Academic journal articles

Cowley, R. (2019). Yes, We Earthlings Should Colonize Mars if ‘Martian Rights’ Can Be Upheld. Theology and Science, 17(3): 332-340. DOI: 10.1080/14746700.2019.1632521

Caprotti, F. and Cowley, R. (2019). Varieties of smart urbanism in the UK: discursive logics, the state, and local urban context. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. Advance online publication.
DOI: 10.1111/tran.12284.

Cowley, R. and Caprotti, F. (2019). Smart City as Anti-Planning in the UK. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 37(3): 428–448. DOI: 10.1177/0263775818787506.

Cowley, R. (2018). Future Cities: Renarrating Human Agency. Palgrave Communications, 4, article 41. DOI: 10.1057/s41599-018-0103-y

Cowley, R., Joss, S. & Dayot, Y. (2018). The Smart City and its Publics: Insights from Across Six UK CitiesUrban Research & Practice, 11(1): 53-77. DOI: 10.1080/17535069.2017.1293150

Cowley, R., Barnett, C., Katzschner, T., Tkacz, N. & De Boeck, F. (2017). Forum: Resilience & Design.  Resilience: International Policies, Practices and Discourses, 6(1): 1-34. DOI: 10.1080/21693293.2017.1348506

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 practiceUrban Research & Practice, 10(3): 367-378. DOI: 10.1080/17535069.2016.1275618

Caprotti, F. & Cowley R. (2017). Interrogating Urban Experiments. Urban Geography, 38(9): 1441-1450. DOI:10.1080/02723638.2016.1265870

Joss, S., Cowley, R. & Tomozeiu, D. (2013). Towards the ‘ubiquitous eco-city’: an analysis of the internationalisation of eco-city policy and practiceUrban 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

Book chapters

Cowley, R. (2019). Eco-Cities. In Schwanen, T. & van Kempen, R. (eds.) Handbook of Urban Geography. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp.725-750. ISBN: 978-1785364594.

Cowley, R. (2019). Posthumanism as a Spectrum. In Chandler, D. & Fuchs, C. (eds) Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data. London: University of Westminster Press. ISBN: 978-1-912656-20-2.

Cowley, R., Caprotti, F., Ferretti, M. and Zhong, C. (2018). Ordinary Chinese Smart Cities: The Case of Wuhan. In Karvonen, A., Cugurullo, F. and Caprotti, F. (eds) Inside Smart Cities: Place, Politics and Urban InnovationLondon: Routledge, pp.45-64. ISBN: 978-0815348689.

Joss, S. & Cowley, R. (2017). National policies for local urban sustainability: a new governance approach? In Eames, M., Dixon, T., Hunt, M., and Lannon, S. (eds.) Retrofitting Cities for Tomorrow’s World. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp.227-246. ISBN: 978-1119007210.

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. Available as pdf and e-book here.

Research Reports

Cowley, R. (ed) (2019). A Manifesto for Governing Life on Mars. London: King’s College London. Available here.

Cowley, R. & Phillips, J. (2018). What Can Urban Sustainability Experiments Do? Summary of Discussion Points from Side-Event at WUF9, Kuala Lumpur, February 2018. Exeter: University of Exeter. ISBN: 978-0-9955574-8-2. Available here.

Cowley, R. & Caprotti, F. (eds) (2017). 中国与欧洲的智慧生态城市:2016年发展趋势与城市摘要  [Smart-Eco Cities in Europe and China: Trends and City Profiles 2016]. Exeter: University of Exeter (SMART-ECO Project). In Chinese. ISBN: 978-0-9955574-5-1. Available here.

Caprotti, F., Cowley, R., Bailey, I., Joss, S., Sengers, F., Raven, R., Spaeth, P., Jolivet, E., Tan-Mullins, M., Cheshmehzangi, A. and Xie, L. (2017). Smart Eco-City Development in Europe and China: Opportunities, Drivers and Challenges. Exeter: University of Exeter (SMART-ECO Project). ISBN: 978-0-9955574-6-8. Available here.

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. Available here.

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 here.

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 here.

Other publications

Joss, S. & Cowley, R. (2017). Preface. In Caprotti, F. & Yu, L. (eds) Sustainable Cities in Asia. London: Routledge. ISBN: 978-1-138-18748-1.

Cowley, R. (2016). Eco-Cities: Technological Showcases or Public Spaces? PhD thesis. London: University of Westminster. Download from EThOS here.

Cowley, R. (2016). Science Fiction and the Smart-Eco City. University of Westminster International Eco-Cities Initiative. Reflections, issue 14. Online here.

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. Available here.

Joss, S. & Cowley, R. (2015). Prospects for Standardising Urban Sustainability? Urban Update, 11 September. Online here.

