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OnderzoekUrban and Regional Studies Institute

Faculty Research Mission and Programme: tWIST

Towards Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation

The Faculty of Spatial Sciences research mission and programme rests on the three threads of wellbeing, innovation and spatial transformation. The links between Wellbeing and Innovation capture the relationships between the level of human development and the processes of change and improvement which bring about these levels of development. The research agenda is unique in that it examines and interprets these relationships in terms of the processes of Spatial Transformation taking place in society. Societies and individuals strive to improve their wellbeing, their quality of life, happiness, and their ability to influence these outcomes, and this striving is driven by innovation – by continuous processes of change and improvement. One aspect of this process is the increasing human mobility which radically changes the geographical distribution of wellbeing and innovation. These changes both drive and are driven by geographical mechanisms, and the rural and urban consequences of these spatial transformations impact differentially on issues of ageing, health, governance, technology, planning, entrepreneurship, culture, investment, and housing. As such, spatial transformation and mobility are not promising for everyone and everything to the same extent, and greater mobility often implies increasing differences between people in terms of their stake in society and their ability to influence and determine their own destinies. This raises many questions around the individual and collective sense of belonging and locational behaviour, and tWIST contributes to and complements the University of Groningen’s Healthy Ageing, Sustainable Society and Energy research priorities. Society is ageing and also becoming more geographically mobile, and the outcome of this is that growing social inequalities in terms of wellbeing, health and wealth are interrelated with emerging spatial inequalities.

Our vision of tWIST is of

a society which is being transformed spatially in ways that allow for high levels of wellbeing and innovation

and our mission as (URSI/Faculty) is

to undertake and disseminate world-leading and highly distinctive research which helps to realise to this vision .

The world-leading nature of different aspects of our research derives from our goal to continuously produce work which is communicable to the global academy and publishable in world-leading research outlets. While our research encompasses issues which operate across the geographical scale from a very local level to global dimensions, all of our research aims to be highly original, and capable of directly engaging with scholars, stakeholders and observers all over the world.

The distinctive character of our research is that it explores from a uniquely multi-methodological perspective the role which place, space, identity and culture play in the spatial and demographic transformation of society. Our research spans and integrates a range of qualitative and quantitative analytical approaches to both theoretical and applied geographical research. Working in teams, the multi-methodological approaches we employ combine case study, taxonometric, statistical, GIS and econometric models of research in a coherent, consistent, and seamless manner.

The policy-relevant features of our research derive from the issues we investigate, and also the ways we investigate them lend themselves naturally to policy-thinking. Our research is built on evidence and experience, while encountering issues of perception and identity. This provides for both a grounded and nuanced understanding of individual and social behaviour as a driver of, and a response to, spatial transformation. This allows for coherent policy analysis, design and evaluation.

Within the overall Faculty/URSI research theme of towards Wellbeing, Innovation and Spatial Transformation, there are four research clusters within URSI which contribute different insights and aspects to the overall research theme. The four distinct research clusters reflect the different methodological and topical emphases we have evolved over several years, and each of the individual research clusters has a research sub-agenda which explicitly operates under the overall umbrella of tWIST. The research sub-agendas of the four research clusters are entitled:

  1. Place, Identity and Wellbeing
  2. Population and Wellbeing in Context
  3. Economy and Place
  4. Institutional Innovation and Spatial Transformation

The explicit intention of these four individual research sub-agendas is to focus attention on the specific lines of research in which we have strength and scale within the overall tWIST programme, and also to better facilitate the linking of different methodological approaches across URSI and within the context of tWIST. Our overall research programme tWIST combines different methodological approaches and priorities, and each of these sub-agendas contribute directly to the building and strengthening of one or more of the threads on which tWIST rests.

Laatst gewijzigd:01 februari 2016 11:04