agriculture’s digitalization and the agriculture 4.0.

Drones, robots and big data are becoming important actors along the agricultural chain. This PhD thesis studies the turn towards an “agriculture 4.0.”, focusing on emerging power dynamics (e.g. between small and big farmers, ag companies and farmers, etc.). It will also question to what extent this institutionally-led plan really target farmers’ needs and how it addresses agriculture sustainability on its full breath, that is, considering economic, social and environmental factors. Which rationales sustain the introduction of such technologies in agriculture? What material aspects need to be considered (e.g. conditions, limitations that these technologies are tied to)? How labor dynamics are changed? How agrarian dynamics are shifted and to what effect? Can the digitalization be emancipatory for small-medium farmers? 

Dr Lucía Argüelles
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
TURBA

The European sustainability turn in agriculture: towards which direction?

This PhD thesis would inquire how agricultural technology development and distribution dynamics are shaped by the new European sustainability agendas (e.g. Farm2Fork program) and/or economic plans (e.g. Green New Deal, Next Generation funds) and which effects these might have in agrarian dynamics such as labor or farming income. While part of these programs value agroecological practices and logics, others envision a sustainability based on digitalization and technological innovation. Can these two visions be compatible? Can it shift the power imbalances embedded in the current agricultural technological model?

Dr Lucía Argüelles
 
Email:  hmarch@uoc.edu 
TURBA
A reflexive and critical approach to cities
 
The aim of this research area is to analyse the urban context from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective (law, urban planning, psychology, sociology, etc.) and to consider how urban processes are produced and developed in contemporary urban-social realities. In other words, we seek a deeper understanding of how cities work, not only as spaces for economic and financial production where specific forms of urban governance are developed, but above all as common and open spaces for the social and urban construction of visible or invisible phenomena (gender, care, vulnerabilities, etc.).
Email: mirelafiori@uoc.edu
 
Email: gfauth@uoc.edu
 
NODES
Sustainability and 6G networks
 
6G networks are seen as both a sustainability enabler in a range of sectors, due to their potential to monitor and optimize processes, as well as a problem for sustainability, because of their impact on energy consumption and material requirements. This research line will explore this dichotomy further by studying the socioenvironmental impact of 6G-powered hyperconnectivity. The notions surrounding sustainability in the telecommunications sector will also be analysed to gain further insight into how the future is seen by the sector and the narratives used to balance both positions.
Email: ccanobs@uoc.edu
 
Email: hmarch@uoc.edu

WINE

 

TURBA