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Centre for Research in Sociourbanism (CRSU)

The research carried out in the Department of Urban Planning is held at the Centre for the Study of Sociourbanismo. This centre is in process of integration in the Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Education & Development(CeiED) – Urbanism research line.

In this sense it was submitted in December 2013 at FCT National Funding Agency for Science and Technology an application (n 4114) for evaluation of new Research Units.

Presentation & Strategic Research Plan

1. Introduction

Establishing of the new Centre for Research in Sociourbanism (CRSU)within the Department of Urbanism of the Lusófona University requires the setting up of a structure, scientific and operational, to provide guidance and bring added value to theory and training in urbanism science.

The here outlined Strategic Research Plan, the first for the CRSU, evince both the research needs and the possibilities of the Centre to reach the goals to be set, being aware that research drives innovation and development, enhance training skills and provide expertise for providing services to the community.

2. Vision Statement

Enable the CRSU to be a place where the reflection of theories and practices in Urbanism Science, in their broad senses, take place and make possible the CRSU to act as a generator of knowledge and of tools and solutions tailored to the situation in Portugal and the lusophone countries.

The Centre, the Department of Urbanism, the staff and learners at all levels will participate routinely in strategically conceived and designed research and scholarly initiatives that contribute significantly to a sustainable management of territory, bringing benefits to the societies, increasing the economies viability and preservation of environment and ecosystems.

3. Goals and Strategic Priorities

Create an appropriate infrastructure to support research and education growth and foster a strong culture of research at the ULHT; positioning the CRSU within the Portuguese, European, Portuguese speaking counties and global context as a centre of excellence in research and innovation.

Develop a research policy to promote interdisciplinary approaches, to facilitate the collaborative identification of research needs and opportunities, and harmonise and develop synergies among different levels at the University, within the Department and with the community, in order to grow the number of projects in international and nationally recognised programmes,

Build a sustainable structure – easy manageable – to set up a sustained and long-lasting facilitation service in order to enhance the research participation, the development of proposals, to provide advices on project administration and management processes, and improve communication with researchers for disseminating of opportunities and funding information,

Build a structure reliable for actively participating in research projects, especially in sponsored international programmes.

Strengthen the academic quality and reputation, with support for the training and careers of researchers, in order to enable the CRSU to attract and retain excellent people who perform research in the areas of interest.

Increase the relationship and develop synergies between research and scholarship, in order to enhance the teaching excellence, ensuring the supply of a well-equipped, educated urban planners generation.

Further expand the community outreach and continue to engage in partnerships in order to improve the share our findings broadly as a public service, foster the transfer of knowledge into communities, enhancing their capacity building and enriching their quality of life.

Set up effective means of bringing together researchers from both developing and industrialised countries to solve problems of common interest.

Increase the enrolment and promote student success, grow and diversify the academic offers in order to improve higher educated students participation in research and practice, and the transfer of technology.

Develop and maintain space, equipments, and other resources necessary to support the enhancement of research.

4. Research Areas Framework

CRSU is committed to critical issues of particular relevance to the sustainability and public policy debate. To offers guiding principles and better coordinate the research efforts five* research areas are recognised which encompass the broadest range of issues the management of territory is faced with.

The research areas are:

  • Natural Environment and Urban Landscape
  • Built Environment, Infrastructures, Equipments and Transport
  • Applied Urbanism and Urban Design
  • Society, Governance and Land Use Management
  • Information Technology for Urbanism*

* The Information Technology for Urbanism is assumed as a contributory area during a first moment and is desire that will be a main area by involving more research and researchers in this specific and essential area as a tool for urbanism.

In the Chapter 0 are compiled the main topics for each of the four research areas. Although in the transversality and linkages within the areas, integrated approaches and the cross-cutting themes should obtain priority.

Policy to Increase Research and Scientific Productivity

The first goal of CRSU is to position ourselves in the research and academic community both national and international across the globe, as an excellence research centre. To achieve this is necessary to increase the institutional and staff capacity.

The capacity building is focused on creating and fostering a supportive environment for academic, research and community services.

This includes building policies towards (a) an efficient management structure and staff with adequate qualifications, (b) supportive structure for increasing research activities, (c) providing incentives for increasing scientific productivity and (d) fostering doctoral programmes and increasing student participation in research and academic activities.

These four equally important strategic goals were identified after careful deliberations based on current and future strengths of CRSU. These are:

5. Organisation Structure

In the multidisciplinary research themes the CRSU is committed together with the Department of Urbanism and the staff to build a sustainable framework to foster the research activities and scientific collaborations.

