Global Challenges Academy

Staff Profile

Professor Simin Davoudi

Professor of Environment & Planning, Director of GURU


Simin Davoudi is Professor of Environment and Planning, Director of Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) at the School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape and co-Director of Newcastle University Centre for Researching Cities. 

I am a social scientist with expertise in spatial planning and a background in architecture. 

What binds together my thirty years of research and scholarship is an interest in governance processes and the intersections between power, knowledge, justice and democracy.  I have studied these in relation to: cities, spatial planning, environmental policies, climate change practices, resilience, spatial imaginaries and civil societies.        

I am also curious about how certain concepts creep into our everyday discourse. Feeding this curiosity has motivated me to unpack concepts such as: polycentricity, evidence-based policy, city-region, space and place, environment and nature, resilience, knowledge and knowing, imagination and imaginary, and civil society.  I am interested to know about their etymology, genealogy and contested meanings, and have investigated how they are used, co-opted and appropriated in different contexts and by different ideologies.

I have led / been involved in 34 research projects (of a total value of about £20 million) funded by the UK Research Councils (UKRI, EPSRC, ESRC), European Commission (FP5, FP6, FP7), United Nations (UN-HABITAT), UK Government Departments (HMCLG, DEFRA) and local authorities.

Learned societies' fellowships:

  • Past President of the Association of the European Schools of Planning (AESOP) 
  • Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (FRTPI)
  • Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) 

Visiting professorships:

  • School of Business Management, Tampere University (2017)
  • Centre for Urban Research, RMIT (2015)
  • Global Forum for Urban and Regional Resilience, Virginia Tech (2015)
  • BTH Swedish School of Planning (2011-2013)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Visiting Professor, Department of Human Geography, University of Nijmegen (2010)
  • Wibaut Visiting Professor, Amsterdam Institute for Metropolitan and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam  (2007) 

Current and previous advisory roles / research assessment roles:

  • ESRC Strategic Advisory Network
  • DEFRA Social Science Expert Group 
  • UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships Panel College
  • International Advisory Committee, the Netherlands' Urbanising Deltas of the World Research Prog. 
  • Advisory Board, Urban Academy, City of Helsinki and Universities of Helsinki and Aalto 
  • Chair of the NordForsk's (Nordic Research Councils) Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities Panel 
  • Co-chair of International Advisory Committee, Sino-Dutch Urbanisation and Demographic Change research programme 
  • Chair of FCT's (Portugal's Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia) Social and Economic Geography Panel      
  • Leader/coordinator of the Office of Deputy Prime Minister’s Planning Research Network
  • DEFRA-DECC Social Science Expert Panel 
  • DCLG Expert Panel on Housing Markets and Planning Analysis
  • Shadow Minister's Planning Commission's Academic Panel 
  • DG Regional Policy expert group on territorial cohesion
  • DG Regional Policy, Senior Advisor and jury Member for RegioStars Awards 
  • DG Environment expert group on thematic strategy for sustainable urban management  
  • Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) Climate Working Group 3 on societal transformation 
  • Advisory Board of the Irish Social Sciences Platform
  • Departmental Advisory Council, University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Architecture
  • RTPI Judging Panel for Planning Excellence Awards
  • Advisory Group for the UK ESPON Contact Point
  • Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) Sub-Panel 16 (Architecture, Built Environment and Planning)
  • ESRC Grant Assessment Panel C 
  • Vice Chair of the Assessment Panel for the ESRC Seminars Competitions 
  • Chair of Research Assessment Panel for the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology   

Until 2021, I was co-editor of the Journal of Environmental Planning & Management. I am also a founding member of the editorial team of 21st Century Society (Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences) and member of the editorial boards of 9 other international, peer-reviewed journals and Springer's Urban Book Series.  

I have more than 200 academic publications. Some of these are translated into Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish and Persian and disseminated through numerous keynote and invited speeches around the world.


Hope Under Neoliberal Austerity (2021, Policy Press), The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning (2019), The Resilience Machine (2018, Routledge), Justice and Fairness in the City (2016, Policy Press), Reconsidering Localism (2015, Routledge), Town and Country Planning in the UK (2015, Routledge), Climate Change and Sustainable Cities (2013, Routledge), Conceptions of Space and Place in Strategic Spatial Planning (2009, Routledge), Planning for Climate Change (2009, Earthscan), Planning for a Sustainable Future (2001, Spon),Planning, Governance and Spatial Strategy in Britain (2000, Macmillan), Managing Cities, The New Urban Context (1995, Wiley), Rebuilding the City (1992, Spon).

Professional history 

2006–date: Professor of Environment and Planning, Director of GURU (2016-2021) School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Co-Director of IRES (2006-2010), Theme Coordinator, NIReS (2010-2014), Associate Director, IfS (2014-2019), Co-Director of NU Centre for Researching Cities (2020-) University of Newcastle

2000-2006: Professor of Planning and Environment, Director of the Centre for Urban Development and Environmental Management (CUDEM), Leeds Metropolitan University, School of Built Environment

1996 -2000: Lecturer in Planning, Director of Undergraduate Planning Programme, University College London, Bartlett School of Planning

1993-1996: Planning Officer, Northumberland County Council (part-time)

1989-1996: Research Associate, Newcastle University, Department of Town and Country Planning (1989-93: full-time, 1993-96: part-time)

1988-1989: Planning Consultant, Tyne and Wear Development Corporation

1984-1986: Architect-Planner, Ardam Consulting Engineers

1982-1984: Architect-Planner, Akhir Consulting Engineers



Externally funded research projects

2019- 2021 (CoI) Smart Urban Resilience, ESRC-CONACYT (APL share £129000) led by Durham University

