Prof James Evans

Professor of Human Geography

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Research interests

My research explores the geographical aspects of smart cities and urban sustainability, primarily contributing to the disciplines of Geography and Urban Studies. I have a long-standing interest in the relationship between environmental science and urban thought, particularly in terms of how organizing concepts like for example resilience and systems thinking structure contemporary approaches to cities.

This interest led to a current focus on the role of living laboratories and experiments as new modes of governance being adopted by cities to achieve smarter and more sustainable forms of development (Evans 2011; Evans and Karvonen, 2013; 2014; Trencher et al., 2014).  

I am also interested in interdisciplinary research in Geography more broadly (Evans and Randalls, 2009; Jones and Evans, 2011), and have contributed to the development of mobile methods across the social sciences (Evans and Jones, 2011; Jones and Evans, 2012).

Taken as a whole my goal is to influence disciplinary approaches to conceptualizing and studying the spatial and political dimensions of innovation and learning.

Research Projects

Current Research Projects

Triangulum: the three point project (demonstrate, disseminate, replicate), EU Horizon 2020 Lighthouse, € 25 420 598, Co-PI. (UoM income = £800k). This five year project will deploy and evaluate sustainable and smart city solutions. It is highly interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral, involving 26 core partners across six countries.

Advancing Urban Innovation: Living Labs for Sustainable Building and Planning, Formas, £126 566, Co-PI. This three year project studies the role of living labs in sustainable urban development in Europe.

Accelerating the University Living Lab innovation system, EPSRC KT Challenge with Arup and Robert Turley Associates, £19 573. Principal Investigator. This project will develop and test a multidisciplinary rapid response process that builds upon and develops the University Living Lab and Manchester Cycling Lab innovation system.

Shaping the Future City? Enabling world-class sustainable development (Manchester Cycling Lab), ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and Manchester City Council, £32 999. Principal Investigator. This project established a living lab to support the Future Cities initiative being coordinated by Manchester City Council, building on the University Living Lab platform.

University Living Lab for Sustainability. University of Manchester Research Institute, £53 490. Principal Investigator. This project aimed to transform the University of Manchester campus into a site for applied teaching and research activities around sustainability and low carbon energy.

Learning loops in energy efficient urban design: applying Social Return on Investment (SROI) to the commercial building, ESRC CASE, £54 000. Principal Investigator. This three year CASE PhD explores how to capture the social benefits of higher design quality with an empirical focus on health buildings.


Research and projects