Can a “scholar-mobilizer” approach significantly contribute to implementing the mobility transition? An experiment with Loos-en-Gohelle inhabitants (Northern France).

Authors: Claire Tollis*, Transport, Mobility & City Research Unit, Alain L'HOSTIS, Transport, Mobility & City Research Unit
Topics: Planning Geography, Cultural Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Planning, Mobilities, Methodology, scholar-mobilizer approach, ethics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Ambassador Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Practitioners need guidance on how to address people needs regarding day-to-day mobility, especially when they try to get the population involved in the transition towards more sustainable mobilities; for this transition challenges individuals’ ability/willingness to change. Research on transport has long led huge quantitative studies to grab “public interests” through statistical studies. Little work has been done specifically, however, on how fragile households cope with their daily commute and the resources and expertise they combine in doing so. In this contribution, we aim to specify the scholar-mobilizer posture and the research protocol put to practice in Loos-en-Gohelle, a small town of the ancient Northern coal-mining area of France. The program followed 4 steps: (1) an immersion period (2) an ‘enrolling” survey (3) six “mobility-cocktails” -meetings where citizens were invited to co-build mobility solutions with researchers (4) a one-month challenge during which people were encouraged to “change the way they moved”. This cross-methodological program led to a nuanced co-produced diagnosis of mobility needs on the territory. New modest transportation services were implemented and we observed qualitative signs of change in people’s behavior as well as in policy prioritizing. A set of recommendations were provided and this work opens new paths for innovation in strategic planning and risk taking in planning research. But, as the “scholar-mobilizer” posture embodies the tensions between theory and practice, ethical and scientific questions arise and call for discussion. Here, research appears to be an intervention in the strongest meaning of the term: insurgent and certainly not neutral.

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