John B Robinson

John B Robinson
University of Toronto | U of T · Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

Ph.D.

About

175
Publications
92,233
Reads
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10,359
Citations
Introduction
John Robinson is a Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and the School of the Environment, at the University of Toronto; an Honorary Professor with the Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability at The University of British Columbia; and an Adjunct Professor with the Copenhagen Business School.
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - present
University of Toronto
Position
  • Professor (Full)
January 2016 - July 2020
University of Toronto
Position
  • Professor (Full)
June 1992 - December 2015
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • Professor (Full)
Education
September 1977 - January 1981
University of Toronto
Field of study
  • Geography
September 1975 - September 1977
York University
Field of study
  • Environmental Studies
September 1971 - May 1975
University of Toronto
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (175)
Article
Community Wellbeing (CW) in the built environment is acknowledged as being ‘greater than the sum of its parts’, a process that emerges when residents negotiate understandings of community within shared spaces. However, methods of evaluation have not caught up. In practice, evaluation methods and frameworks measure CW as an aggregate of individual w...
Article
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This paper explores what it might mean to think about ontological change in our quest for sustainability transformations. To do so, it attempts to paint a picture of the vanished world of esoteric thinking in Western Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The paper pays particular attention to the alchemical tradition of the times and des...
Technical Report
supplement to Williams and Robinson, 2020
Article
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This paper applied a recently developed Local Government Climate Action Assessment Framework to identify whether small municipalities in British Columbia are on track to meet their climate targets and to better understand the effectiveness of their climate-related actions. The aim of this paper was (1) to further test the assessment framework by ev...
Article
To transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon economy, a series of local governments in British Columbia, Canada, are implementing climate action and innovation. This is largely in response to a need for societal changes in current development paths. However, there has been a lack of studies assessing the effectiveness of these actions and whe...
Article
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To address the challenge of achieving social learning in support of transformative change to sustainability, this paper develops an analytical framework that applies a social practice theory (SPT) lens to illuminate the constituent elements and dynamics of social learning in the context of transdisciplinary coproduction for sustainability transitio...
Presentation
Full-text available
Keynote address on normalizing sustainability in times of massive change
Article
Sustainability Transition Experiments (STEs), leveraging a transdisciplinary research approach, have recently been proposed as a method to accelerate sustainability transitions. This paper outlines a proposed three-part evaluation framework to assess the process, societal effects, and sustainability transition impacts of STEs. The paper extracts th...
Article
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Local governments have a key role to play in implementing climate innovations as they have jurisdiction over a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (MC³) is the first longitudinal study exploring climate innovation in Canadian municipalities. A tri-university research collaborative, it focuses on Bri...
Article
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The Expanded Student Engagement Project (ESE) has developed three comprehensive inventories which aim to increase student knowledge of sustainability-related course content and increase student engagement in on- and off-campus, curricular, and non-curricular sustainability projects at the University of Toronto (U of T). The first is a sustainabilit...
Article
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Globally, there are significant challenges to meeting built environment performance targets. The gaps found between the predicted performance of new or retrofit buildings and their actual performance impede an understanding of how to achieve these targets. This paper points to the importance of reliable and informative building performance assessme...
Article
Decomposition analysis provides a potentially powerful means for analyzing community greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data. However, this form of analysis is typically conducted at larger geographical scales (i.e., national and state/provincial levels), which leaves questions around how to apply this methodology to local and regional contexts. This s...
Chapter
Full-text available
Local communities are on the front line of climate action, mitigation, and adaptation implementation. This chapter explores the research outcomes of a tri-university five-year research collaboration studying local climate innovators in the province of British Columbia. At the time the research began, there was a unique opportunity to study multilev...
Article
In the design and operations industries, the performance gap is a common discrepancy found between predicted building energy performance and actual energy performance. The performance gap is considered to have negative impacts for the brand of ‘green’ buildings, designers and operators. A socially based analogue is proposed here: the qualitative pe...
Article
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We report on preliminary results from a public engagement project based on a procedural approach to sustainability. The project centered on an interactive art installation that comprised a live actor, an immersive soundscape featuring a handful of different characters, an interactive touch-table, and four interactive rooms within which participants...
Article
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This perspective documents current thinking around climate actions in Canada by synthesizing scholarly proposals made by Sustainable Canada Dialogues (SCD), an informal network of scholars from all 10 provinces, and by reviewing responses from civil society representatives to the scholars’ proposals. Motivated by Canada’s recent history of repeated...
Article
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Purpose This paper describes the sustainability partnership between the City of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia (UBC) and, in particular, the co-curricular Greenest City Scholars graduate student internship program, which has been developed by the two organizations. Through the program, UBC graduate students work on projects at th...
