Associate Professor in Human Geography
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
Office hours: Office hours: Mondays 13.30-14.30 and Thursdays 15.30-16.30 No office hours on these dates: 31 Jan, 14 Feb, 14 March
Office hours: Mondays 13.30-14.30 and Thursdays 15.30-16.30
No office hours on these dates: 31 Jan, 14 Feb, 14 March
Federico Caprotti is a human geographer interested in sustainable cities and the green economy. He has worked on nature and the city from a historical and visual viewpoint, and has more recently worked on eco-city and smart city projects in China and the EU. At Exeter, he leads the ‘Smart Eco-Cities for a Green Economy (SMART-ECO)’ research consortium: this involves researchers in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany and China. SMART-ECO is funded by the ESRC, China’s NSFC, and the national research funding agencies of France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Federico also leads an ESRC Urban Transformations project on energy transitions in South African municipalities. He has previously lectured at the universities of Leicester, Oxford, UCL, and Plymouth. Prior to joining Exeter as associate professor in human geography, Federico was senior lecturer and then reader in cities and sustainability at King’s College London. Federico holds a bachelor’s and doctoral degree from Oxford University, is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Federico is a Fellow (2018-20) of the Alan Turing Institute. Since 2016 he has been an Affiliated Research Fellow of the Institute of Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. In 2017, a paper he was lead author on was named as one of the 25 most significant papers published in the past 40 years in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
Broad research specialisms:
Nature and the city; urban political ecology; sustainable cities; eco-cities; smart cities; platform urbanism.
BA (Hons) Geography, Oxford University;
DPhil Geography, Oxford University;
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of Plymouth;
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
My main research interests are in the relationship between nature and the city, and in the ways in which discourses, urban plans, visualities and geographical imaginations and visions of the city are used to shape urban and societal futures. I have carried out historical work on these topics, focusing on the construction of new towns and on visualities associated with technology. More recently, over the past ten years I have been working more closely on contemporary eco-city and smart city projects, with a focus on new-build and retrofit urbanism in China and Europe. My research is informed by conceptual approaches including urban political ecology, cultural economy, and critical approaches to the study of transitions.
Smart Eco-Cities for a Green Economy (SMART-ECO) (ESRC total: £382,000; consortium total of €1,100,000) (2015-18. Role: PI).
SMART-ECO is a large international research consortium trying to tackle the question of how new-build and retrofitted smart eco-city projects in Europe and China can be critically understood in light of their use as experimental spaces in which transitions to a green economy can be tested. The project involves researchers, including postdoctoral staff, at universities in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France and China.
Urban Transformation in South Africa Through Co-Designing Energy Services Provision Pathways (URBATRANS) (ESRC-NRF; ESRC total: £399,348) (2016-19. Role: PI).
URBATRANS is a collaborative international research project, jointly led by the universities of Exeter and Cape Town, and involving Sustainable Energy Africa. It tries to tackle some of the questions around unequal energy provisions in selected municipalities in South Africa through a process of co-design with stakeholders.
Probability and Uncertainty in Risk Estimation and Communication: A UK-China Collaboration (NERC-ESRC total: £149,046) (2016-19. Role: Co-I).
The project aims to assess the communication and assessment of risk, with a focus on Chinese urban areas.
2018: Mars Antarctica (MBR Space Settlement Challenge, total: £12,000) (Role: PI).
2016-19: Urban Transformation in South Africa Through Co-Designing Energy Services Provision Pathways (URBATRANS) (ESRC-NRF; ESRC total: £399,348) (Role: PI).
2016-19: Probability and Uncertainty in Risk Estimation and Communication: A UK-China Collaboration (NERC-ESRC total: £149,046) (2016-19. Role: Co-I).
2015-18: Smart Eco-Cities for a Green Economy (SMART-ECO) (ESRC total: £382,000; consortium total of €1,100,000) (Role: PI).
2015-16: Sir Richard Trainor PhD studentship. Funded studentship for one student to work on smart cities, with industrial supervision from IBM (£45,000)
2011-12: Royal Geographical Society Small Research Grant (£2,800)
2009-11: Nuffield Foundation Social Sciences Research Grant (£8,000)
2009-10: British Academy Small Research Grant, 2009-10 (£7,500)
2008-09: Royal Geographical Society-EPSRC Small Research Grant (£2,150)
2006-08: British Academy Small Research Grant (£5,850)
Publications by category
Publications by year
External Engagement and Impact
2017: A paper I was lead author on was named as one of the 25 most significant papers published in the past 40 years in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
2016: Invited to become an IAPS Global Research Fellow by the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China.