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. Available here.

Cowley, R. (2014). Lessons from Utopia? The Case of Sejong City. University of Westminster International Eco-Cities Initiative. Online here.

Cowley, R. (2013). The Significance of the Urban Sphere of DreamsThe Individual. 60: 15-19.

Cowley, R. (2012). Sustainable Urban Development: How Different Can Portland Afford to Be? Oregon Planners’ Journal. Nov/Dec: 31-33.

Cowley, R. (2010). Enlivening Suburban Public Spaces in the EveningMA thesis. London: University of Westminster.



I’ll be giving a day of lectures on eco- and smart- urban development to a visiting delegation of government officials from Zhejiang Province (China), in Edinburgh, 4 September.

I took part in a roundtable ‘author meets critics’ discussion at the 2019 Nordic Geographers Meeting, in Trondheim, 16-19 June.

I gave a Royal Geographical Society talk on ‘Globalisation and the Future of the City‘ at King’s College Taunton, on 13 February.

I spoke on the panel at the book launch of Digital Objects, Digital Subjects at the University of Westminster, on 30 January.


I have accepted a role as Review Editor for the new open-access journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities.

I provided consultancy advice feeding into a new compendium of Smart and Sustainable City Districts, sponsored by Climate KIC, and edited by Dan Rigamonti in the CHORA Conscious City Lab at TU-Berlin.

I gave a day of lectures on low-carbon and eco-city development to a delegation of 20 officials from the Guangzhou Municipal Government, in London on 10 September.

I’ve been awarded funding by the MBR Space Settlement Challenge for a new research project: Lessons from the Eco-City: A Manifesto for Governing Life on Mars.  The project runs from July-December 2018.

I coorganised (with Gabriele Schliwa, University of Manchester) a double session on ‘Elusive Landscapes of “Design” in the City’ at this year’s RGS-IBG International Conference, in Cardiff, 28-31 August.

I presented on ‘Learning from second-tier smart cities: The Case of Wuhan, China’, at workshop on Learning from small cities: Governing imagined futures and the dynamics of change in India’s smart urban age, at King’s College London, 1 August.

I gave an invited paper at a symposium on ‘Smart Cities – Beyond the Standard Model’ organised by the Collegium Helveticum at ETH Zurich, on 3 May.

I coorganised an event on ‘What can urban sustainability experiments do’ at the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur (7-13 February).  Details of our session are here.

I gave an invited presentation at a workshop on ‘Smart Cities: studies, rankings and perspectives’ organised by Bordeaux Métropole, as part of the city’s ongoing Semaine Digitale activities, on 1 February.


I presented on ‘The Death of the Future? Exploring the Conceptual Tensions of the Smart Eco-City’ as part of the Smarter and/or Greener? International Smart Eco-Cities Workshop, at the University of Nottingham Ningbo (11-12 December).

I gave an invited talk at an event organised by the Town and Country Planning Association for a visiting delegation from Shandong Government (17 November).

I took part in a panel on urban experimentation at the 2017 Lund Conference on Earth System Governance, at Lund University (9-11 October).

I presented a paper at the RSA Research Network’s Third Conference on Smart City-Regional Governance for Sustainability, in Gdansk (21-22 Sept).

I gave an invited talk at the twelfth annual Chinese Conference on Urban Development and Planning in Haikou, Hainan Province (27-28 July).

I presented a paper on the ‘UK Smart City and its Publics’ at the Nordic Geographers Meeting 2017, in Stockholm (18-21 June).

I chaired a keynote paper by Orit Halpern on ‘The Smart Mandate: Ubiquitous Computing, Environment, and “Resilient Hope”’ at the 6th ICTS and Society Conference: Digital Objects, Digital Subjects (20-21 May).


I presented a paper on ‘Deglobalising the ‘Smart-Eco’ Urban Ideal’ at the Joint East Asian Studies Conference (JEAS) 2016, at SOAS in London (7-9 Sept).

I co-presented a paper on ‘Analysing the Actually Existing UK Smart City’ at the RGS-IGB International Conference 2016 (London, 30 Aug – 2 Sept).

I presented a paper in the ‘Technology for City, City for Technology’ session at the Society for the History of Technology’s annual meeting in Singapore, 22-26 June. This was part of a three-week research trip to Singapore, partly funded by the King’s College London Worldwide Partnership fund.

I convened a workshop on ‘Defetishising the City’ on 28 April, as part of a series of seven events on ‘Living in the Anthropocene: Rethinking the Nature/Culture Divide’ at various universities. You can see details of the series as a whole, and book tickets here.

I presented a research-in-progress paper with Youri Dayot on ‘The Smart City and Its Publics’ at the Centre for the Study of Democracy on 5 April.  This relates to a project we’re currently working on with Simon Joss at the University of Westminster. See here.