In order to improve the research performance and drive knowledge exchange and innovation it is necessary to build a rational coordination of tasks and duties oriented towards achieving common goals as well as continuity through time. The following is a description of the essential contents:

  • COA – Steering Committee – is an advisory board of independent experts
  • Provide scientific guidance and advice
  • Evaluate and monitor the CRSU performance
  • Support in the CRSU’s endeavours
  • Review existing research policies and procedures on a regular basis and propose modifications, as necessary
  • Provide input on demand.

Scientific Director

  • Provide the overall direction and management of the CRSU
  • Perform tasks which allow the CRSU to fulfil its mission and purpose
  • Provide scientific advisory and negotiate agreements for research
  • Act as a bridge between the organisation and the outside world
  • Represent the CRSU at conferences and official occasions
  • Ensure realistic goals are set for an organisation, and that these goals are met
  • Support the co-director to fulfil the tasks and duties

Executive Director

  • Support the director to fulfil the tasks and duties
  • Monitor the administrative and financial performance of CRSU
  • Ensure the strategic plan is in place and monitored
  • Coordinate the flow of information both internally and externally

Heads of the Four Research Areas

  • Coordinate the priority-setting processes for research topics
  • Monitor all activities and projects
  • Support the development of proposals and projects
  • Assists researchers and support of the responsible conduct of research
  • Set up work procedures and conduct research
  • Enhance the student’s experience extending their participation in research


  • Support the activities of the staff members
  • Keep record of research and scientific activities
  • Maintain databases and collate information about research activities
  • Keep the communication among the staff and as well as partners
  • Liaison with internal and external contacts

The research staff

The research staff will be divided on three main categories:

Full Researchers, the head of research teams, characterized by: Have a PhD on Urbanism or similar and correlated areas concerning the research areas and topics;At least 1 paper, book or chapter per year, preferentially with international peer review;Enrolled on research projects including preparation to submission or specific work to society on the urbanism issue;At least a dedication of 30% to the research centre;Strong CV on Urbanism area;Not included as full member on other centre.

Collaborative researchers, characterized by: Have a PhD on Urbanism or in similar and correlated areas concerning the research areas and topics; Interest to integrate research projects. Have Research activity on Urbanism (or in similar and correlated areas).

Assistant Researchers, characterized by (one of): Have university degree on Urbanism or in similar and correlated areas, in respect to the CRSU strategic research areas; Be student on Urbanism programmes (obligatory for Master and PhD on Urbanismo at ULHT).

Supportive Structure for Research

A major goal of CRSU is to establish a corporate programme that increases partnership opportunities, supports research, scholarship and creative activities.

A resulting goal is to make the CRSU a reliable partner this requires not only an efficient management structure and skilled staff but supportive structures for increasing the activities.

Key Strategies

Set priority in the developing of joint, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research proposals, and utilise the four strategic research themes to advance research.

Improve research in Information Technology for Urbanism strategic area as an essential tool to support planning.

Enhance capacity building, advance knowledge and skill in research coordination and accomplishment, lending mutual support at all stages of the research, e.g. research training workshops for preparation of proposals, approaches to develop and evaluate research outcomes.

Ensure the CRSU staff and researchers is educated in the standards for the design, conduct, reporting, and supervision of research.

Develop short term research projects aiming at enabling the CRSU to create a portfolio and especially to provide basic knowledge for the participation in international research consortia.

Establish in a long term special research fund for bridging grants and small projects aimed at preliminary data collection, library study, scholarly investigation trips, etc.

Increase the exchange of strategic Information, e.g. research calls, bids, conferences, meetings, missions, research results and funding for scholarships, e.g. email circular.

Increase funding especially external funding from European programmes, via e.g. increase the number of research proposals submitted.

Develop a public relations and communications campaign to inform potential research partners, scientific and academic spheres, and to take advantage of their ability to attract resources for financing projects.

Create supportive services for research proposals and increase the use of the central services provided by the University (International Relations Service).

Encourage the staff to participate in additional activities, apart from the cooperation as a research partner

Establish a regular meeting schedule, extend invitations to appropriate meeting participants, e.g. students.

Develop a database to ensure continuity and to enable measuring success and progress using standard criteria, such as, publication record, grants, reference citations, and career investigator awards.

6. Increasing Scientific Productivity

In order to make of the CRSU a place where knowledge of Urbanism Science is generated requires clearly a supportive environment to advance such knowledge, tailored to different addressees.

