We are pleased to announce the winners of our Early Career research grant scheme and we are looking forward to working with you.

I-Chun Catherine Chang, Macalester College, USA – Follow the Money: The Financing and Financialization of Sustainable Urban Projects in China

The recent two decades have witnessed a surge of urban sustainable projects in the global South. Under the guidance of relational geography and “Southern” urbanism, following the movement of planning ideas and policies has been the primary method scholars use to study these evolving urbanism models. This approach, however, largely overlooks the increasing importance of the profit-driven and technology-oriented urban sustainability industry. Nor does it offer insight into the indispensable role of financial arrangements in facilitating and shaping sustainable urbanism models. To address these shortcomings in the endeavor to understand sustainable urbanism, I propose to develop a new research approach that centers on tracing financial and economic interests. Adopting this new approach, this project aims to analyze the financial arrangements underlying Chinese sustainable urban projects, and focuses on two major Sino-Singaporean sustainable urban projects as relational-comparative case studies. This approach helps understand the influence of project funders, the allocation of critical resources, the workings of the urban sustainability industry, and the competition between sustainable urbanism models.

Iris Wanzenböck, Utrecht University, Netherlands – Knowledge network dynamics in the presence of shocks: A network-based approach to regional resilience

My project aims at understanding how regional knowledge networks can stimulate regional economic resilience. This ambition is motivated by theories considering knowledge networks crucial for regions to gain, after a crisis, impetus towards renewal. Yet, empirical evidence on the dynamics of knowledge networks, their changing compositions or role for regional resilience is scarce. My project aims at (i) providing new indicators to systematically explore network dynamics, (ii) developing a topology to characterize network profiles for European regions, (iii) assessing how these network compositions relate to regional resilience for the case of the economic crisis in 2008. In this project I will develop regional indicators to capture the micro-based dynamics in network compositions and make use of large-scale network data to classify European regions according to these indicators. On this basis, I will investigate whether network re-bundling can explain regional renewal processes after the crisis

Mia M. Bennett, University of Hong Kong – Effects of Indigenous Land Rights on Land Use Decisions

Responding to calls within Indigenous communities to more closely examine land claims processes, this project aims to understand whether land tenure in Indigenous communities leads to attitudes and policies favoring development or conservation. I will employ a mixed-methods approach combining globally-scaled satellite night-light imagery and fieldwork in two sites: Alaska, USA, which has a strong Indigenous land tenure regime, and Sarawak, Malaysia, which has a comparably weak one. While a significant amount of research has examined the processes driving land claims, it is not well understood how development proceeds once land claims are won. Furthermore, research regarding Indigenous peoples is often highly localized rather than comparative. Instead, through global analysis and comparison of case studies in North America and Asia, this research will broaden understandings of the relationship between land tenure, development, and conservation at a range of scales. Although Indigenous peoples are often imagined as stewards of the environment, this research asks whether the securing of Indigenous land tenure may actually lead to greater support for industrial development. As Indigenous peoples are gaining greater land rights worldwide, it is critical to understand the possible consequences of this shift in tenure for local livelihoods, the environment, and industry.


The RSA Early Career Grant is provided to support a discrete piece of regional studies and/or regional science research and is open to single applicants in their early career. The value of the grant is up to £10,000 (c. $12,700; c. €11,200). Applicants must be based within an HEI and a current, early career member of the Regional Studies Association. All applicants are required to set out their dissemination plans, not only through academic networks but also to communities of policy and practice. The full Terms and Conditions governing the grant are available in the EC Handbook.

Please send your Expression of Interest application and queries to ecgrant@regionalstudies.org . Forthcoming deadline: 28th May 2019