Key terms and concepts

Last changed: 06 May 2020

Words and ideas shape understanding; at SLU Urban Futures a number of terms and concepts are central to our work.

Research Platform / Future Platform

Research Platform / Research Platform is the SLU organization for generating and communicating research on key future issues in ways that spans the line organization (faculties and institutions), as well as interact with external actors to achieve the goals.

Future perspective

As one of SLU's four future platforms, SLU Urban Futures has the task of working with a future perspective. The platform's overall mission is to address long-term challenges for sustainable urban development, both nationally and internationally.

We also want to:
  1. Implement and analyze futurology to create discussion and dialogue and to formulate research questions
  2. Together with SLU's other future platforms, SLU researchers are offered to learn more about futurology and the ability to critically review them with the aid of courses and meetings
  3. Support SLU researchers in developing system thinking
  4. Better be able to present the importance of research results from different time perspectives, making them more palpable for decision makers


Futurology is a science that always seeks dialogue: what options can be imagined? What is possible, desirable or threatening? The perspective of futurology is of course long-term, by developing future scenarios and future reports we extend the view. The purpose of futurology is not to establish truths or to predict the future. Instead, futurology point to alternatives and provide the basis for discussion and action.


One of the most important aims for the SLU Urban Futures platform is to develop transdisciplinary working methods by initiating and facilitating collaborations across scientific disciplines.

In order to achieve this we will stimulate multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary research by:

  • Making research and researchers at SLU active in sustainable urban development visible within and outside of SLU
  • Provide opportunities to meet across disciplinary borders to facilitate new collaborations
  • Provide short courses, workshops and seminars for SLU staff in order to broaden their knowledge in transdisciplinary research
  • Provide stimulus for transdisciplinary applications

What do we mean by transdisciplinary research?

Multi- inter-, and transdisciplinary research is here defined as research that comprises theory, method or research approaches from more than one scientific discipline or fields of research. In multidisciplinary research the different theories, methods or approaches are used side by side, and in interdisciplinary research they are, at least to some extent, integrated. Transdisciplinary research is distinguished in its recognition and inclusion of other types of knowledge than scientific knowledge, such as practice and experience based knowledge and knowhow.

Sustainable development

Defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987), sustainable development has emerged as the guiding principle for long-term global development. Consisting of three pillars, sustainable development seeks to achieve, in a balanced manner, economic development, social development and environmental protection. (Source: United Nations)