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Research Staff

Dr Robert Cowley

Robert Cowley

Lecturer and Research Associate

Skype: robert.cowley9

Department of Geography
King's College London  
K4L.04 King's Building  
Strand Campus  



Research Interests

  • the governance of urban sustainability
  • publics and public space
  • sustainability transitions


Robert Cowley is a Lecturer and Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Geography at King’s College London. He is working as a project coordinator on the ESRC-funded SMART-ECO CITY project, which runs from 2015-2018. This project aims to provide the first systematic comparative analysis of green economy-focused eco-city projects in China and Europe, seeking to understand their successes and failures through the lens of transitions theory. He is a member of the Urban Futures research domain.

Robert joined King’s in July 2015, having previously worked at the University of Westminster as a research assistant in the International Eco-Cities Initiative, and as Network Facilitator for the Leverhulme Trust-funded Tomorrow’s City Today international research consortium. His PhD research project explored the socio-political dimensions of urban sustainability initiatives, with a particular focus on publicness of the urban space through which they are realised.

He has co-authored several publications and lectured internationally on the subject of the eco-city.

Selected publications

Cowley, R., Barnett, C., Katzschner, T., Tkazc, N. & De Boeck, F. (2017). Forum: Resilience & Design.  Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses.

Cowley, R., Joss, S. & Dayot, Y. (2017). The Smart City and its Publics: Insights from Across Six UK Cities. Urban Research & Practice.

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Datta, A. Castán Broto, V., Gao, E., Georgeson, L., Herrick, C., Odendaal, N. & Joss, S. (2017). The New Urban Agenda: key opportunities and challenges for policy and practice. Urban Research & Practice.

Caprotti, F. & Cowley R. (2016). Interrogating Urban Experiments. Urban Geography.  doi: 10.1080/02723638.2016.1265870

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Flynn, A., Joss, S., & Yu, L. (2016). Smart-Eco Cities in the UK: Trends and City Profiles 2016. Exeter: University of Exeter (SMART-ECO Project). ISBN: 978-0-9955574-0-6. Download pdf [with this link: ]

Cowley, R. (2015).  In defence of top-down sustainability planning: the case of Sejong City. In: Condie, J. and Cooper, A. (eds.) Dialogues of sustainable urbanisation: Social science research and transitions to urban contexts. Penrith: University of Western Sydney, pp.36-40. ISBN: 978-1-74108-360-6. Download PDF.

Cowley, R. (2015). Reframing the Problem of Public Space in the Sustainable City. Paper presented at RC21 Conference 2015: The Ideal City: between myth and reality. Representations, policies, contradictions and challenges for tomorrow’s urban life. Urbino, 27-29 August 2015. Download PDF.

Joss, S., Cowley, R., de Jong, M., Müller, B., Park, B-S., Rees, W., Roseland, M. & Rydin, Y. (2015). Tomorrow’s City Today: Prospects for Standardising Sustainable Urban Development. London: University of Westminster. ISBN: 978-0-9570527-6-5. Download PDF.

Cowley, R. (2014). Reclaiming Utopia: the Eco-City and the Revenge of the Real. In: Faust, C. (ed.) Prova 2: Humanities Research Forum Journal 2014. London: Royal College of Art, pp.92-98. ISBN: 910694728-10-39-100642-03-0.

Joss, S., Cowley, R. & Tomozeiu, D. (2013). Towards the ‘ubiquitous eco-city’: an analysis of the internationalisation of eco-city policy and practice. Urban Research and Practice. 6(1): 54-74.  DOI: 10.1080/17535069.2012.762216

Joss, S., Tomozeiu, D. & Cowley, R. (2012). Eco-city indicators: governance challenges. WIT Transactions on Ecology and The Environment. 155: 109–120. DOI: 10.2495/SC120101 

Joss, S., Tomozeiu, D. & Cowley, R. (2011). Eco-Cities – A Global Survey 2011. London: University of Westminster International Eco-Cities Initiative. ISBN: 978-0-9570527-1-0. Download PDF.

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