This means besides creating profound know-how increase the institutional and staff capacity and the exploitation of new technologies and the application of research results.

Key Strategies

Utilise the four strategic research areas and their themes to advance disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary essays, briefings and publications.

Put in place mechanisms to stimulate and facilitate the publication of research results and students works, e.g. publications in the Department’s journal malha urbana.

Develop incentives for increasing publications and improving the quality of scientific output, e.g. list of peer reviewed journals, facilitate review or translation services for authors.

Encourage and enable the participation of staff and students in conferences, workshops and similar, to disseminate the CRSU and research results, provide financial support.

Facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices.

Enhance access to data and information, especially on research results and encourage information sharing, e.g. via new communication media (blog, facebook, etc).

Promote coordinated actions and synergy; facilitate coordination among research and academic staff, and partner’s organisations.

Encourage personnel exchange for training purposes and promote in-person and virtual collaborative opportunities.

Support the organisation of the Fórum Nacional Urbanismo e Autarquias

Promote networking and foster the scientific exchange via hosting an annual conference to present the results of CRSU (research and academic) as well as to invite potential partners.

7. Policy for Scholar Programmes and Student Participation in Research Activities

Being part of a University which offers three levels of degrees (undergraduate’s/bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees) opens up an excellent opportunity to combine and make use of synergies between research and academic fields.

Engaging scholarly activities in research and vice-versa can add exciting dimensions to the both activities, e.g. generating innovative solutions or new ways of looking at challenges. For students the engagement in research activities facilitates the development of a comprehensive and invaluable skill set.

The linkage will not only bear the ongoing transfer of knowledge but also provide insights in current methodologies, processes and the access to new and emerging technologies. The opportunities for students will be provided by activities including: teamwork, knowledge creation, critical thinking and testing, project management, proposal writing, reporting skills, public speaking and presenting, improvement in foreign languages, interpersonal skills, etc.

The kind of exchange activities and the time frame will be decided according to each research programme.

Key strategies

Foster the scientific and technical knowledge transfer between the academic and research communities, especially the forefront of knowledge of research projects.

Create of a strong research culture with benefits to the students and enhance the opportunities to participate in research activities, e.g. encouraging their participation scientific events, in workshops, meetings, etc.

Align the teaching and research to four research themes and ensure that the forefront of knowledge fully reflect the commitment to preparing students for the challenges of the 21st Century.

Foster the skills and learning experiences of the students, besides participating in diploma and degree programmes.

Each research area prepare annually a proposal for themes of interest for students works (according to the grades and provide support to fulfilment of these, e.g. for final thesis, master degree and PhD thesis.

Enhance student learning outcomes, e.g. organisation of workshops, summer schools, encouraging publications.

Provide around research performances support especially to doctoral and master students, Students colloquia as the annual Workshop Seminário de Investigação em Urbanism.

Create opportunities and encourage the networking activities of students (e.g. Erasmus, participation on international activities, etc.).

8. Policy for Quality Control

Being aware that only planning or theoretical application cannot be guarantee complete success, there is the need to implement a framework for monitoring and evaluation within the CRSU. This topic is in fact another landmark then it will support the consolidation and/or improvement of research activities and scholar’s programmes.

The first instance for monitoring and evaluation the performance of the CRSU is its directive board composed by the Director, Co-Director and the Heads of the Research Areas. As the Co-Director is in charge of monitoring the administrative and financial performance as well as ensuring the strategic plan is in place he/she will be responsible for this task – although all play an essential part in continually improve the services the CRSU delivers- internally and externally.

The CRSU welcomes and will follow the recommendations of the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee for Research and Training (Comissão de Avaliação e Acompanhamento para a Investigação e Formação em Urbanismo CAIFU) that integrates the Steering Committee (COA) of the Department – responsible for policy research and development, policy planning, policy supervision and evaluation.

Key strategies

Develop and implement an evaluation framework. At this stage of implementation of CRSU this should result in easy approach with a simple set of indicators (quantitative and qualitative).

Based on the monitoring approach and results obtained deliver contribute to research policy formation.

Provide contents and arguments for rethinking the CRSU’s approach.

Establish a regular meeting schedule of CRSU with the CAIFU and COA, provide them the necessary information.

Provide an annual evaluation and monitoring report.

9. Research Areas & Topics

This section presents objectives for each area and details the research topics their priorities. These topics will be developed within the lines of Theoretical and Conceptual Research (ITC), Operational Research (OR), Applied Research (IA), as well as the provision of Services for Community (CS).

