John Robinson, Professor


Home Campus:
U of T St. George

University of Toronto

Other Degrees:
York University MES
University of Toronto BA

Cross Appointments:
Munk School of Global Affairs

Contact Information:

Phone: 416.946.8936
Office:315 Bloor St. West, Room 202

Research Interests:

  • The intersection of climate change mitigation
  • Adaptation and sustainability
  • The use of visualization, modeling, and citizen engagement to explore sustainable futures
  • Sustainable buildings and urban design
  • The intersection of sustainability, social and technological change, behavior change, and community engagement processes.

Selected Publications:

Refereed Articles

  • Munro, A., Marcus, J., Wahl, J., Dolling, K., Robinson, J., “Combining Forces: Fostering Sustainability Collaboration between the City of Vancouver and The University of British Columbia”, forthcoming in International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Fedoruk, L., Cole, R., Robinson, J., Cayuela, A., (2015) “Learning from failure: understanding the anticipated-achieved building energy performance gap”, Building Research & Information, DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2015.1036227
  • Coops, N., Marcus, J.,Construt, I., Frank, E., Kellett, R., Mazzi, E., Munro, A., Nesbit, S., Riseman, A., Robinson, J., Schultz, A., and Sipos, Y., (2015) “How an entry-level, interdisciplinary sustainability course revealed the benefits and challenges of a university-wide initiative for sustainability education”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 16 (5): 729 – 747
  • Marcus, J., Coops, N., Ellis, S. and Robinson, J., (2015) “Embedding sustainability learning pathways across the university” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16:7–13.
  • Robinson, J. and Cole, R., (2015) “Theoretical Underpinnings of Regenerative Sustainability”, Building Research and Information, 43(2): 133-143
  • Burch, S., Yuill, H., Robinson, J. (2014) “Meeting the climate change challenge: a scan of greenhouse gas emissions in BC communities”, Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2014.902370
  • Wiek, A., Talwar, S., O’Shea, M., Robinson, J. (2014) “Toward a methodological scheme for capturing societal effects of participatory sustainability research”, Research Evaluation, 23(2): 117-132.
  • Shaw, A., Burch, S., Kristensen, F., Robinson, J., Dale, A. (2014) “Accelerating the sustainability transition: Exploring synergies between adaptation and mitigation in British Columbian communities”, Global Environmental Change, 25: 41-51.
  • Miller, T.R., Wiek, A., Sarewitz, D., Robinson, J., Olsson, L., Kriebel, D., Loorbach D. (2014) “The Future of Sustainability Science: A Solutions-Oriented Research Agenda”, Sustainability Science, 9(2): 239-246
  • Haas-Lyons, S., Walsh, M., Aleman, E., Robinson, J. (2014) “Exploring Regional Futures: Lessons from Metropolitan Chicago’s Online MetroQuest”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 82: 23-33
  • Burch, S., Shaw, A., Dale, A., Robinson, J. (2014) “Triggering transformative change: A development path approach to climate change response in communities”, Climate Policy, 14(4): 467-487
  • Cole, R.J., Oliver, A. and Robinson, J. (2013) “Regenerative design, socio-ecological systems and co-evolution”, Building Research & Information, 41(2): 237-247
  • Bendor, R., Haas Lyons, S., Robinson, J. (2012)What’s There Not to ‘Like’? The Technical Affordances of Sustainability Deliberations on Facebook”, eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government, 4(1): 67-88
  • Robinson, J., Burch, S., Talwar, S., O’Shea, M., Walsh, M. (2011) “Envisioning Sustainability: Recent progress in the use of participatory backcasting approaches for sustainability research”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 78: 756-768
  • Sheppard, S., Shaw A., Flanders, D., Burch, S., Wiek, A., Carmichael, J., Robinson, J., Cohen, S. (2011) “Future Visioning of Local Climate Change: A Framework for Community Engagement and Planning with Scenarios and Visualization”, Futures , 43: 400-412
  • Talwar, S., Wiek, A., Robinson J. (2011) “User engagement in sustainability research”, Science and Public Policy, 38(5): 379-390
  • Salter, J., Robinson J., Wiek, A. (2010) “Participatory Methods of Integrated Assessment – A Review”, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1: 697-717
