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CEFISES Seminar: Urban Metabolism lab, « How can conceptual analysis inform decision-making on model selection? Modelling the urban metabolism in light of the concept of ‘agency' »

juin 14@14:00-16:00 CEST

Series: Urban Metabolism

Speakers: Nicola Bertoldi, Ehsan Ahmadian, Elisabetta Rosa, and Daniela Perrotti (UCLouvain, Urban Metabolism lab)


As part of the “AISt-nexus” project, this session presents work-in-progress research aiming to establish a model decision system for supporting support researchers, practitioners, and policymakers interested in studying metabolic dynamics at the urban level. This model decision system is informed by a conceptualization of how different kinds of stakeholders as agents shape and are shaped by such dynamics. Users can provide as input a specification of the agents and dynamics in which they are interested based on a characterization of those same agents, which is built into the system’s structure. The output they receive is a selection of models or possible combinations of models – such as material flow analysis (MFA), life-cycle analysis (LCA), etc. – that are best suited to represent those same agents and dynamics. The present session focuses on how the analysis of the concept of “agency” that underlies the decision system’s structure can inform the output of such a selection process.

To this aim, we will present how the system’s structure was established as a result of the cross-fertilization between two components: (1) a characterization of the concept of “agency” relative to urban metabolism studies through computational methods and critical analysis of urban metabolism literature (across urban, industrial, and social ecology) and foundational texts in social systems theory and systems ecology; (2) a literature-based characterization of urban metabolism models describing how different modelling methods engage with the concept of “agency” at various levels and according to indicators such as boundary-spanning across disciplines, specificity, and inclusiveness with respects to the kinds of agencies modeled and model’s depth of analysis. The articulation between (1) and (2) will be discussed to show how the decision system can bridge existing gaps between the conceptualization and modeling of stakeholders’ influence on metabolic dynamics, especially from a “stock-flow-practice nexus” perspective.

This work is supported by the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique – F.S.R.-FNRS, Belgium, under Grant(s) n° MIS-F.4536.22, Mandat d’Impulsion Scientifique / Incentive Grant for Scientific Research.


Date :
juin 14
Heure :
14:00-16:00 CEST


Nicola Bertoldi


Salle Ladrière
Place du Cardinal Mercier 14 (bâtiment Socrate, a.124)
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348 Belgium
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