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Dr Robert Cowley

Dr Robert Cowley

  • Academics

Lecturer in Sustainable Cities

Research subject areas

  • Policy and society
  • Geography and the environment


As well as lecturing, Robert currently works as Project Coordinator on a three-year research project Smart Eco-Cities: A Comparative Study of Europe and China. Previously, he was Network Coordinator for the Leverhulme Trust-funded international research consortium Tomorrow’s City Today – an International Comparison of Eco-City Frameworks. He has lectured internationally and co-authored several publications on eco-cities and urban sustainability.

His PhD thesis, completed at the University of Westminster, explored the public dimensions of conceptualised and implemented ‘eco-city’ initiatives, and included case studies of Portland, Oregon (USA) and Sejong City (South Korea). Before that, he took an MA in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Westminster (2010). His first degree was in Modern Languages & Literature (Russian and Modern Greek), at the University of Oxford.

He works as Project Coordinator on SMART-ECO, an ESRC-funded international consortium project (2015-18) which involves academics in the UK, China, Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as the national funding agencies from these countries.

He previously worked as Network Facilitator for the Leverhulme Trust-funded international research consortium ‘Tomorrow’s City Today - An International Comparison of Eco-City Frameworks’ (2012-15), in the International Eco-Cities Initiative at the University of Westminster.

His PhD research explored the socio-political dimensions of ‘eco-city’ initiatives around the world, with a particular focus on the ‘publicness’ of the urban space which was envisaged or resulted.

Rob is affiliated with the Urban Futures Research Domain at King’s.


  • ‘Smart’ and ‘eco’ urban initiatives
  • Governance of urban sustainability
  • Publics and public space
  • sustainability transitions

Robert’s research focuses on the proliferation of diverse ‘eco’ and ‘smart’ urban initiatives and policies around the world. In particular, he is interested in the way that these ideas travel and are translated into varying practices in different settings, the conceptual and practical tensions between the ‘eco’ and the ‘smart’, and the significance of these experimental approaches to urban development for traditional modes of planning.


For a full list of publications, please see Robert's research profile.

Further details

Please see Robert's Research Staff Profile for further details.