Visiting Scholar Presentation: Discourse and Sustainable Urban Mobility

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Thursday, May 2, 2024, 2:30pm to 4:30pm PDT
Robin Hickman, University College London
Free and open to the public
Urban Center Building, Room 710

Join us in person Thursday, May 2 for a seminar with visiting scholar Robin Hickman of University College London. 

Note: This event is cancelled due to the closing of the PSU campus.


The transport systems, the shape of the built environment and the use of street spaces in contemporary cities and urban areas are a manifestation of what is regarded as ‘normal’ in different contexts. This reflects what counts as ‘true’ for transport and travel behaviours in particular contexts.

In many cities, it is normalised to consume ever increasing levels of individual mobility, with travel hugely dominated by car, yet for this to be highly problematic in environmental and social terms. Elsewhere, there may be more progressive approaches taken by institutions, or perhaps more critical debate and contestation by the public and other actors. The current order, in transport planning, in terms of the procedures available, the projects developed, and the travel behaviours that result, is simply the sorting of priorities.

This presentation seeks to develop an approach that utilises discourse analysis within transport planning, to help understand the different possibilities that might be on offer for transport strategies and also the reaction to new projects by the public. There are two key stages (Hickman, forthcoming 2024):

  • first, using discourse analysis, there is assessment of concepts such as discursive practice, discursive formation, discursive meaning; history, truth, discontinuity, power and ethics; in relation to particular case studies.
  • Second, this can be used to provide an improved understanding of the current problems and opportunities and likely strategies for future transport.

This will encourage a greater awareness and application of sustainable urban mobility in transport planning practice.


Robin is Professor in Transport & City Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and Director of the MSc in Transport & City Planning at UCL. His recent books include: Discourse Analysis in Transport and Urban Development (Edward Elgar, 2023); A Companion to Transport, Space and Equity (Edward Elgar, 2019); Handbook on Transport and Development (Edward Elgar, 2015) and  Transport, Climate Change and the City (Routledge, 2014).


Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is home to the U.S. DOT funded National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), PORTAL, BikePed Portal and other transportation programs. We produce impactful research and tools for transportation decision makers, expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engage students and professionals through education and research.