Scales to Aspects Interdisciplinary Encounters

Radically Inclusive: The Just Transition to Circular Urbanism

In this video, Caroline discusses the importance of spatial planning in circular thinking and how urban experimentation can help facilitate the understanding of both spatial dimensions as well as their social implications.

Main Takeways

  • Great global challenges such as climate change, migration and escalating inequalities have daunting repercussions, but they also challenge us to new systems and make structural changes in our lives. This requires resilience, foresight and adaptability.
  • Circularity can help help us develop an integrative approach but so far, most initiatives stress resource efficiency and waste management often neglecting the the spatial and social implications of sustainable choices.
  • Urban experimentation is crucial for transformative urban change: examples such as Kolenkibuurt in Amsterdam and Potterij in Mechelen can help us understand conditions of proximity; how to phase out outdated practices; and what kind of support is required from the government.

Further Reading

  • Giddens, A. (2009). The Politics of Climate Change. Polity Press.
  • Grin, J., Rotmans, J., & Schot, J. (2010). Transitions to Sustainable Development: New Directions in the Study of Long Term Transformative Change. In New York. Routledge.
  • Newton, C., Willems, E., Schipper, K., & Roorda, C. (2019). De circulaire stad van morgen. Inclusief en ruimtelijk verankerd. Ruimte, 68–71.
  • Pieterse, E. (2008). City Futures. Confronting the Crisis of urban development. UCT Press.
  • Sassen, S. (2014). Expulsions: Brutality and complexity in the global economy. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Spivak, G. (2002). The Rest of the World. In M. Zournazi (Ed.), Hope: New philosophies for change (pp. 172–190). Pluto Press.
  • Swilling, M. (2020). The Age of Sustainability. Just Transitions in a Complex World. Routledge.
  • Swilling, M., & Annecke, E. (2012). Just Transitions. Explorations of sustainability in an unfair world. UCT Press.


Caroline Newton
Caroline Newton
Associate Professor

Dr. Caroline Newton is an urban planner, an architect, and a political scientist. Her work and research focus on the social and political dimensions of design. Caroline’s research interests encompass the complexity of architecture and planning in post-colonial contexts, intersectionality in/for design and planning, participatory planning and designerly approaches to knowledge production. She advocates for revitalized urban professional participation and the reintroduction of advocacy to the forefront of planning and spatial practices. She advances a critical and involved approach to strategic planning, presenting planning techniques as acts of resistance, as enablers of alternative spatial possibilities and imaginations.

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Circularity for Educators

The platform is intended to provide with content on either circularity or pedagogy for and about circularity. It is one of the outcomes of the Circular Impulse Initiative (CII), a project intending to enhance the integration of circularity in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment education. The platform mainly aims to help tutors get better acquainted with circularity in the built environment by providing a series of resources on this subject that they can either view to get better informed or directly share with their students in class or online. A large number of the Faculty's professors and researchers have contributed substantially both in creating a coherent narrative for circularity in the built environment as well as further elaborating on different aspects of it. Besides this one, a new platform for interaction and direct exchange was also established in parallel that we call ‘Educators for Circularity‘. This one offers the opportunity for all of us to meet and share our experiences and learn from one another.

Visit Educators for Circularity