To carry out its tasks the research areas will apply various methods and research techniques always tailored to the needs of each project. The four research areas and topics are:

A – Natural Environment and Urban Landscape – ANPU/ Ambiente Natural & Paisagem Urbana


The research group ANPU (Ambiente Natural & Paisagem Urbana) is concerned with the characteristics, patterns and structures of specific geographical area of human settlements (urban and rural) and their relationships with the biological and physical environment and interaction of these with the social system.

These are aspects related, both to individual and collective, to patterns of housing, mobility, health, education, culture and leisure – that affect the morphology of natural spaces, ecosystems and urban systems.

It encompasses the urban landscape which comprises the network of open spaces and natural resources embodied in and around our cities. This group aims at actions to preserve the natural environment and improve both the environmental conditions and the quality of life.

Among the issues can be mentioned for this research group the analysis of the transformation, adaptation of cities and regions, with emphasis on open spaces and ecosystem services, as well as strategies and tools for the management of urban spaces.

Research Topics

This research group is engaged in issues and topics related to the natural environment, landscape and rural development and the relationship of the nature with the built-environment, with a wide range of themes that reflect the challenges that settlements face today and may face in the future. They are:

Questions related to morphology, urban design and use of space:

  • Open spaces and the relationships with the built-environment
  • Patterns of land use, land recycling and urban/site rehabilitation
  • Green spaces, their users and uses.

Questions related to governance and public participation:

  • Urban and rural sustainability
  • Planning and management of landscape
  • Governance of urban environment
  • Participatory democracy and horizontal cooperation

Questions related to environment media and their protection:

  • Environment policies and integrated approaches
  • Protection of environment media (air, water, soil)
  • Contamination and pollution control
  • Adaption to climate change (resilience)
  • Maintenance and provision of green spaces and protected areas
  • Enhance and conserve biodiversity
  • Sustainable resource use and ecosystem services – especially carbon sequestration in green spaces
  • Prevention and promotion of public health and active life styles

B – Built Environment, Infrastructures, Equipments and Transport – ACIET / Ambiente Construído, Infraestruturas, Equipamentos & Transportes


The research group ACIET (Ambiente Construído, Infraestruturas, Equipamentos & Transportes) is concerned with the approach between the built environment, including support structures and equipments, and the needs of populations to achieve quality of life standards, i.e., the relationship between physical structures and their use by citizens.

Urbanism takes a very important role to improve conditions to live, in that way the needed support environment is a key factor to achieve successful capacities in the urban areas.

Mobility has a prominent role in this point, as one of the main factors associated to the modern cities, able to improve economy and the well fare of populations.

This group aims at actions to improve the efficiency of built environment (equipments & infrastructures), their planning and management and the necessary correlations with natural environment.

The research group will focuses their attention on physical structures and the social needs of territories to:

Address strategies and tools to be used by public bodies in the planning and management of their built environment

Undertake studies and analytic works to improve the knowledge of built environment impacts on society (economy and well fare);

The main objective is to achieve better urban spaces, environmentally balanced and usefully to citizens.

Research Topics

This research group is engaged in issues and topics related to the Built Environment, Infrastructures, Equipments and Transport and their efficiency to serve citizens accomplishing the natural environment requisites.

The main topics to be addressed are:

Questions related to planning of infrastructures and equipments

  • Infrastructures of service and the quality of space
  • Territorial shares of infrastructures and equipments
  • Infrastructures and sustainability issues
  • “Multi uses” equipments and the well fare of populations
  • Waste, water, energy and communication facilities and services to improve quality of urban space
  • Urban Design, infrastructures and equipments

Questions related to management and governance of infrastructures, equipments and associated services

  • The management of space and infrastructural issues
  • The share of equipment and infrastructures as a tool for development
  • Efficiency tools for waste, water, energy and communications facilities and services
  • The equipment as an improvement tool

Questions related to mobility and urban space

  • The “green mobility” and the improvement of urban quality
  • The management of public transport services
  • The mobility and accesses as an integrated factor for citizens
  • Urban design issues and mobility

C - Applied Urbanism and Urban Design- UADU / Urbanística Aplicada & Desenho Urbano


The research group UADU (Urbanística Aplicada & Desenho Urbano) sets its focus on issues related to urbanismand design, from theory to practice, questioning urban morphology as core subject for an urban planner.

