Call for Papers on "The Science of Space: New Roadmaps"

Since the early days of regional science – as a truly interdisciplinary approach to social science issues related to geographical space and locations (ranging from nations or territories to regions or settlements) – there has been an ongoing debate on the very nature of regions and cities. Are they administratively defined, are they based on spatial-functional homogeneities, are they characterised by historical or cultural determinants, or are they platforms for economic action and policy? And how are borders between regions or cities defined? This problem is clearly expressed in the seminal writings of Walter Isard (Location and the Space Economy, 1956) and August Lösch (The Economics of Location, 1954). Certain questions have always been prominent in this regard: what exactly is a region or city, and what is the nature of distance frictions between geographic entities? After more than half a century, several pressing problems still remain:

  1. Is space a passive geographic substratum that acts as a barrier or as a geographic platform or arena for human activities? (see e.g. Kourtit et al., 2016) Is there a ‘science of space’? Is the science of a region different from the science of a city? Are borders externally imposed or are they endogenously determined?
  2. Is space related to the socio-economic possibilities for use by mankind, and does it create permanent and new opportunities as an enabling resource for ‘homo sapiens’? (see e.g. Yuval Noah Harari, 2011) Is there a science of human behaviour in relation to geographical space and distance? Is the behaviour of humans in a broader regional context different from that in a microcosmic intra-urban context?
  3. Is space a limitation for human behaviour or does it open up new modes of living, e.g. through mobility and migration (‘homo mobilis’) (see e.g. Jacques Poot et al., 2013)? Does regional science offer a satisfactory foundation for understanding spatial interactions and dynamics, both conceptually and empirically? Is spatial mobility (e.g. migration) determined by the quality of the built environment (‘body’) or by the quality of the human and economic environment (‘soul’)?
  4. If space is a general ‘container’ of nations, regions, cities, settlements, rural areas and nature, is there a unifying conceptualisation of the spatial structures in our world (e.g. central place theory, topodynamic corridors)? (see e.g. Tellier, 2007) What are the building blocks of such a scientific architecture and which disciplines are involved? And how can the social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences be combined in one coherent framework? Further, what is the impact of connectivity networks on the functioning of space?
  5. Though humans are principally able to live everywhere in our urbanized world, de facto they tend to live in local neighbourhoods, in which direct social interaction and street-level communication are more important than the global function or position of a given locality. Is there a comprehensive analysis framework that could be used to map human behaviour in space from a microcosmic perspective? (see e.g. Bettencourt et al., 2016) What is the nature of a theory on localized human micro-behaviour, mental maps and spatial appreciation? What is the role of the new geography of happiness? And how does it relate to cities and human settlements?
  6. Space is not only subjected to human activities and group interventions, as well as external shocks, but is also influenced by policy choices and institutional forces. Is it possible to identify the contours of a theory on spatial policy that is distinctively different from general policy? (see e.g. Ratajczak et al., 2016) Or would this imply a merger of regional science and political science? And in particular, what is the role of public space in spatial policy, e.g. in cities?
  7. In urban geography and planning, the ‘new science of the city’ is increasingly becoming en vogue (Batty 2013; Hudec et al. 2017). This is mainly based on advanced data analytics and urban metrics (the city as a ‘data machine’). Is this also a new opportunity for regional science?

For all these questions, our goal is to gain new insights into the nature of the underlying scientific challenges, which could help pave the way for a novel research agenda on the very nature of (mega) cities, settlements or rural areas, and related policies. Especially the way we define, collect and analyse (multilevel and 3D) data on urbanity and rurality deserves critical attention in mapping out and understanding the ‘New Urban World’. This calls for new data-analytical roadmaps, e.g. in spatial data mining, spatial big data analysis, multi-level modelling, multifunctional multivariate statistics etc. And finally, there is much scope for new types of policy support systems, e.g. for i-city governance.

Authors are cordially invited to submit their papers to the Editor of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Regional Science (APJRS) no later than 1 December 2019. The submission website is:

All manuscripts will be reviewed using the APJRS standard procedure. Once a manuscript has been accepted, it will be promptly released online with a DOI, which means the submission might be published online earlier, even if the publication schedule of the printed version has already been finalised.

Please follow the Instructions for Authors of APJRS while preparing your manuscript. For the tracking of submissions, select the special feature titled "S.I. : The Science of Space" at the “Select Article Type” stage.

Special Issue Editors:
Soushi Suzuki, Professor, Hokkai-Gakuen University
Karima Kourtit, Researcher, Jheronimus Academy of Data Science
Peter Nijkamp, Emeritus Professor, VU University Amsterdam (Tinbergen Institute)