Cities, Regions and Mobility

The Cities, Regions and Mobility subtheme comprises political and social geographers and urban/regional planners looking at urban and rural processes and population mobility, including migration.

Our research encompasses a range of issues relevant to planning decisions, including spatial and strategic planning,  urbanity and well-being, and planning and development in the Global South. Research also explores intersections with political issues, including how cities are affected by war and conflicts, and the social inclusion of migrants. Our research into urbanity, well-being and sustainability led to our educational initiatives. The final year undergraduate module on ‘Urbanity and well-being’ has been established due to the EUniwell project at the University of Birmingham. At the University of Birmingham Dubai’s campus, there is ongoing work between the university and local schools to co-produce environmental education.  The research subtheme members contribute to the social and political impact by engaging with local communities and national and international policymakers.

Research areas

The subtheme explores a series of issues around spatial and strategic planning (David AdamsAustin BarberCharles Goode, and Adam Sheppard), technology-oriented urbanisation and infrastructure development (Rakib Akhtar). Our research examines the relationship between planning policy and housing (Katia AttuyerCharles Goode). We work on the governance of climate adaptation and mitigation in urban areas (Julian Clark), and help to facilitate city and local authorities to make right decisions when it comes to future policies around sustainability (Dilum Dissanayake).  

Members of the group advocate for the public participation in urban planning (Andrea Frank), involve children and young people into the discussions on how cities need to look like (Sophie Hadfield-Hill). 

The intersection between urbanity and well-being is an essential strand of our studies. We explore how green spaces affect well-being (Phil JonesCharles Goode), how social and physical environment may affect well-being in later life (Katia Attuyer), and what the implications of the lack of urban infrastructure, such as electricity and water, on the mental health of people in conflict-affected societies (Irina Kuznetsova).  

A big division of the work among colleagues has been done in cities in Global South including urban planning education in South Africa (David AdamsPhil Jones), waste and pollution (Natasha Cornea), energy poverty (Rosie Day), authoritarian populism (Rakib Akhtar) and well-being (Irina KuznetsovaJohn Round). Some member of the group focus on the rural studies including political economy of agricultural development in Global South (Fraser Sugden and Rakib Akhtar), and the impact of migration on  the rural development in the Global South (Fraser SugdenIrina KuznetsovaJohn Round). 

Another area of research is focused on questions on how cities are affected by war and conflicts (Sara FregoneseAdam Ramadan) with Sara Fregonese’s research also working on how terrorism and counterterrorism impact on the everyday experiences of public space in cities. The research theme also considers the challenges placed on urban societies and how migrants and immigration policies are reconstituting urban spaces and what can be undertaken to improve the social inclusion of migrants (Melanie GriffithsIrina KuznetsovaJohn Round). 

Research funding

Our research is funded by a variety of sources, including UKRI, the ERC. Specific projects include:

  • Home - CLEETS Global Center ( (Dilum Dissanayake PI, Phil Jones CI)
  • eHUBS - Smart Shared Green Mobility Hubs | Interreg NWE ( (Dilum Dissanayake)
  • Atmospheres of (counter)terrorism in European cities (Sara Fregonese)
  • ‘Leaving something behind’ – Migration governance and agricultural and rural change in ‘home’ communities, AGRUMIG, the European Research Council (ERC), under the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme (No. 822730) (Fraser Sugden, Irina Kuznetsova, John Round) 
  • Futures of Ukraine: youth, mobility and post-war reconstruction’, Quality-related Policy Support Fund (Irina Kuznetsova PI)
  • Understanding youth perceptions on sustainability in the UAE: co-producing an inclusive environmental education to promote engagement in COP28 and beyond, funded by FCDO (John Round PI)
  • The impacts of the Urban Greening Project in West Bromwich in partnership with Sandwell Council, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council acceleration account (Charles Goode PI)
  • The planning legacy of the Commonwealth Games in Perry Barr, funded by the Quality-related Policy Support fund (Austin Barber PI, Charles Goode Co-I and Katia Attuyer Co-I)
  • RTPI Early Career Researcher Grant for research on residential development and young people’s attitudes towards car-dependency (Charles Goode PI)
  • Urbanity and well-being: co-designing an authentic teaching approach, funded by the EUniwell, European Universities for Well-being, Erasmus+ (Irina Kuznetsova lead, Phil Jones, John Round, Jessica Pykett)