Aware that in Portugal the theory and practice of urban and regional planning results from the application of a diffuse and superficial conceptual framework, which should contribute to an increasing satisfactory living conditions in urban areas, this group focuses its activities on issues of theory, or theories, from training requirements to practical work, in understanding the needs of those who practise it, developing tools and/or procedures of analysis, planning and land management and the study of urban space as physical and social factor for urban design.

Research Topics

This research group aims at enhancing the development of appropriate tools for different situations within the national context, reflecting the practice of urbanism, both in Portugal and across the world, and theoretical underpinnings of different forms of acting on the territory, as well as analysis of needs of urbanists, decision makers and inhabitants.

The research themes are:

Questions related to urbanism theory, applied to Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking world

  • The methods and tools for the practice of urbanism(analysis, planning and land management) – tools needs assessment;
  • Urban design as defining the space, which includes spatial perception and techniques for qualifying the space,
  • Research methods and tools in urbanism,
  • The role and the training of urbanist and designer,
  • The definition of concepts and their relation to the practice;

Questions related to urbanism methods

  • Analysis of the urbanismpractice in Portugal and defining strategies for its improvement;
  • Monitoring and evaluation of urban spaces and planning practices;
  • The planning tools and methods for analysis, design and management.

Questions related to urban design

  • The analysis of morphology of cities;
  • The integration of the inhabitants in the planning practice (participation);
  • The design of urban space, concepts and methodologies.

Questions related to research methods in urban planning

  • Research methodologies for urban planning;
  • Support for training in urban planning.

D – Society, Governance and Land Use Management – SGAT / Sociedade, Governança &Administração do Território


The research group Society, Governance and Land Use Management (SGAT – Sociedade, Governança &Administração do Território) is concerned with the approach between the Society and the use of space in the perspective of governance and use management of territory, including the participatory decisions to improve urban quality.

It works in a transversal way between physical and social issues, including the necessary administrative tools (regulation) that could improve the way to manage and use with efficiency and sustainability the territory.

The territorial management is a very important tool to improve the use of space and to give conditions to citizens to achieve qualified life.

The search of tools and ways to assess, including the participation of citizens to improve the offer of spaces adapted to citizens needs and wishes, is important to ensure a better understanding of reality to promote a better territory.

This group aims at actions to improve the planning, management and assessment tools, including the participatory factors, to address more efficiency to territory respecting the needs and wishes of population and their relation with natural environment.

The research group will focuses their attention to develop tools that could improve governance and management of territory in a participatory and sustainable way.

The main objective is to achieve better urban spaces, where people understand how it works and feels integrated on a sustainable and useful territory.

Research Topics

This research group is engaged in issues and topics related to the management of territory, including assessment methods and technics, improving the governance and use of territpry. The main topics to be addressed are:

Questions related to Governance

  • Cities governance and administrative issues to improve urban quality
  • The administrative tools (regulations) and the practice of urbanism
  • The e-governance and the challenge for better urban spaces
  • Citizens participation and he governance of territory
  • Private sector & Institutions, ways to make good governance of public space

Questions related to Society and urban spaces

  • The demographic factors in cities, growth and shrink, and the challenges of urban development
  • Security and urban spaces
  • Economy and the development of territories
  • Society as a part of city, integration and development tools in urban spaces
  • Participatory tools
  • Cultural issues in the urban spaces

Questions related to assessment

  • The assessment as an improvement tool to efficiently management of territory
  • The quality of space assessment tools to improve quality of life
  • The assessment tools, including territorial comparison methods;
  • The monitoring method as a tool to efficient management – (adapting plans to realities on time)

Questions related to management

  • The natural, social and built environment and the management of space
  • From plan to action – tools for a better management
  • Interdisciplinary management of territories and development
  • Sustainable tools for management
  • Laws and the use of territory

As contributory, Information Technology for Urbanism (TIU – Tecnologias de Informação em Urbanismo) will be a transversal issue of research to improve the developed tools of each four strategic groups described before.

The lack of research, in Portugal, in this specific issue is an opportunity to evolute it thru the specific support to the research projects, concerning the need of develop tools that are useful to the practice of urbanism.

Our goal is to point the Information Technology for Urbanism as the fifth strategic research area in the future.

E- Education, Territory and Planning


This research line is focuses on the study of the different dimensions of knowledge and education, in their interaction with territoriality. In particular, is focuses on the issues of rural or urban contexts, and as expression of social dynamics where education in its multiple approaches is a structuring element.

Research Topics

Territorial dimension of knowledge and formal and informal training

Education Cities and access to knowledge and social empowerment

Culture, Education and citizenship in the urban context

Territory, social equipment, services and social inclusion