Skip to content


Change Stories is an international research partnership that aims to spark dialogue and learning through storytelling about sustainable urban development. Researchers and community-based partners from five global cities have partnered to shift common practices of how stories about successful urban change are told and who tells them.

Storytelling urban change

Three case study cities are involved as partners and sites for this research. Each city has achieved inspiring examples of sustainable urban development, including meeting the needs of marginalized groups. The actions in these cities support health through non-medical approaches, such as providing adequate housing and community services.

Stories about urban change are often simplified, giving credit to a single mayor or policy, which is not usually the full story. 

When we say “change stories”, we mean a compilation of diverse narratives about how the city transformed over time.

Researchers will explore the historical, social, political, economic and cultural context in which each city’s transformation occurred. Using participatory and ethnographic methods, including storytelling, the team will seek out the “change stories” in each city. Local and global partners will study and share these stories to spark learning in other places.


The collaboration involves academics and their community-based partners in Belfast (Queen’s University), Northern Ireland, Belo Horizonte (Federal University of Minas Gerais Brazil and Observatory for Urban Health), Brazil, and Bogotá (Universidad de los Andes), Colombia.

Partners at the University of Washington (where the project is based) and the Institute for Inclusive Economies and Sustainable Livelihoods at the University of Toronto, Scarborough (Canada) will focus on generating comparative research and policy-relevant knowledge. All collaborators are interested in advancing South-South and South-North learning experiences that can advance equity and sustainability goals globally.

Support for this project was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.