Postgraduate opportunities

PhD Funding Sources

PhD projects within this subtheme are potentially funded by the UK ESRC (through the Midlands Graduate School) and AHRC (through the Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership) as well as specific schemes run by e.g. UKRI and Leverhulme. We have a number of international postgraduate researchers funded through governmental and employer scholarship schemes and international funders such as Commonwealth scholarships.

Mini-forum on Ageing, Wellbeing and Cities

21 March, Thursday 13:00 – 15:00
Location: OLD GYM LG10
Also, via zoom: (Meeting ID: 825 5581 1996)


13:00 – 13:50
Round table – Bringing ageing into the Sustainability and wellbeing debates

Panellists: Dr Katia Attuyer, Dr Rosie Day, Dr Irina Kuznetsova (GEES, University of Birmingham), Tess Osborne (University of Leicester)

Moderator: Dr Julian Clark (GEES)

The ageing theme cuts across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including good health, gender equality, poverty eradication, and sustainable cities. The round table offers a space for a conversation between representatives of different disciplines to highlight the current research on well-being, ageing and sustainability. 

It is well known that some groups of older adults disproportionally face challenges such as accessing basic services and social support. Notably, the impact of urban well-being, such as accessible transport, access to the health infrastructures, urban greenery, clear air zones, and spaces for physical exercise and leisure on well-being amongst forcibly displaced older adults has received scant attention (Fleury-Bahi et al. 2022). However, older adults’ agency and their role as active community members and caregivers is significant. 

The panellists will provide brief academic interventions before opening a floor for a general discussion: Katia Attuyer will touch on her study of ageing in place and urban regeneration, Rosie Day will rise a question regarding the environmental justice in relation to older adults, Irina Kuznetsova will focus on the experiences of older displaced people, while Tess Osborn will share her studies on older adult’s capability to be mobile for their well-being.

The round table is organised by the Cities, Regions and Mobility Research subtheme of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham.

The round table offers (but is not limited to) the following questions for the discussion. 

  • How could the built environment contribute to age-friendly cities?
  • How could urban regeneration policies and practices involve older adults’ perspectives?
  • How could intersectionality and diversity be better considered planning age-friendly cities?
  • What is a role of mobility in well-being of older adults and what are the prospects in creating enabling environment for mobility?


14.00 – 14.50
Rose Gilroy
Professor of Ageing Planning and Policy, Chair of Future Homes Alliance, Chair of Newcastle Age Friendly City, School of Architecture Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University

Living environments in later life: Where is the agency of older people? 

This presentation is an early exploration of some ongoing work that takes a housing lens to explore the role of agency in later life. As so many tranches of research have stated home is of critical importance throughout our life and with the shrinking of life worlds in later life stages, home may become the main arena for everyday life. Researchers who have considered the baby boomer cohort have asserted that one of the major characteristics is the demand for agency- to make choices and to have voice in shaping the aspects, including the places, of their life.      

Since the development of the age-friendly movement by World Health Organization in 2007, housing has been one of the most significant issues that local groups have tackled in their journey towards becoming and “age friendly city or community (AFCC)”. However, to what extent have older voices influenced such initiatives. The hypothesis is that AFCC offers a potential platform or interface between visions of “active ageing” and experiences and representations of ageing and housing. The focus of this paper is on the power of older voices in such deliberations. How far are they taking part in new housing projects on housing within AFCC? Are they active stakeholders, even leaders or silent followers? Are their voices inputted directly or are they filtered. We might consider that for older voices to be heard there needs to be not only local opportunities through AFCC, but also new processes from historically committed stakeholders.

If you have any questions regarding the mini-forum, please e-mail Dr Irina Kuznetsova.