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?
Previous slide
Next slide


May 6 - 8, 2021





For IASC Members only

March 27, 2021

April 4, 2021

April 27, 2021


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 available workshops

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 Organizers


Rimjhim M. Aggarwal

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

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

Associate Professor at Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) Mexico

Sergio Villamayor-Tomás

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

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

Live Events


All times are in Arizona time, which is UTC -7. Last program update 4/27/2021.

1:30 1:30 - 5:30 am
Workshop Mapping Historical Urban Commons: Concept note

Instructors: Enakshi Bhar, Hita Unnikrishnan, and Harini Nagendra

Learn More...


5:00 5:00 - 6:00 am
Panel 2 - Commoning in the urban-rural interface

Danny Lam moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Matteo Roggero, Arvind Lakshmisha, Leila Kebir, Daniel Elkin, and Vishal Narain.

5:00 - 6:00 am
Networking Time

Meet with other participants on our space.

5:30 5:30 - 6:00 am
6:00 6:00 - 7:30 am
Opening Session - LabGov and the "Praxis" of the Urban Commons

Speakers: Sheila R. Foster, Elena De Nictolis, Joachim Meerkerk, and Sofia Croso Mazzuco

6:00 - 7:00 am
Panel 3 - Conceptualizing the commons (Part 1)

Hita Unnikrishnan moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Shruti Ragavan, Shreya Karmakar, Eduardo Araral, Anthony Li, Lalitha Kamath, and Deniz Çetin.

6:00 - 7:00 am
Webinar Panel 2 - Multiple-tiers governance and commons in Amsterdam

Henrik Laats & Rembrandt Zegers

7:00 7:00 - 8:00 am
Panel 4 - Conceptualizing the commons (Part 2)

Harini Nagendra moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Léa Canevet, Chiara Salati, Amy Poteete, Leila Kebir, Adam Polko, and Sergio Villamayor-Tomás.

7:00 - 8:00 am
Panel 6 - Interdisciplinary methods to study the urban commons

Raul Pacheco-Vega moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Safa Fanaian, Maitrayee Mullick, Adam Wiechman, Javanshir Fouladvand, and Francesco Palmia,

7:30 7:30 - 8:00 am
Coffee break in

Meet with other participants on our space.

8:00 8:00 - 9:00 am
Panel 1 - Urban commons & social movements

Sergio Villamayor-Tomás moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Dayla Hazar Kalonya, Julia Moretti, and Charalampos Tsavdaroglou.

8:00 - 9:00 am
Networking Time

Meet with other participants on our space.

8:00 - 9:00 am
Special Session 6 - Architectural Methods to Study the Urban Commons

Tom Avermaete moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Irina Davidovici, Nicole de Lalouviere, and Hans Teerds.

9:00 9:00 - 10:00 am
Webinar Panel 1 - The commons as an institutional system to implement a just transition, at a global and local scale

Moderators: Mona Menadin & Francesco Palmia
Panelists: Gaël Giraud, Elena De Nictolis, and Mark Swilling

9:00 - 10:00 am
Panel 5 - Urban Commons in the Global South & North: Comparisons and Interdependencies

Rimjhim Aggarwal moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Noëlle Boucquey, Dalya Hazar Kalonya, Leticia Costa de Oliveira Santos, Mirna Linhares, and Mirtha Lorena del Castillo

9:00 - 10:00 am
10:00 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
10:00 - 11:00 am
Special Session 3 - Commoning concepts: Justice, temporality, compactness and urban governance

Siddharth Sareen moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Devyn Remme, Håvard Haarstad, and Katinka Wågsæther.

10:00 - 11:00 am
Webinar Panel 3 - How Inequalities Make and Remake Urban Spaces?

Moderator: Praneeta Mudaliar
Panelists:Prakash Kashwan & Linda Méndez-Barrientos

11:00 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Workshop Writing for Success: Conducting Scholarly Literature Reviews for Research in English on Urban Contexts, Cities and Regions

Instructor: Raul Pacheco-Vega

Learn More...


13:00 1:00 - 5:00 pm
17:00 5:00 - 5:30 pm
Closing Session: Reflections on the future of urban commons

Participants: Rimjhim Aggarwal, Danny Lam, Raul Pacheco-Vega
We will announce the Best Student Presentation winner.

