Date and location

  •   June 3, 2018 - June 6, 2018
  •   Universit√† della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland

Conference details

Session organisers: Ben Derudder (, Michael Hoyler (, John Harrison (, Evert Meijers ( and Xingjian Liu (

The ‘polycentric urban region’ (PUR) has become a key concept in regional studies, both as an analytical framework to capture empirical realities as well as part of normative visions and goals in regional development policies. In its most basic guise, the PUR notion applies to regions characterised by the presence of multiple, more-or-less proximate urban centres without pronounced hierarchical differentiation between those centres. Given the alleged increased conceptual, empirical and policy relevance of PURs, the Regional Studies Association (RSA) has decided to (co-)fund a research network dedicated to enhancing our understanding of the prevalence, significance, and future development of PURs. To officially launch of this research network, its coordinators will be organizing paper sessions at the 2018 RSA conference in Lugano. The purpose of these sessions is to develop a timely overview of the present state of PUR knowledge in the broadest possible sense, which will in turn inform the key themes that will be tackled in the remainder of the research network’s activities.

The starting point of the research network and the sessions alike is the observation that although the rapid growth in the size and scope of PUR research and policy-making has clearly invigorated this research field, it is in practice built on surprisingly limited comprehensive concepts and evidence. For example, the slightly different terminology used to address PURs points to a broad range of analytical differences across the literature. As very different methods, data, measurement frameworks, and interpretations are used as the evidential basis on which concepts and policies are built, there is a need for a more concerted regional studies research agenda. As an inclusive overview of the different perspectives on PURs is the logical first step towards a more concerted regional studies research agenda, we invite all researchers working on PUR-related questions to contribute to these sessions and the research network at large. 

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How to get there

Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano, Switzerland