I was the lead organiser of a one-day conference on ‘Design After Planning: Examining the Shift from Epistemology to Topology’ at the University of Westminster on 5 Feb. See event website.


I took part in a four-day workshop in Aswan, jointly organised by Cairo University and the University of Lincoln, Dec 13-16, on ‘Rebuilding Communities for Resilient and Sustainable Development: Eco-Cities’ (more info here), where I presented a short piece on ‘Experimental Publics’.

I started work as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Dept of Geography at King’s College London on July 15.  I’m working with Federico Caprotti on a 3-year ESRC-funded project looking at ‘smart-eco cities’ in Europe and China (see here).

I presented on ‘Reclaiming the publicness of the sustainable city’ at the New Human Geography Research weekly seminar at King’s on Wednesday 23 September (see here).

I was the Network Facilitator for the Leverhulme international research network ‘Tomorrow’s City Today – An International Comparison of Eco-City Frameworks’ from October 2014 – June 2015 (see here).

I gave a paper on ‘Reframing the Problem of Public Space in the Sustainable City’ at the RC21 Conference in Urbino (Italy), 27-29 August 2015. I was part of the theoretical panel (B2) on ‘Public Space in the Ideal City: Ambiguous Imaginaries’ in Stream B (‘Images of the City’). Conference details here.

I co-organised an international conference on ‘Tomorrow’s City Today: Prospects for Standardising Sustainable Urban Development’, held on 12 June 2015 at the University of Westminster. This marked the culmination of three years of research conducted by our Leverhulme-funded international research network. Download the programme here.

I also co-organised workshops on ‘Eco-City Frameworks at a Crossroads’ at Westminster (11 Feb 2015) and UCL (13 March 2015).  More details here.

My PhD project was selected for presentation at the University of Westminster Graduate School ‘Next Generation Research’ showcasing event on 11 March 2015.  Read the accompanying publication here.


I presented a paper on ‘Meeting Uncertainty with Decentralised Experimentation: the Case of Portland’s EcoDistricts’ in the ‘Urban Uncertainty’ panel at the RGS-IGB International Conference 2014 at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington.  For conference details, see here.

I gave a talk on ‘Reclaiming the Eco-City’ at The Bartlett (UCL) on 26 June 2014.

I gave a lecture on ‘Urban Problems and Urban Solutions’ at Soongsil University (Seoul) on 19 June 2014.

I co-organised a 2-day event, ‘New Perspectives on the Problem of the Public’, which took place 15-16 May 2014, at the University of Westminster. For details, see here.

I introduced Andrew Barry’s (2013) Material Politics: Disputes along the Pipeline book at the Centre for the Study of Democracy’s ‘Materialisms Old and New’ reading group on Thursday 24 April 2014.  For details, see here.

I presented some of my research in a lecture ‘What has become of the Eco-City?’ for the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies at the University of Cambridge on 7 May 2014.

I spoke on ‘Eco-Cities as ‘Applied Fiction’?’ as part of the 2-day ‘Present Fictions’ public event at the David Roberts Art Foundation, London NW1 (28-29 March 2014).

I spoke at an event at the LSE on Friday 21st Feb 2014: ‘Reviving Famagusta: From Ghost Town to Eco-city?’  Further details here.

I spoke about ‘Planning for Urban Sustainability: The Revenge of the Real’ at the RCA Humanities Forum on 24 January 2014.

I participated in the groundbreaking ‘Tomorrow’s City Today’ conference in Bellagio in September 2012, and was heavily involved in the writing of the report, which can be downloaded from:

During the summer of 2012, I worked on the EU-funded FP7 ‘GAVA’ project, developing postgraduate curricula on the theme of ‘Governance for Sustainable Development’. This included speaking at a public event in Rethymno, organised by the University of Crete:

Teaching and lectures

I’m currently teaching on several modules in the Geography Dept at King’s College London:

  • undergraduate: Urban Geography – Exploring the City; Field Research in Human Geography; IGS (dissertation) supervision; Hong Kong fieldtrip
  • postgraduate: Understanding the Sustainable City; Governing the Sustainable City; dissertation supervision

I have given lectures on two ‘Green Cities’ courses at the University of Oregon (October 2012, May 2013), for the ‘Cities and Space’ Social Anthropology paper at the University of Cambridge (Feb 2013; March 2014), and on the ‘Environmental Politics’ (Nov 2013) and ‘Global Politics of Energy and Environmental Change’ (March 2016) modules at the University of Westminster. I taught on the ‘Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods’ MA module in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster (2014-2016). I led seminars and gave lectures on the ‘Political Research’ undergraduate module at Westminster each year between 2011 and 2016.