2019-2021 (CoI) UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) phase 4, EPSRC (APL share c.£19000) led by UCL  

2018 - 2019 (PI) People and Place Strategy, RTPI (APL share, c.£5000) led by pba consultancy

2016 - 2017 (PI) Locate (Territories and Low Carbon Economies), EU ESPON (APL share: c.€125,000) led by Austrian Institute for Regional Studies and Spatial Planning (OIR)

2016 – 2019 (PI) BeMiNE (Beyond MALPE-coordination: integrative envisioning), Academy of Finland (APL share: c. €98000) led by Aalto University

2017-2018 Social Renewal in the North East (PI) Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal (£10,000)

2015 - 2016, ESRC Seminar, Ways of Knowing & Neighbourhood Planning (CoI) ESRC, (total £30,000)

2011-2015 (PI) ARCH (Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons), EU Framework Programme (FP7) (APL share: c. €300,000) led by Norwegian Geotechnical Institute

2011-2013, (PI) Territorial Governance, ESPON (c. € 700,000, APL share, €120,000) led by Nordregio

2012-2013, Global SECURE Sustainable Energy through China-UK Research Engagement, EPSRC, CoI, (total project value: £500,000; APL share c. £40,000) in collaboration with Peking and Wuhan Universities in China

2011- 2012 (CoI) Bridging the Gap, Retrofitting Sustainability, EPSRC (£47,500 shared with other NIReS theme leaders)

2009-2011 (PI) SUME (Sustainable Urban Metabolism for Europe), EU FP7 (c. €3,000,000, APL share: c. €451,720)

2009-2011 (PI) Territorial Impact of Climate Change, ESPON, core partner (c. € 1,000,000, APL share, €100,000) led by Technical University of Dortmund 

2009-2011 (CoI) ARCADIA Adaptation and Resilience in Cities: Analysis and Decision-making using Integrated Assessment, EPSRC, led by J. Hall, Newcastle University, (c. £1,000,000, APL share: £133,915)

2008 (PI) United Nation Global Report on Human Settlement 2009, Chapter 4: The Institutional and Regulatory Framework for Planning, funded by the UN Habitat, (c. $16500)

2007-08 (PI) Supporting the Development of a Social Science Strategy for joint DEFRA / Environment Agency Research Programme on Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management, funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), led by Collingwood Environment

2003-06 (PI) Leading Planning Research Network, funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minster (£90,700)

2005 (PI) Spatial Vision Synthesis Report, EU Interreg IIIB North West Europe, €40,700,

2004-06 (PI) Spatial Scenarios and Orientations in Relation to the ESDP and Cohesion Policy, fESPON, led by Université Libre de Bruxelles (€1,500,000, CUDEM share: €145,000 )

2001-04 (PI) Regionalisation and the New Politics of Waste, ESRC, (£121,000)  

2004-06 (PI) Governance of Territorial and Urban Policies from EU to Local Level, ESPON, led by University of Valencia (c.€400,000, CUDEM share: €37000)

2004-06 (PI) Spatial implication so the Lisbon-Gothenburg Agenda, fESPON, led by University of Rome (c. €450,000, CUDEM share: €55000)

2004-06 (PI) Geoland: The Use of Earth Observation (Remote Sensing) Data for Spatial Analysis, EU FP6 Integrated Project(c. €10,000,000, CUDEM share: €102000)

2002-04 (PI) Urban-rural relationships in Europe,  ESPON, led by Helsinki University of Technology (€450,000, CUDEM share: €45,000)

2002-04 (PI) Role of cities as nodes of polycentric development, ESPON, led by the Nordic Centre for Spatial Planning (NORDREGIO), (€450,000, CUDEM share: €45,000)

1998-00 (CoI) SPESP: Study Programme on European Spatial Planning, funded jointly by the EU DGXVI and DETR, led by Newcastle Univ (UCL share c.£20,000).

1998-01 (PI) BEQUEST: Building Environmental Quality Evaluation for Sustainability trough Time, EU DGXII concerted Action, led by Salford University (c. UCL share €9,000).

1995-97 (CoI) Development Plans and the Regulatory Forms of the Planning System, ESRC, Newcastle Univ. (c. £90,000)

1996-97 (CoI) Medium-sized Cities and Environmental and Socio-Economic Developments in the Regions of the EU, European Foundation for Improvement of Living and Working Conditions  

2000-01 (CoI) ESPRIN Continuation and the development of ESPRID database, DETR, led by Newcastle University

2000 -01 (CoI) Study in European Spatial Planning in support of a new MSc Programme in Bartlett Schools of Planning, UCL, DETR (c.£20,000)

2001 (PI) Appraisal of Objective 2 Integrated Development Plans for the Yorkshire and Humber Region, funded by GOYH, led by MTL and EKOS consultancies 

1992-95 (RA) Monitoring and Evaluation of the City Challenge Initiative in North Tyneside, funded by the North Tyneside City Challenge Company, Newcastle University

1991-92  (RA) Monitoring and Evaluation of the Newcastle City Challenge Initiatives, funded jointly by the City Action Team (DoE), Newcastle Uni

1989-1990 (PI) Availability of Flexible Training Provision within Employment Training, commissioned by the Tyneside Training and Enterprise Council, principal investigator, Newcastle Uni.

1989-90 (RA) Urban Regeneration, the Development Process, and the Urban Fabric, funded by the Newcastle University Research Committee



Simin has thought at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in areas related to: the UK planning system, European spatial planning, UK urban policy and regeneration, environmental planning particularly waste management, climate change and resilience, city-region and polycentric urban development, urban-rural relationship, territorial cohesion, territorial governance, futures and scenario buildings.