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Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment


Each chapter in our report - ‘Cities of the Future’ - uses the discussions during Forum meetings and the testimonies of the expert witnesses to generate new research questions.

We've focused on six themes and the links on the right will take you to two-page versions of each one:

  • Designing cities
  • Green spaces
  • Smarter cities: making the invisible city, visible
  • Governance: top down versus bottom up
  • Cities in a changing world
  • Finding 'satisfying' solutions

Each chapter is framed by an overarching question and begins by posing three further questions for which answers are poorly developed at the moment. The gaps and the ‘wicked problems’ people identified during the Forum meetings are then used to explore future research pathways in more detail. Boxes provide specific examples given by the witnesses and Forum members. Each section then concludes with a succinct statement outlining ‘The research challenge on the horizon’.

The testimonies of the witnesses and the conclusions drawn are necessarily qualitative and personal, as is the nature of such discussions at the edge of knowledge. They are built on the collective experience of the Forum’s participants, framing questions in different ways. 

The aim of the Forum is to generate new questions and to find ways in which research across and between different disciplines can help us to explore the ‘unknown unknowns’. Our hope is therefore that this report will stimulate new conversations between the worlds of academia, policy and industry and bring fresh ideas and perspectives in order to help to research, prepare for and address the challenges that cities face in the future.

Report Editors: Professor Paul Linden, Professor Doug Crawford-Brown, Dr Rosamunde Almond, Simon Patterson and Dr Elizabeth Tyler

CFSE topic leads: Professor Paul Linden, Professor Doug Crawford-Brown, Professor Koen Steemers and Professor Peter Guthrie

Report layout, design and illustration: Marylis Ramos


We would like to thank everyone who took part in Forum meetings over the course of the year, especially the expert witnesses and guests who joined us from across and outside Cambridge and who contributed their time, knowledge and expertise to these discussions:

Witnesses: Professor Alan Short, Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Alex Nickson, Professor Ash Amin, Dr Britt Baillie, Carmel McQuaid, Professor Catharine Ward Thompson, Dr Craig Davies, Dr David Ogilvie, Dr David Pencheon, Diane Haigh, Dr Felipe Hernández, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Professor Frank Kelly, Jo da Silva, Jon Alexander, Kirsten Henson, Professor Lawrence Sherman, Lawrie Robertson, Professor Marcial Echenique, Mark Kleinman, Professor Mike Batty, Professor Richard Sennett, Simon Marsh, Stephen Aldridge and Professor Steve Evans.

Guests Professor Alison Smith, Professor Charlie Kennel, Dr Claire Craig, Darren Ferry, David Hart, Dr Deborah Pullen, Ed Barsley, Eleri Jones, Dr Felipe Hernández, Dr Heather Cruickshank, Hywel Lloyd, Jamie Anderson, Professor Lynn Gladden, Mark Dowson, Max Sternberg, Mike Ratterman, Dr Peter Hedges, Richard Morris, Stijn van Ewijk, Dr Wendy Pullan and Dr Ying Jin

Partners: This topic was carried out in partnership with the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy under their Policy Challenges Programme. 

If you would like more information about this report or any of the chapters, please contact Dr Rosamunde Almond ().