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Abstract: There is considerable debate regarding the contribution to be made by higher education institutions and the researchers they employ in realising environmentally sustainable urban spaces, and the relationship between academic research and lay knowledge. Drawing on previous work, the paper identifies roles that may be played by academic researchers in building sustainable urban locations. Extending the focus to sub-city scale the paper illustrates how the roles played are affected by structural and non-structural factors which also shape the nature of collaboration among university researchers and other participants in urban sustainability projects. The paper does this on the basis of analysis and reflection upon research and related activities taking place over the period 2007-2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England, focusing on a project called Newcastle Low Carbon Neighbourhoods. The paper’s findings support the argument that academic researchers play multiple roles in such initiatives, and that national structural and locally contingent factors affect the manner of collaboration with non-specialists and the durability of urban sustainability projects.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session “SCORAI I: Degrowth from a sustainable consumption perspective” at the 4th International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014.