EUR researchers set out basic principles of future-proof city

Eight researchers from the Erasmus Initiative ‘Vital Cities and Citizens’ (VCC) have set out what it takes to make a city vital and keep it that way in a co-authored position paper. It provides administrators, policy makers and city residents with valuable insights from a range of specialist fields. In the words of researcher Dr José Nederhand: “We are committed to improving quality of city life through research. Together with organisations, businesses, policymakers (including municipal ones) and inhabitants, we are working to create a vital city that can take a few knocks.”

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and because that proportion is continuing to grow, the social structure and culture of the city are becoming ever more complex and diverse. VCC is investigating the conditions that are essential to a city when it comes to equality, safety, sustainability and coexistence.

Various scientific disciplines

Nederhand: “The great thing is that we are able to draw on different areas of science: psychology, sociology, public administration, educational sciences, communication, art and culture, history, development studies and anthropology. This interdisciplinary approach helps us better understand the issues facing cities. It also helps us to recognise and support initiatives that have social impact.”

Lens of urban vitality

“Cities are organic and dynamic places. A vital city provides the space for informal relationships and networks that emerge from the bottom up. We call this principle the ‘lens of urban vitality’. If organisations, businesses, municipalities and residents look through this lens, they will come up with a vision for a city that can take a few knocks,” says Nederhand. In the position paper, VCC researchers identify four central themes that play key roles for a vital city: Inclusive Cities and Diversity, Resilient Cities and People, Smart Cities and Communities, and Sustainable and Just Cities.

Information and contact

Although the Vital Cities and Citizens researchers are already working with administrators and city dwellers, they are interested in getting to know organisations, businesses, policy makers (including municipal ones) and residents’ and other initiatives that are also committed to making their city vital and future-proof. For more information, contact Mike Duijn ( or one of the other researchers. Please also see the short summary of the position paper 'a vital city can take a few knocks'.

dr. Flor Avelino
dr. Michael Duijn
dr. Jiska Engelbert
dr. Brian Godor
dr. Naomi van Stapele
dr. Jan Fransen
More information

Vital Cities and Citizens

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