Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE)

The Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE) specialised in studying energy and environmental systems in cities and regions.

Dilapidated building.

The first generation Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology (CURE) was launched in 2000 by John Handley and Joe Ravetz, with a large community of interest and the landmark text City-Region 2020 as a foundation.

This was restructured in 2013 as the Collaboratory for Urban Energy and Resilience (CURE), led by Stefan Bouzarovski: then in 2018, along with other smaller centres, CURE was merged with the new Manchester Urban Institute (MUI).

An overview of CURE was published as a special issue of Town & Country Planning Vol.82.

The following now forms the CURE archive, with materials of interest to many current projects.

About us

CURE is a leading research centre for socio-ecological resilience and urban sustainability.

Global challenges like climate change, environmental damage, and equitable energy access require more than just new technologies. They also demand a grasp of culture, politics, and socio-spatial dynamics.

Our research approach is critical. We examine and challenge prevailing practices and power structures that harm human and environmental well-being, seeking alternatives.

Our goal is to produce practical, applicable research for policymakers, businesses, and civil society. We collaborate with various stakeholders, academic and non-academic, to create knowledge through exchange, experimentation, and discussion.

We draw from diverse fields like human geography, environmental science, spatial planning, and socio-technical and systems studies, using various research methods.

CURE actively contributes to Manchester's research scene through consistent external funding, including projects like EVALUATE (supported by the European Research Council), Triangulum, RESIN, and COMBI (funded by Horizon 2020), and the European Energy Poverty Observatory.

Our research themes

Climate resilience

Cities are vital hubs for social, environmental, and economic progress, but they face significant risks from extreme weather and climate change like flooding, rising sea levels, and heat stress. Factors such as location, population vulnerability, and urbanization intensify these hazards.

Given the rapid climate change forecasts, cities must bolster their resilience. For more than a decade, CURE has been engaged in projects related to urban climate change adaptation and resilience, studying issues from buildings to regions. Greater Manchester has served as a testing ground for our research.

Our projects examine three key aspects: climate change hazards, vulnerability, and responses. We employ a range of methods, from geographical information systems to scenario planning, with a multidisciplinary approach. Our researchers maintain strong connections with local and regional authorities, emphasizing collaboration and co-production for impactful research.

Energy, society and space

We challenge conventional ideas about the connection between energy, society, and spatial arrangements. We have secured more than £5million in funding from Research Councils, the EU, companies, and charitable organizations.

Our research employs various methods to explore how social inequalities, environmental concerns, cultural practices, and technological advancements influence the development of energy systems. Our multidisciplinary team comprises researchers from more than 10 different fields and serves as a key hub for energy and social science research at The University of Manchester.

With the world's population projected to be over 70% urban by 2050, cities play a pivotal role in energy production, consumption, and global changes. Our research at Manchester focuses on the 'urban' as a starting point for addressing energy-related issues. We aim to show that contemporary energy challenges, such as climate change, decarbonization, sustainability, security, and equity, are intricately linked to urban functioning and future development reliant on energy networks.

Resilience thinking

We examine the link between social-ecological resilience, energy dynamics, and urban configurations.

We utilise resilience thinking to emphasize the dynamic and precarious nature of human-environment interactions and how social and ecological systems can have multiple states of stability or instability.

Our primary focus is on the socio-technical shifts toward a low-carbon economy that cities and regions must make to combat climate change and unsustainable resource usage.

We aim to expand current knowledge regarding the vulnerabilities brought about by sustainability transitions. We use resilience as a framework to highlight factors like infrastructure access, ecological system features, and household and community practices. Our intellectual project involves:

  • exploring the significance of complexity and 'synergistics' in determining social-ecological resilience across various scales;
  • the political dimensions of the relationship between the environment and society, including notions of justice and equity;
  • investigating how socio-technical changes impact resilience in urban and regional structures.

Spatial systems, transformations and linkages

This theme investigates resilience and vulnerability in urban and rural areas by considering land use change, landscape impacts, spatial planning, resource flows, and socio-technical transitions.

The overarching idea here is about connections. Instead of viewing cities and spatial development in isolated economic or environmental categories, we see them as interconnected systems that interact and evolve. To address this, we require a new kind of holistic thinking.

Examining the interconnections among urban systems, resource flows, climate change, land use, and landscape has been a central aspect of CURE's work since the establishment of its predecessor, the Centre for Urban and Regional Ecology, in 2000. Now, this perspective is evolving into a focus on interconnected thinking.

This approach leads to cross-cutting methods, including complexity and emergence, transition and innovation studies, and futures and foresight techniques, all applied to resilience/vulnerability studies, social learning, collaboration, values, and valuation issues.

Numerous projects are carried out at various levels, addressing sectors like housing, transportation, land use, energy management, economic development, and organizational studies. Collaborations extend to institutions in Manchester and other universities globally, as well as inter-governmental organizations.

Our goal is to develop theoretical insights focusing on synergistics, which involve highly complex, co-evolutionary, interconnected systems of social collaboration, learning, and intelligence. These encompass economic, environmental, social, cultural, political, and spatial systems.

This is seen as a crucial step in addressing both global and local Grand Societal Challenges. We also aim to produce practical research in collaboration with policymakers, businesses, and civil society to address pertinent questions like sustainable settlement design, environmental policy in job-pollution areas, and promoting sustainable neighborhoods in fragmented cities.

Our teaching

Our people

Academic staff



Current PhD students

  • Joseph Chambers
  • Caitlin Robinson
  • Craig Thomas

Contact us


Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy (CURE)
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL
United Kingdom



  • +44 (0)161 275 6940