  • Brown, Z., Cole, R., Robinson, J., Dowlatabadi, H. (2010) “Evaluating User Experience in Green Buildings in Relation to Workplace Culture and Context”. Facilities, 28(4): 225-238
  • Shaw, A., Sheppard, S., Burch, S., Flanders, D., Wiek, A., Carmichael, J., Robinson J., Cohen, S. (2010) “Making local futures tangible – Synthesizing, downscaling, and visualizing climate change scenarios for participatory capacity building”, Global Environmental Change, 19: 447-463
  • Dusyk, N., Berkhout, T., Burch, S., Coleman, S., Robinson, J. (2009) “Transformative energy efficiency and conservation: A sustainable development path approach in British Columbia, Canada”, Energy Efficiency 22(4): 387-400
  • Cole, R., Robinson, J., Brown, Z., O’Shea, M. (2008) “Re-contextualizing the notion of comfort”, Building Research & Information, 36(4): 323-336
  • Holden, M., Elverum D., Nesbit, S., Robinson, J., Yen, D., Moore, J. (2008) “Learning Teaching in the Sustainability Classroom”, Ecological Economics, 64: 521-533
  • Robinson, J. (2008) “Being Undisciplined: Some Transgressions and Intersection in Academia and Beyond”, Futures, 40(1): 70-86
  • Burch, S., Robinson, J. (2007) “A framework for explaining the links between capacity and action in response to global climate change”, Climate Policy, 7: 304-316
  • Bizikova, L., Robinson, J., Cohen S. (2007) “Linking climate change and sustainable development at the local level”, Climate Policy, 7: 271-277
  • Winkler, H., Baumert, K., Blanchard, O., Burch, S., Robinson, J. (2007) “What factors influence mitigative capacity?”, Energy Policy, 35: 692-703
  • Roberts, K., Robinson, J. (2007) “Characterization and sustainability assessment of Canada’s Hydrogen Highway”, International Journal of Energy Research, 31: 329-345
  • Robinson, J., Carmichael, J., VanWynsberghe, R., Tansey, J., Journeay, M., Rogers, L. (2006) “Sustainability as a Problem of Design: Interactive Science in the Georgia Basin”, Special issue on Interactive Sustainability, The Integrated Assessment Journal, 6(4): 165-192
  • Robinson, J., Tansey, J. (2006) “Co-Production, emergent properties and strong interactive social research: The Georgia Basin Futures Project”, Science and Public Policy, 33(2): 151-160
  • Robinson, J., Bradley, M., Busby, P., Connor, D., Murray, A., Sampson, B., and Soper, W. (2006) “Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Realizing the Opportunity”, Ambio, 35(1): 2-9
  • Moore, J., Pagani, F., Quayle, M., Robinson, J., Sawada, B., Spiegelman, G., VanWynsberghe, R. (2005) “Recreating the university from within: Collaborative reflections on the University of British Columbia’s engagement with sustainability”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 6(1): 65-80
  • Shaw, A., Robinson, J. (2004) “Relevant but not Prescriptive: Science Policy Models within the IPCC”, Philosophy Today 48 (5/5) Supplement: Toward a Philosophy of Science Policy: Approaches and Issues 84-95
  • Swart, R.J., Raskin, P., Robinson, J. (2004) “The Problem of the Future: Sustainability Science and Scenario Analysis. Global Environmental Change” 14(2): 137-146;
  • Swart, R., Raskin, P., Robinson, J. (2004) “Critical Challenges for Sustainability Science”, Science, 297
  • Carmichael, J., Tansey, J., Robinson, J. (2004) “An Integrated Assessment Modeling Tool”, Global Environmental Change, 14: 171-183
  • Robinson, J. (2004) “Squaring the Circle: Some thoughts on the idea of sustainable development”, Ecological Economics, 48(4): 369-384
  • Swart, R., Robinson, J., Cohen, S. (2003) “Climate change and sustainable development: expanding the options”, Climate Policy, 3(1): S19-S40
  • Robinson, J. (2003) “Future Subjunctive: Backcasting as Social Learning”, Futures, 35(8): 839-856
  • Tansey, J., Carmichael, J., VanWynsberghe, R., Robinson, J. (2002) “The Future is not what it Used to Be: Participatory Integrated Assessment in the Georgia Basin”, Global Environmental Change, 12(2): 97-104
  • Robinson, J. & Herbert, D. (2001) “Integrating Climate Change and Sustainable Development”, International Journal of Global Environmental Issues, 1(2): 130-148
  • Robinson, J., & Cohen, S. (2000) “Climate-change analysis has been changing too”, Nature, 406(6791): 13
