My research focuses on innovative forms of urban governance&planning in the context of pressing environmental challenges and the digital revolution. I’m interested in how people and social institutions collaborate in whatever form and by whatever means to create more sustainable and just cities – and what pitfalls and consequences their collaborations entail. Social innovation, participatory processes for transition, and socially-emancipatory digital initiatives in urban contexts represent some of my principal research areas.
In my academic life, I am Assistant Professor in political-economic geography at the Excellence Department of Economic, Social, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (ESOMAS), University of Turin.
In the meanwhile, I am visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technologies and Society (IAS-STS) at TU Graz; I collaborate as visiting professor with the Institute of Management of the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa (Italy); and as a research fellow with the Centre for Sustainable Development – CDO @ Ghent University. Here from 2017 to 2019 I conducted an EU IF-ES Marie-Curie project titled “Crowdsourcing Urban Sustainability Governance. Exploring innovative governance models for addressing urban sustainability through ICT-people interaction” . This dealt with the emergence of new sustainability governance models characterized by digital social participation in the urban context. The aim of the project was to investigate whether and how crowdsourcing (an online, distributed problem-solving process for creative solutions development) is appropriate for tackling the mutable, multi-scalar and complex character of urban sustainability; for activating real participatory processes in knowledge production and decision-making; and for empowering technological agency of heterogeneous actor-networks and narrowing the gap between research results and policy applications.
In 2020 I’ve been granted a SPIN Grant at the Department of Management, Ca’Foscari University of Venice with a research project on Critical Digital Social Innovation and Urban Governance. The project explored the revolution brought forth by digital social innovation practices on traditional governance processes in the planning, organization and management of European cities; and the relationships between different stakeholders of the quadruple helix innovation model to find out what are the main assets and dynamics operating in social innovation-supporting ecosystems.
I have a multidisciplinary background and research experience in philosophy of science, human and cultural geography, sustainability theory, and urban studies (including critical smart city, participatory planning and environmental governance studies). I hold a degree in Philosophy of Science from the University of Rome La Sapienza (2003); a Master in Environmental Communication from the University of Pisa, Human and Environmental Sciences Department (2004); and a PhD in Political Science from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa (2009). In my studying, I used the environmental theory as a conceptual frame to investigate the politics of knowledge at the center of disagreements over the management of space, and to chart the great diversity of opinions over the significance of place identity for different actors involved in preserving, planning, or contesting spatial developments.
In the past years I have been research fellow at Sant’Anna School – Dirpolis Institute and Institute of Management, working on smart cities and communities, urban sustainability and informal planning (2014-2017), and the development of the environmental political theory (2009-2013). Overall, the research expanded the dominant role of spatial thinking in the formation of global environmental political agency.
In the meanwhile, I have been an Honorary Research Associate at the School of Engineering, Faculty of Science & Engineering, The University of Waikato (2018-2020) that I visited in 2019; guest professor on Spatial and Environmental Justice and Urban Gardens Planning at the BOKU University of Vienna (2016); visiting researcher at The Open University Geography Department, UK (2007), and at the Université Paris La Sorbonne – SciencePo, France (2011); Rachel Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU, Germany (2012); and visiting research fellow at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Ghent University, Belgium (2013).
I currently serve as External Collaborator at the Responsible Management Research Center, Pisa University; Alumna of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU, Munich and Senior Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Research Network, Utrecht University; and in 2016/17 I have been affiliate member to the Open Space Research Centre at The Open University, Milton Keynes.
For what concern teaching activity, I have been an adjunct professor in Environment and Society (Cultural Geography) at the Department of Science for Peace University of Pisa (2014-2017), and in Development Studies at Sant’Anna School (2017), while I obtained the Italian professorship habilitation in Geography (sector 11/B1) in 2017. In the a.y. 2019/20 I have been an adjunct professor in Geography at the University of Bergamo.
As a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with IBG I am engaged with the following research groups: Digital Geography, Geographies of Justice, Participatory Geographies, Planning and Environment and Urban Geography. As member of the AGeI – Associazione dei Geografi Italiani I took part in the research group “Geografia dell’ambiente” (Geography and Environment) and “Geografia dell’Innovazione e dell’Informazione” (Geography of Innovation and Information).
At the University of Turin I am now member of the Interdepartmental Research Centre on Urban & Event Studies – Omero, GeoTuNe – Turin Geographers network and the Energy Communities at UniTO research group.
Outside of academia I consulted and worked as an internal with environmental NGOs (Legambiente, Greenpeace, ASud and the Centro di Documentazione sui Conflitti Ambientali – which I contributed at establishing in 2003, and Fondazione dei Diritti Genetici); and the National Institute of Statistics, Structural Business Statistics Dep. (2010-2012). Presently I am a member of the Scientific Committee Legambiente Nazionale. In this position I collaborate with the Working Group on “Disuguaglianze ambientali- Disuguaglianze sociali”; and with the Forum Disuguaglianza e Diversità where I have been recently nominated as project partner. From January 2016 to February 2020, I served as Director of the IRTA Leonardo Research Institute on Territory and Environment, an interdepartmental research center supported by the University of Pisa. Currently I’m consultant on “World Industry 5.0” at the Osservatorio Impresa e Professioni 5.0 – Confassociazioni.
In my private life, I’m passionate about visionary people practicing disruptive social alternatives and speaking them aloud. Dangerously curious about innovative ideas, I found a home in many places and shared food with a wide variety of human (and non-human) beings. Early environmentalist, and experimental urban gardener, I like relaxing with indie-folk and punk music, a cup of (excellent) tea, and nautical novels. Have written and played theatrical pieces, climbed volcanoes and “tramped” New Zealand’s woods, slept in the Sahara and sank in the Polar Circle snow, served as a character for a fictional novel, lived in eco-villages, volunteered in wine, cow and vegetable farms, played in Irish pubs, traveled up and down the world, and went through unexpected storms. And lately discovered a deep passion for waves and the sea.