Conceptualizing the Urban Commons
How have urban commons evolved over time, and in what social-ecological contexts?
What is the role of urban commons in an era of urban automation, robotics, and smart cities?
How do social movements emerge within an urban commons?
What is the range of approaches that may be used to study urban commons?
Thinking ecologically about the urban commons
How are urban and peri-urban commons perceived, appropriated, and governed across the gender divide?


May 6 - 8, 2021






January 2, 2021

March 27, 2021

April 4, 2021

April 27, 2021

Add to Calendar 05/06/2021 08:00 AM 05/08/2021 05:00 PM America/Phoenix Urban Commons 2021 Virtual Conference Online, Worldwide


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Welcome to the

IASC 2021 Urban Commons Virtual Conference

Aim & Scope

We are pleased to announce our call for individual presentations, special sessions, methods workshops, and webinar panel discussions. This conference aims to bring together scholars and practitioners on the urban commons. We will cover topics such as, conceptualizing the urban commons, new forms and trends in urban communing, interdisciplinary methods to study the urban commons, urban commons and the rights to the city, future of urban commons, and much more.


Themes/questions to be covered

  • In an era of rapid urbanization and changing land use patterns, how are commons imagined and reimagined?  What forms do they take, and are there newer forms of urban commons that are emerging?
  • What roles do such spaces play in supporting urban and peri-urban lifestyles?  
  • How does the conceptualization of urban commons differ from the more widely studied case of rural commons?
  • How have urban commons evolved over time, and in what social-ecological contexts? 
  • What can we learn from these stories of the past that may be of relevance in governing the continuously transitioning urban and peri-urban commons of the present day?
  • Given the massive push today towards urban automation, robotics, and smart cities, what role do traditional and new urban commons play in such spaces? 
  • What role do these technologies play in determining social ecological relationships around urban and peri-urban commons? 
  • How do social movements emerge within an urban commons?
  • Where are social movements most efficient while attempting to influence urban commons governance?
  • How do social movements work to protect and improve urban commons?
  • Under what conditions are social protest and social movements prevented or precluded from occurring?
  • What is the range of approaches that may be used to study urban commons? 
  • How do they cut across disciplinary, epistemological, and methodological challenges to provide answers to the governance challenges we face today? 
  • Is there opportunity to standardize how we study case studies around urban commons to generate mid-range theories?
  • How can we place nature and nature based solutions at the forefront of approaches to governing and managing urban commons?
  • Are there successful examples of such ecologically prioritized engagement with urban commons – how have these functioned and what challenges have they faced? 
  • How are urban and peri-urban commons perceived, appropriated, and governed across the gender divide? 
  • What are the differential challenges that are encountered around urban commons on account of gendered gaps within society? 
  • What implications do they pose for evolving sustainable and equitable strategies towards urban common pool resource governance? 
  • What are the lessons emerging about urban commons in terms of how they are appropriated, managed and governed across cities of the global south and global north? 
  • What are the commonalities, and how they differ across the north-south divide? 
  • What implications do these commonalities and differences pose towards the way we understand global urban commons? 

Rapid urbanization has often taken place at the expense of rural resources and the communities in which these resources are embedded.  Urban development is often premised solely on generating economic returns, and is considered to be at loggerheads with the vibrancy of rural areas.  Rural ecological services, however, are important to sustainable cities; perhaps more importantly, the cultural heritage and social capital rooted in rural communities are a coherent part of a city’s identity.  How to manage and revitalize rural resources amid urbanization so as to attain a sustainable rural-urban interface is a major challenge for many big cities, particularly those in Asia.  To what extent a commoning approach can help manage and revitalize rural resources?  What are the opportunities and challenges for practicing commoning in the rural-urban interface?   

Types of


We welcome different kinds of contributions:

An individual presentation is a pre-recorded 10 minute video. Participants asynchronously interact with the presenter on the presentation in the comment section.

A session consists of at least four 10-minute video presentations and has their designated space on the conference website.

The focus of a webinar is debate. Panelists may make short statements after which there is a moderated discussion during which questions from the audience are addressed. The duration of the webinar is 1 hour.

A methods workshop provides training on a specific approach for collecting or analyzing data relevant to the study of urban commons. Workshops typically last between 2 and 4 hours.


Online Conference

No hassle, costs, or carbon emissions from traveling. Attend the entire conference safely from home.


Three Days

Three days packed with prerecorded sessions and live events.


Meetup and Network

Interact with your peers during networking events.

Explore Our

Methods Workshops

Currently, these are the available Methods Workshops during the conference.

In this workshop, we aim to introduce participants to the basics of mapping with historical imagery and Google Earth Maps using the open-source GIS platform called QGIS.
Positioning our scholarship within broader debates is essential for us to make an original contribution to knowledge. This session is intended to provide an overview of different methods to systematize and organize scholarly works to develop a coherent and cohesive literature review.


Important Dates

March 27, 2021

Deadline for abstract submission

March 27, 2021
April 4, 2021

Notification of acceptance/rejection

April 4, 2021
April 27, 2021

Deadline for pre-recorded video submission

April 27, 2021
May 6 - 8, 2021

Event dates

May 6 - 8, 2021



This virtual conference is accessible for small fees to cover the costs of the implementation of the meetings. All presenters will have to be or become IASC members. IASC members pay 10 dollars to attend the virtual conference live. All conference material will be available to IASC members after the conference. If you are not an IASC member, you can easily register here. Non-IASC members can attend the conference for a fee of 50 dollars. Dependent on sponsoring, waivers are available for early-career scholars and practitioners from the global south.

IASC Members
$ 10
$ 50

Meet The

Steering Committee

Harini Nagendra

Professor of Sustainability, Azim Premji University, Bangalore, India

Hita Unnikrishnan

Member of the Early Career Network, Post-doctoral researcher, University of Sheffield, UK

Raul Pacheco-Vega

Assistant Professor, Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching, CIDE (Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, CIDE, AC), Mexico

Sergio Villamayor-Tomás

Ramón y Cajal Research Fellow, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB), Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain

Rimjhim M. Aggarwal

Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, USA

Wai-Fung (Danny) Lam

Director of the Center for Civil Society and Governance, University of Hong Kong

Don’t hesitate to

Contact us

For questions about this conference please send an email to Rimjhim Aggarwal at (Content) or Marco Janssen at (Logistics).


Event Sponsors

Become a


We are seeking sponsors to cover the costs of organizing the conference and fund IASC memberships for students and colleagues in the global south. We consider the following level of Sponsorships:

Platinum Sponsor: $5,000

Gold Sponsor: $2,000

Silver Sponsor: $1,000

Bronze sponsor: $120, which covers a membership for one participant for four years.

Platinum, Gold, and Silver sponsors will have their logo on the conference website, the size depending on the level of Sponsorship. If you have inquiries about sponsorships, please contact