2016: Nominated for an AXA Research Foundation award in urban vulnerability in the Global South.
2013: Rockefeller Foundation Academic Writing Residency.
2012: Birmingham University fellowship (declined).
2006: Wolfsonian Fellowship, Florida International University (declined).
Associate Editor, Palgrave Communications.
Member of the ESRC Peer Review College.
External examiner, MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development, The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, and MSc Ecx-Cities, School of Geography and Planning, University of Cardiff
2016: ‘Analysing the actually existing UK smart city’, Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers, 31 August 2016 (with Rob Cowley and Simon Joss).
2016: Invited plenary speaker at an AHRC Network conference on ‘Smart City Futures and Social Justice’ at the University of Leeds, 29-30 June 2016.
2016: Organizer and chair of the funded ‘Urban Futures: Interrogating Metrics and the City’ workshop, King’s College London, 8 June 2016.
2016: ‘Introduction: metrics and sustainable urban futures’, at the ‘Urban Futures: Interrogating Metrics and the City’ workshop, King’s College London, 8 June 2016.
2016: Invited speaker on ‘Sustainable Urbanism in China’ at University College Maastricht, The Netherlands, May 2016.
2016: Invited panellist at a workshop on ‘Living in the Anthropocene: Defetishizing the City’, University of Westminster, London, April 2016.
2015: Invited to deliver a talk on smart cities as part of the Chevening-Gurukul Leadership Programme, hosted by King’s India Institute for Indian technology entrepreneurs and NGOs.
2015: ‘’Comfort is the ultimate aim of living’: exploring eco-urbanism in the Age of Crisis’, invited talk at University College London, 3 March 2015.
2014: Delivered an invited, plenary seminar talk on smart cities to the 2nd Urbanization and Global Environmental Change conference, Taipei, Taiwan, 6-8 November 2014.
2013: Caprotti F and Tan-Mullins M (2013) Social resilience and eco-cities in China. Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Italy, 18 November 2013.
2013: Chair, session on ‘Old limits, new limits? Bringing sectors and cities into focus.’ Cities: New Limits to Growth Conference, King’s College London, 4 October 2013.
2011: Invited talk: ‘Sectoral emergence and the cultural economy: the cleantech sector, 1990-2010’, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, 4 May 2011.
2010: Invited talk on ‘Teaching sustainability and eco-city research’, Geography Head Teachers Conference, Plymouth, 15 November 2010.
2010: Invited lecture, ‘Geographies of transition: a cultural political economy of the 'Cleantech Revolution'’. Department of Geography, Seoul National University, Seoul, 14 April 2010.
2010: Invited seminar, ‘Between environmental discourse and materiality: the discursive logic of sectoral emergence in the cleantech sector, 2003-2010’, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, February 2010.
2015: interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme, and asked to talk about my eco-cities research.
2015: I was interviewed and cited in an article in Geographical on Masdar eco-city. See: www.geographical.co.uk/places/cities/item/534-living-in-a-sustainable-laborator
2014: interviewed for France-Ouest for an article on Chinese special economic zones.
2009: interviewed on Italian national radio news (Radio 3 Scienza) on the subject of carbon emissions reductions negotiations in China and India in the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit.
2009: The Street, a US financial markets magazine, asked me to write an Op-Ed column focusing on the run-up to the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The column was published on 8 October 2009. Available at: www.thestreet.com/story/10607635/1/governments-should-listen-to-green-investors.html
2009: invited to take part in a published discussion on ‘green licensing’ by SEED Magazine. This was published by the magazine in August 2009. Available at: seedmagazine.com/content/article/intellectual_property_who_owns_green_tech
My office hours are held in Amory D439.
Term 2 office hours: Mondays 0930-1030 and Thursdays 1130-1230 (but see changes below for specific dates).
There are no office hours on: TBC
At other times by appointment: please email me.
Supervision / Group
- Dr Robert Cowley
- Dr Jonathan Phillips