Francqui Chair for Tim Schwanen

The faculty of Sciences of Ghent University nominated Prof. Tim Schwanen as a candidate for the Francqui Chair.

Tim Schwanen is Professor of Transport Geography and Director of the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford.

In February, March and April 2022, Prof. Schwanen will be staying in Ghent for a couple of days every month and present a lecture series titled Just Transformations in Urban Mobility: Planetary Challenges. The lecture series consists of 10 individual lectures.



Tim Schwanen is Professor of Transport Geography and Director of the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow at St Anne's College in Oxford, holds a PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands (2003, cum laude), and has held various appointments at Utrecht University and the University of Oxford. He was a Visiting Professor in Geography at the University of Gothenburg (2016-2019) and editor-in-chief of Journal of Transport Geography (2013-2015). Tim is currently an editor of Environment and Planning F: Philosophy, Theory, Models, Methods and Practice and serves on editorial advisory boards of five journals focused on transport and mobility. Since September 2021 he has been a Fellow of the Academy for Social Sciences, the UK's national academy for academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences. Tim’s research concentrates on the geographies of the everyday mobilities of people, goods and information and their relations with the climate emergency, technological change, social and spatial inequalities, and health and wellbeing. He also has a strong interest in transport and mobility philosophy. His work is widely published and cited, and he regularly engages with the media, policymakers, private sector actors and civil society organisations.

Overview of lectures - "Just Transformations in Urban Mobility: Planetary Challenges"

The lectures will be offered in three blocks: 1-3 on 21 and 22 February 2022, 4-7 on 16 and 17 March 2022 and 8-10 on 25 and 26 April 2022.

  • Lecture 1 - 21 February 2022, 17:30 - 19:30 (Aula, Ceremoniezaal)
    The Need for Just Transformations in Urban Mobility
    This introductory lecture will explain why the climate emergency is the most fundamental crisis the transport and mobility sector is facing, and why this demands deep changes in which justice is a critical consideration.
  • Lecture 2 - 22 February 2022, 10:00 - 11:00 (Aula, Ceremoniezaal)
    Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Lecture 3 - 22 February 2022, 11:00 - 12:00 (Aula, Ceremoniezaal)
    Knowledge and Valuation
    Just mobility transformations demand that climate emergency mitigation and adaptation are placed on an equal footing and reconnected, which can be achieved through a wellbeing orientation. They also require ways of knowing and valuing mobility are pluriversalised.
  • Lecture 4 - 16 March 2022, 10:00 - 11:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Urbanisation and Infrastructure
    Densification, land-use mixing and provision of high-quality infrastructure for public and active travel provide opportunities for transforming urban mobility but also consolidate, enhance and create mobility injustices depending on politico-economic, governmental and epistemic conditions.
  • Lecture 5 - 16 March 2022, 11:00 - 12:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Practices, Access and Capabilities
    Behaviour change is a central and inevitable element of mobility transformations but the thinking on actual and potential mobility behaviour need rethinking and reimagining.
  • Lecture 6 - 17 March 2022, 10:00 - 11:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Electrification and Automation
  • Lecture 7 - 17 March 2022, 11:00 - 12:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Technological changes have huge potential in how urban mobility is practiced, known and valued but can also consolidate existing injustices and new forms of oppression that marginalise and exclude certain experiences, social groups and geographies.
  • Lecture 8 - 25 April 2022, 14:00 - 15:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Long-Distance Mobilities
  • Lecture 9 - 25 April 2022, 15:00 - 16:00 (Sterre, S8)
    Rebound and Other Unintended Consequences
    The realisation of just transformations in urban mobility is replete with challenges but the most pernicious relate to the long-distance mobility of people and goods and unintended indirect effects of initiatives to make urban mobility more just, sustainable and climate resilient.
  • Lecture 10 - 26 April 2022, 10:00 - 12:00 (Sterre, S8)
    The Road Ahead: Governing Just Mobility Transformations
    This concluding lecture will summarise key insights from the lecture series and argue that the governance of mobility transformation is the biggest challenge of all, while also offering some suggestions about how this can be reconfigured.

Inaugural lecture

Tim Schwanen's inaugural lecture will take place on Monday 21 February 2022 at 17:30 in the Aula (Voldersstraat 9, 9000 Ghent).

The Need for Just Transformations in Urban Mobility

It is now widely agreed that the transport sector has to change dramatically to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible. The good news is that, across the planet, transport’s electrification now seems unstoppable and that initiatives that encourage public transport, walking and cycling – from the roll-out of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) across cities in the global South to segregated cycling infrastructure in European and North-American cities – are widely supported by public, private and civil society actors. Many challenges remain: the demand for carbon-intensive mobility continues to grow quickly on the planetary scale; adaptation of mobility systems to climate change remains a secondary concern; political will to act decisively in light of the climate emergency is generally (very) limited; and current trends risk entrenching – if not aggravating – the multiple injustices baked into urban mobility systems in and across the global North, South and East. The current indictment needs to be understood and appreciated better. This lecture series proposes that this become possible if research and practical intervention into urban mobility systems are premised on multidimensional conception of justice; an integration of mitigation and adaptation; and a rethinking of the knowledge production, valuation and governance of urban mobility. The first lecture will begin to outline the approach developed in the lecture series and concentrate on the question how justice should be understood in the context of transformations in mobility behaviour, technologies, infrastructures and governance in cities around the planet.


  • Welcome speech by Prof. Frank Witlox, promotor
  • Speech by Prof. Isabel Van Driessche, dean of the Faculty of Sciences
  • Inaugural lecture Francqui by Professor Tim Schwanen
  • Speech and presentation Ghent University medal by the vice-rector, Prof. Mieke Van Herreweghe
  • Reception (as from 19:30)