Barthel is the director of a challenge driven research program on urban sustainability at the University of Gävle. It is having the mission to stimulate the integration of socio-technical environmental research with that of social-ecological urban research. In this way this strategic research program aims to develop a holistic system perspective on sustainable urban development in the Anthropocene, having the unique goal to create “bio-socio-technical solutions” for improving urban resilience while aiming for sustainability transitions with global repercussions. Furthermore it has the mission to translate academic research into trans-disciplinary collaborations and co-creation projects with actors outside academia.
Barthel has multiple streams of urban sustainability research ongoing. He concentrates on the various ways urbanization can promote individual health and well-being (see ZEUS below). He is also interested in supporting research that creates better understanding for how to strengthen human-environmental relations in metropolitan landscapes (Barthel et al., 2018). A third research stream, currently employing one PhD-candidate, is the exploration of designs for enabling broad-based shifts towards pro-environmental behaviour in cities. While we find ourselves in the midst of the digital revolution, resilience analysis will also be performed on smart (digital) city developments.
Barthel currently leads a Formas project called ZEUS. Objectives of this project include developing, in a PhD-project, a methodology to evaluate and analyze spatial accessibility to both ecosystem services and simultaneously to urban services, and to evaluate how such access impact on inhabitants’ everyday experiences. A second objective is to develop an open database by constructing primary levels of data from 1) a PPGIS study; 2) spatial distribution of the population; and 4) data about the ecosystem service of temperature regulation. At later stages in the project we aim to include data on noise-and air pollution as well as a greater number of ecosystem services. The project draws on public participation GIS study (PPGIS) on Stockholm and Knivsta. This PPGIS is designed to capture positive and negative experiences of the citizens.
Barthel is also part of the board for the Inter-reg. EU project called Augmented Urbans (AU). This project refers to strengthening the integration of three aspects in urban planning: timeframe, participation and technology. It improves stakeholder participation and linkage between the long-term visions and short-term actions in the cities for enhancing urban resilience. For this, new augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies (AR, VR & MR) are explored and utilised as tools as they hold great potential for supporting urban planning processes in guiding discussions, and providing immersive scenarios.