Call for sessions 2021

OsloMet Urban Research Conference 2021: Urban cris(e)s

27-28 October 2021

Global crises, both sudden and gradual, challenge how we live in, and organize, city societies. 2020 emerged as a year of multiple, co-existing crises, challenging pre-existing notions of urban structures as solid and gradually evolving. The covid pandemic shut down societies as we know them and demonstrated the potential for radical urban change. Notably, the pandemic intersected – in both complementary and contradictory ways – with pre-existing crises: the climate catastrophe, unprecedented levels of inequality, a housing market better suited for investors than the people in need of housing, and a population increasingly polarized politically, and largely segregated – both in physical and virtual spaces. The links between these crisis-phenomena are rarely explored, yet they are essential if the goal is transformation towards sustainable futures.

The severity of the covid crisis, and its intersections with the multiple crises already persistent in our contemporary spaces, had a particular urban dimension. For almost two years, cities around the world were shut down as the pandemic targeted many of the most treasured aspects of urban life, and reinforced underlying social inequalities that still characterize our cities. The aftermath of the pandemic will similarly have a particular impact on urban areas, with the material, social and psychological consequences (both long- and short-term) still unknown. Will cities rapidly bounce back to their pre-pandemic selves – with all the positive and negative qualities of the 21st century urban life quickly re-emerging, or will we see a future where urban residents – supported by new digital developments – choose to abandon the cities for more spacious areas with more accessible housing markets? In short: What kind of city are we now returning to?

Cities are currently observed to take the lead globally and nationally in tackling crises of diverse types. However, limited research and few conferences have examined how co-existing crises are to be dealt with. At this years’ OsloMet Urban Research Conference, we put the multiple crises influencing contemporary cities center stage. The conference fleshes out the consequences of co-existing crises for cities. It explores how one type of crisis is compounded by other forms of crises and how complex, conflictual and collective crises can be tackled across actors and scales. It also seeks to explore the opportunities given by crises for rethinking and redeveloping cities. How can we now act to ensure that we use the multiple crises as opportunities to improve future urban spaces?

In this call for sessions, we encourage scholars and practitioners to formulate session proposals that broadly connects to the theme of Urban cris(e)s, but also topics that address other contemporary challenges for cities. We suggest session on topics such as (but not limited to):

  • Understanding complex societal crises and their intersectional nature, and the role of cities and public institutions in navigating and controlling this new terrain
  • The potential for change demonstrated by the pandemic: can the radical change demonstrated by covid transform urban society at large?
  • Pragmatic solutions vs. radical political criticism
  • The covid pandemic and the post-pandemic city: effects, lessons, implications
  • The role of diverse actors and local societies in responding to multiple crises across the socio-spatial city landscape
  • Inequality, segregation and exclusion
  • The climate crisis and the ‘new green deal’: could the pandemic be a watershed for a new climate policy?
  • Drivers, barriers and new challenges for a more sustainable city future; how do we build a socio-ecologically just city?
  • Gender perspectives on urban crises
  • Securing diversity in the city: contradictions, opportunities, imaginations?
  • More-than-human and ecological responses to human-made crises
  • Planning for the unplannable: Urban planning and governance in the face of crises
  • New mobilities
  • Control and surveillance in times of crisis
  • The role of knowledge in addressing critical social and institutional challenges
  • The 21st century housing market: a foretold crisis?

Session proposals should be 250-500 words and contain a title, a description of the proposed session, suggested topics for contributions, name(s) of organizer(s) and contact info.

Session proposals must be submitted no later than May 19th, 2021, and should be sent to

We are planning for a physical conference here in Oslo in October, but digital/hybrid session formats are welcomed. Sessions can be held in the Scandinavian languages or in English.

If the session is accepted as part of the conference program, a ‘call for abstracts’ will be announced. The session hosts are responsible for receiving abstracts and making a program for the session, and to conduct the session in the given time slot.

Alternative session topics and formats are encouraged!