Chapter
Urban resilience frameworks and strategies currently taken up in cities around the globe fall short of adequately preparing urban communities for the scale of change that many will face in coming decades. For cities aiming to address the impacts of climate change in a proactive sense as well as post-disaster, urban resilience presents itself as a u...
Article
Geologically speaking, the Anthropocene marks the end of the Holocene period, a time of great planetary stability. Conceptually speaking, the Anthropocene marks the end of the Modernist period, a time of great epistemic stability. As scientific framings of sustainability strain under anthropocenic realities, reconceptualizing sustainability may be...
Article
The University of British Columbia's (UBC) long-term vision is to embed sustainability in all of its undergraduate teaching programs. The University has described four student sustainability attributes - Holistic Systems Thinking, Sustainability Knowledge, Awareness and Integration, and Acting for Positive Change - to help guide academic units to d...
Article
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Purpose – Delivery of sustainability-related curriculum to undergraduate students can be problematic due to the traditional “siloing” of curriculum by faculties along disciplinary lines. In addition, while there is often a ready availability of courses focused on sustainability issues in the later years of students’ programs, few early entry-level...
Article
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Over the past 20 years a number of studies have identified and provided explanations for a significant ‘performance gap' between designed and actual energy performance of buildings. The anticipated and achieved energy performance of an advanced, innovative building that aspired to net-positive energy performance is studied: the Centre for Interacti...
Article
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Over the past half century, a discourse emphasizing environmental constraints and limits has both informed and provided many valuable ways of responding to complex environmental problems and has strongly shaped green building practices and associated environmental assessment methods. This paper delineates the concept of ‘regenerative sustainability...
Article
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The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) is taking significant steps towards climate change mitigation, including a carbon tax on fossil fuels and legislation that mandates greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions within public sector organisations and GHG reduction targets for municipalities. This paper carries out a preliminary scan of the GHG emiss...
Article
Sustainability research that strives to develop solution options to complex problems and involves non-academic partners has received increasing public attention. Given this trend, funding organizations, universities, and collaborating partners from business and government seek evidence for the effectiveness of such research. The article introduces...
Article
While the focus of government climate change policy in many regions is on mitigation, research shows that integrated approaches, focusing equally on mitigation and adaptation, seen in the context of more general sustainability goals, may ultimately yield more productive outcomes. Since 2008, the province of British Columbia has mandated that local...
Chapter
Games for Change are digital games that purport to change people’s opinions, attitudes, or behaviors around specific issues. While thousands of games have been created, there is little evidence that such games do persuade or contribute to behavior change. To address this problem, address the research question: How do elements of the different model...
Article
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While climate change action plans are becoming more common, it is still unclear whether communities have the capacity, tools, and targets in place to trigger the transformative levels of change required to build fundamentally low-carbon, resilient, healthy communities. Evidence increasingly supports the finding that this transformation is not trigg...
Chapter
Sustainability is a growing priority for higher education institutions around the world. Many universities are responding to global imperatives by committing to strong operational sustainability goals and targets. Similarly, many universities are realigning their resources and redefining their academic priorities to respond to the need to prepare s...
Conference Paper
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Research into the effects of serious games often engages with interdisciplinary models of how human behaviors are shaped and changed over time. To better understand these different perspectives we articulate three cognitive models of behavior change and consider the potential of these models to support a deeper understanding of behavior change in s...
Article
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A key notion in regenerative design is the co-evolutionary, partnered relationship between socio-cultural and ecological systems, which requires an explicit engagement with the implications and consequences of future design decisions. However, despite the extensive literature in other disciplines regarding the co-evolution of socio-cultural and eco...
Article
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Over the last decade, sustainability science has been at the leading edge of widespread efforts from the social and natural sciences to produce use-inspired research. Yet, how knowledge generated by sustainability science and allied fields will contribute to transitions toward sustainability remains a critical theoretical and empirical question for...
Article
Social media are considered ideal means to promote inclusive political participation by “reaching citizens where they are” in scalable and cost-effective ways. However, with all the excitement about the new virtual public sphere, little attention is given to the technical mediation itself – the affordances of e-deliberation platforms and the kind o...
Article
Social media are considered ideal means to promote inclusive political participation by “reaching citizens where they are” in scalable and cost-effective ways. However, with all the excitement about the new virtual public sphere, little attention is given to the technical mediation itself – the affordances of e-deliberation platforms and the kind o...
Article
John Robinson directs the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), a hub for sustainability research that opens for business this month in an ultra-green building at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. Robinson explains the practical challenges involved in turning a campus into a 'living lab'.
