Scientific Profile

Human development is intrinsically linked to spatiality. Places, spaces and spatial relations have been vital parameters in shaping the development pathway of humanity throughout history - and there is no reason to assume this may change in the future. On the contrary: Modern age globalization and multiple human violations of planetary boundaries rather seem to indicate a further growing relevance and consciousness of spatiality in our struggles for a better future within a limited biosphere.

Today there is a growing recognition in science, policy and society of the anthropogenic ecological crisis we are facing, including persistent problems such as biodiversity and ecosystem service loss, climate change, resource depletion and disrupted biochemical flows or nutrient cycles. This crisis urges to instigate and accelerate deep sustainability transformations i.e. systemic changes in the natures, cultures, structures and practices characterizing human development, oriented at long-term social, ecological and economic justice. At the same time, it implies entirely new conditions for the conception and analysis of spatial change.

Understanding and shaping the role of space in sustainability transformations has thus become a vital challenge for humanity. This is clearly underlined by current megatrends in spatial development: Urbanization, urban sprawl, rural decline and landscape homogenization are expected to continue, with urban areas becoming home to 70% of the global population by 2050. Meanwhile, major differences exist between spatial dynamics and patterns in different world regions in terms of shrinkage, stagnation or rapid growth.
In science, spatiality has been explored and interpreted by a variety of disciplines and in multiple ways, engaging with its physical, ecological, socio-cultural, political, economic and technological dimensions. In this, the crucial importance of relational configurations spanning across spatial scales has been thoroughly demonstrated. Moreover, since the turn of the millennium spatial sciences have become increasingly connected to the emerging field of sustainability science, examining interactions between social, ecological, economic and engineered systems to develop long-term and just solutions for the human-ecological crisis.

Against this backdrop, the scientific remit of the DLGS is to develop novel insights and approaches to face the challenges of spatial sustainability transformations. We encourage and support pioneering studies that:

  • Advance scientific concepts and theory to understand and interpret phenomena of spatial sustainability transformations, regarding their characteristics, dynamics, orientation and governance;
  • Explore the boundaries of scientific disciplines to develop pertinent interdisciplinary approaches and/or engage in transdisciplinary research for knowledge co-creation with stakeholders;
  • Provide novel empirical insights and evidence based on quantitative and/or qualitative data collection and comparative research designs, that can guide future policy and practice;
  • Adopt a sound overall scientific methodology and develop innovative methods, techniques and tools for future research.