18:00 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Special Session 1 - Transgressing Neo-liberal Value and Centralizing Power: Hong Kong Commons in Practice

Ngai Pun moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Chun Man Tse, Yat Ming Pong, Janis Fan, Kelly Ka Ying Lau, Mei Lin Wu, and Emma Man

19:00 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Special Session 2 - Rural-urban interface with a focus on revitalization

Yahua Wang moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Sicheng Chen, Huirong Chen, Jia Guo, and Rongyu Wang

7:00 - 8:00 pm
Special Session 4 - How Universities as Urban Public Goods Revitalize Urban Commons--Some Cases in Taiwan

Ching-Ping Tang moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Shyh-Huei Hwang, Ping-Lan Tu, and Ying-Feng Chen.

20:00 8:00 - 8:30 pm
8:00 - 9:00 pm
Special Session 5 - Planning, Politics, People and Pace in Urban India

Mansee Bal Bhargava moderates discussion with speakers of pre-recorded talks Sanjaliwala Megha, Surabhi Mehrotra, Anubandh Hambarde, and Parampreet Kaur.

20:30 8:30 pm - 12:30 am
Workshop Mapping Historical Urban Commons: Concept note

Instructors: Enakshi Bhar, Hita Unnikrishnan, and Harini Nagendra

Learn More...



Interact Via


When the conference content becomes available, we will provide a link to join the conference’s Slack workspace. Joining will allow you to communicate directly with other conference participants, coordinate meetups, share information, etc.

Interact with other participants in our

Meeting Room

During the conference, you will be able to mingle with other participants in our Wonder Room (from The video below gives a simple introduction on how to use the platform. Once you log into the conference website you’ll find information about the location of the Wonder Room.

Listen and COntribute to our

Spotify playlist

We are creating a conference theme-based Spotify playlist available to all participants. During the conference, you will be able to add songs to the list.

Our recommendations

Tips and Tricks for the conference

You can contact us at for the following issues

“I lost my conference key”
“I need a certificate of conference participation

How to get the most out of the IASC 2021 Urban Commons Virtual Conference

Welcome to IASC 2021 Urban Commons Virtual Conference! We are excited to have you on board! Whether this is your first time attending a virtual conference, or if this is one of many that you have experienced, we would like to give you some tips to increase your focus and make the most of your time during this event.

Block off your calendar

When we attend an in-person conference, part of what makes it special is being away from home, office, and our usual daily routine. We suggest that you do the same for this virtual conference. Let your employers, students, colleagues, and family know that you are immersing yourself in this 3-day conference. We are offering real-time panel discussions and networking events. Get the real-time events that you want to attend onto your calendar first. Then schedule time for yourself to enjoy the pre-recorded presentations.

Using Slack

During this conference, we will be communicating in real-time through a Slack workspace with a variety of Slack channels. If you are not familiar with Slack, check out this tutorial.

Interact with other participants

Encourage friends and colleagues to attend the conference with you. Utilize the comment sections on the pre-recorded presentations to ask questions and create dialogues about various points of view. Schedule 1-on-1 virtual meet-ups with people you meet during our various events. Throughout the conference, a virtual meeting place will be available for you to interact with other attendees at any time. We will be using the platform as discussed in “Meet Other Participants”.

Let this event have a lasting impact

After the conference, the presentations will still be available to you. Live events will be recorded and posted for you to watch again. Stay connected to the participants you met while networking. If you are not an IASC member, consider joining and participating in future events.

Create a gravatar for your comments

We strongly recommend that you create a gravatar so that your picture is displayed next to your comments. 

1.  Visit the Gravatar website to sign up. It’s located at

2.  Click on the “Create Your Own Gravatar” button.

3.  Sign up for Gravatar with a account. Or click Already have a account? to sign in. 

4.  Click on the link in the confirmation email. Check your spam folder if you don’t see an email from

5.  Go back to Gravatar and login if necessary.

6.  Click the “Add a new image” button.

7.  Click the “Upload new” button.

8.  Click “Choose File” and pick a profile picture from your computer. Then click “Next”.

9.  Crop your image by moving the box that is overlaid on the image you choose. Then click on “Crop Image” below.

10.  Choose an image rating that reflects the content of your avatar. Then click the “Set Rating” button below.

Be aware that the use of an image that is X-rated will automatically prevent you from using it on a number of websites.

11.  Start using it. When you create accounts on other websites with the same email address and that site uses Gravatar, your profile image should automatically be set to your currently selected profile picture from your Gravatar account. If you change your Gravatar image for your email account in Gravatar, it should update your profile picture on other sites automatically.