The Call of the New: Unpacking Innovation, its Spatiality, its Benefits and its Costs

RSA North America Conference 2019, Montréal, Canada

Date and location

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Conference details

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Early Career plenary speaker application deadline 6th December 2018
Special Session proposal deadline 1st March 2019
Bursary application deadline 1st April 2019
Abstract submission deadline 16th April 2019

Innovation is seen as a way of responding to climate change, social inequalities, economic challenges, the provision of services and the building of infrastructure. Yet it can also be seen as the cause of many of the challenges that cities and regions now face: indeed, in its broadest sense innovation simply means change, and the consequences of many of the changes wrought over the last century and a half are now being understood.

Innovation has been enshrined as a pillar of economic agenda at all governmental scales. The government of Canada’s supercluster policy (2018) makes explicit that it sees innovation as linked to regional processes. The policy reflected the wider claim that cities and regions need to innovate yet these are vague claims in need of investigation.

This conference will provide the opportunity for urban and regional scholars to grapple with the complexities of innovation and change, qualifying the idea of innovation, questioning the institutions that organize and channel it, and exploring the actors, private, public and civil society, who instigate change and cope with its consequences. To what extent are innovative processes regionally embedded? Can radical innovation occur within the current institutional context? Who innovates? Who benefits? Is it possible, or useful, to think through the consequences of innovation? Is it always necessary or advisable to innovate? Can innovation lead to more inclusive forms of growth? How does innovation impact cities and regions – in terms of their governance, their economies, their infrastructure and their social cohesion? And, conversely, how do cities and regions, as polities, innovate, influence innovation, adapt to change, and channel its consequences? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in Montreal.

Key Conference Themes:

We welcome papers from all – academics, researchers, students and those working in policy and practice. The event is inclusive and offers networking opportunities for all. We welcome proposals for special sessions, themed workshops and innovative forms of networking and collaboration. To contribute contact Lesa Reynolds at:

Confernce Fees

Abstract Submission:
Please submit proposals for papers in the form of a 250-word abstract (text only) through the RSA conference portal. If you require confirmation of abstract acceptance to secure funding please contact Lesa at Abstract submission deadline is 16th April 2019. Proposals will be considered by the Conference Committee against the criteria of originality, interest, and subject balance.

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Conference organisers

Academic Organisers:

Richard Shearmur and Sébastien Breau, McGill University, Canada

RSA Conference Manager:

Lesa Reynolds –

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More information

How to get there

The Centre Mont-Royal, Montréal, Canada

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