Article
User engagement, stakeholder involvement, and public consultation in sustainability research have received increased attention over the last decade. Key driving factors behind this are that social outcomes, policy relevance, and user engagement have all become requirements for securing research funding. Many articles have provided compelling argume...
Article
This paper describes recent progress in the utilization of participatory scenario-based backcasting approaches to sustainability research that blend quantitative and qualitative analyses in order to explore alternative climate change futures, as undertaken in a range of academic, government, and private sector projects in the Lower Mainland of Brit...
Article
There is an urgent need for meaningful information and effective public processes at the local level to build awareness, capacity, and agency on climate change, and support planning and decision-making. This paper describes a conceptual framework to meet these requirements by generating alternative, coherent, holistic climate change scenarios and v...
Chapter
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Despite the recent upsurge in research, the complex and inter-related processes driving climate change continue to be characterized by significant uncertainty. One of the major issues for policy-makers is how to deal with this considerable uncertainty in ways that enable pro-active measures rather than complicate or discourage them. A great unknown...
Article
The field of Participatory Integrated Assessment (PIA) is still very young, having evolved from the broader field of Integrated Assessment (IA) in the mid to late 1990s. Like IA, PIA is a problem-based field, with a focus on interdisciplinary research. Fundamental to PIA, however, is the assertion that the quality of decisions is improved by the di...
Article
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Purpose – This paper aims to explore the relationship between green building design and workplace design practice, and to examine the role of organizational culture in shaping design and operation decisions with consequence for user experience. Design/methodology/approach – A literature review and introduction of key concepts establish the founda...
Conference Paper
This paper describes recent progress in the utilization of participatory scenario-based backcasting approaches to sustainability research that blend quantitative and qualitative analysis in order to explore alternative climate change futures, as undertaken in the Georgia Basin Futures Project and a range of subsequent academic, government, and priv...
Chapter
Full-text available
Recent advances in the study of climate change impacts and responses have indicated the great value of integrated assessment methods. Traditional integrated assessment, however, is plagued by the lack of thorough integration of social and institutional domains, which must occur if integrated assessment is to serve its purpose of facilitating decisi...
Article
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Introduction Climate change impacts, and potential adaptive and mitigative responses, have been the subject of major assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including the Fourth Assessment Report, which was published in 2007. Throughout the assessment process, increasing attention was focused on linkages between climate...
Article
Achieving the greatly enhanced levels of reduction in energy demand that are required for climate stabilization will require new approaches to energy efficiency and conservation that go well beyond conventional approaches. Broadening the scope from discrete goals to systemic development path changes can contribute to sustainable futures by helping...
Article
in its causes and global in its impacts, climate change still poses an unresolved challenge for scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, and citizens. Climate change research is largely global in focus, aims at enhanced understanding, and is driven by experts, all of which seem to be insufficient to anchor climate change action in regional and local...
Article
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To what extent can the urgency of climate change and an evolving concept of agency (at the individual and social levels of building users) create a new context for rethinking the notion of comfort? A new, emerging notion of comfort is explored that embraces engagement with new conditions, new experiences, and new types of interactions between inhab...
Article
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This paper articulates a view of interdisciplinary derived from actual practice. Based on a distinction between different types of interdisciplinary temperament, the paper proposes five characteristic of ‘issue-driven interdisciplinarity’ in the sustainability field: being problem-based, integration, interactivity and emergence, reflexivity, and st...
Article
This article analyzes the experience of a particular sustainability learning classroom model, examining the classroom composition, structure, positioning, and atmosphere components in an experimental course on the topic of sustainable buildings. The course, called Angles on Green Building, offered as the second in a suite by the Learning City susta...
Article
This paper presents the characterization and sustainability assessment of an integrated scenario describing a number of demonstration projects currently planned along the proposed Hydrogen Highway™ in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The characterization reveals a large gap between the current activity and the projections of the Canadian National Ene...
Article
This article builds on Yohe's seminal piece on mitigative capacity, which elaborates ‘determinants’ of mitigative capacity, also reflected in the IPCC's third assessment report. We propose a revised definition, where mitigative capacity is a country's ability to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions or enhance natural sinks. By “ability” we...
Article
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At continental and regional scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have already been observed, including changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather such as droughts, heavy precipitation, heatwaves and the intensity of tropical cyclones (IPCC, 2007a). The m...
Chapter
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This chapter identifies four types of inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation: Adaptation actions that have consequences for mitigation; Mitigation actions that have consequences for adaptation; Decisions that include trade-offs or synergies between adaptation and mitigation; Processes that have consequences for both adaptation and mi...