  • Morita, T., Nakicenovic, N., Robinson, J. (2000) “Overview of mitigation scenarios for global climate stabilization based on new IPCC emission scenarios (SRES)”, Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, 3(2): 65-88
  • Cohen, S., Demeritt, D., Robinson, J., Rothman, D. (1998) “Climate Change and Sustainable Development:  Towards Dialogue”, Global Environmental Change, 8(4): 341-371
  • Robinson, J., Rothman, D. (1997) “Growing Pains:  A Conceptual Framework for Considering Integrated Assessments”, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 46: 23-43
  • Hourcade, J-C., Robinson, J. (1996) “Mitigating Factors:  Assessing the Costs of Reducing GHG Emission”,  Energy Policy, 24(10/11): 863-873
  • Amatya, V.B., Chandrashekar, M., Robinson, J. (1993) “Residential sector energy-supply-demand analysis: A modelling approach for developing countries and fuelwood-supply sustainability in Nepal”, Energy, 18(4): 341-354.
  • Van Bers, C., Robinson, J. (1993) “Farming in 2031: A Scenario of Sustainable Agriculture in Canada”, Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 4(1)
  • Gardner, D., Robinson, J. (1993) “Analyzing Energy Use – A Conceptual Framework”, Energy Studies Review, 5(1): 1-13
  • Robinson, J. (1992) “Risks, Predictions and other Optical Illusions: Rethinking the Use of Science in Social Decision-Making”, Policy Sciences, 25: 237-254
  • Robinson J. (1992) “Of Maps and Territories:  The Use and Abuse of Socio-Economic Modelling in Support of Decision-Making”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 42(4): 147-164
  • Pokharel, S., Chandrashekar, M., Robinson, J. (1992) “Interfuel and Intermode Substitution for Cooking”, Energy – The International Journal, 17(10): 907-918
  • Pokharel, S., Chandrashekar, M., Robinson, J. (1991) “Biogas Potential and Implementation Issues in Nepal”,  Journal of Engineering for International Development, 1(1): 45-56
  • Robinson, J. (1991) Modelling The Interactions Between Human and Natural Systems”, International Social Sciences Journal, 130: 629-647
  • Robinson, J. (1991) “The Proof of the Pudding:  Policy and Implementation Issues Associated with Increasing Energy Efficiency”, Energy Policy,  19(7): 631-645
  • Robinson, J., Francis, G., Lerner, S., Gibson, R., Legge, R. (1990) “Defining A Sustainable Society:  Values, Principles and Definitions”, Alternatives, 17(2): 36-46.
  • Robinson, J. (1990) “Futures Under Glass: A Recipe for People Who Hate to Predict”, Futures, 22(9): 820 – 843
  • Robinson, J. (1990) “Decarbonating Energy Systems: The Potential for Reducing CO2 Emissions Through Reduced Energy Intensity in Canada”, Energy Studies Review, 2(1): 1-18
  • Robinson, J. (1989) “Comments in Response to William Ascher’s ‘Beyond Accuracy’”, International Journal of Forecasting, 5: 485-489
  • Robinson, J. (1988) “Unlearning and Backcasting: Rethinking Some of the Questions We Ask About the Future”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 33(4): 325-338
  • Robinson, J. (1988) “Loaded Questions: New Approaches to Utility Forecasting”, Energy Policy, 16(1): 58-68
  • Robinson, J. (1987) “An Embarrassment of Riches: Canada’s Energy Supply Resources”, Energy – The International Journal , 12(5): 397-402
  • Robinson, J. (1987) “Insurmountable Opportunities? Canada’s Energy Demand Resources”, Energy – The International Journal , 12(5):403-417
  • Robinson, J. et al. (1985) “Determining the Long-Run Potential for Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy in Canada”, Energy – The International Journal,  10(6): 689-705
  • Robinson, J. (1983) “Macrocosm and Microcosm: An Exploration of the Perceived Alchemical Environment”, Environments, 15(3): 1-15
  • Robinson, J. (1983) “Pendulum Policy: Natural Gas Forecasts and Canadian Energy Policy, 1969-81”, Canadian Journal of Political Science, XVI (2): 299-319
  • Robinson, J. (1982) “Apples and Horned Toads: On the Framework- Determined Nature of the Energy Debate”, Policy Sciences, 15: 23-45
  • Robinson, J. (1982) “Bottom-Up Methods and Low-Down Results: Changes in the Estimation of Future Energy Demands”, Energy – The International Journal, 7(7): 627-35
  • Robinson, J. (1982) “Energy Backcasting: A Proposed Method of Policy Analysis”, Energy Policy, 10(4) 337-45
  • Robinson, J. (1982) “Backing into the Future: On the Methodological and Institutional Biases Embedded in Energy Supply and Demand Forecasting”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 21(3): 229-40