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
School of the Environment
The Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

Contact Information:

Phone: 416.918.7977
Office: Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Pl., Rm. 258S

Personal Website:

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 cities
  • The role of the university in contributing to sustainability
  • Creating partnerships for sustainability with non-academic partners
  • The intersection of sustainability, social and technological change, behaviour change, and community engagement processes.

Call For Students:

The areas I am interested in are: Sustainable building design and operation – with a focus on the behavioural interface: building/inhabitant hybrids; The potential to create processes and activities that are net positive in biophysical and human terms at the building or urban scale; Tools and processes for community engagement around sustainable futures; Methods and theories of transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge; Transformative sociotechnical and cultural change at the urban scale; History and philosophy of environmental thought; The role of the university as living lab and agent of change for sustainability.

Selected Publications:

Refereed Articles

  • Coleman S. and Robinson, J. 2018. “Introducing the qualitative performance gap: stories about a sustainable building”, Building Research & Information, 46(5), 485-500.
  • Potvin C, Sharma D, Creed I, Aitken S, Anctil F, Bennett E, Berkes F, Bernstein S, Bleau N, Bourque A, Brown B, Burch S, Byrne J, Cunsolo A, Dale A, de Lange D, Dyck B, Entz M, Etcheverry J, Faucher R, Fenech A, Fraser L, Henriques I, Heyland A, Hoffmann M, Hoberg G, Holden M, Huang G, Jacob AL, Jodoin S, Kemper A, Lucotte M, Maranger R, Margolis L, Mauro I, McDonnell J, Meadowcroft J, Messier C, Mkandawire M, Morency C, Mousseau N, Oakes K, Otto S, Palmater P, Palmer TS, Paquin D, Perl A, Potvin A, Ramos H, Raudsepp-Hearne C, Richards N, Robinson J, Sheppard S, Simard S, Sinclair BJ, Slawinski N, Stoddart M, Villard M-A, Villeneuve C, and Wright T. 2017. Stimulating a Canadian narrative for climate. FACETS 2: 131–149.
  • Bendor, R., Maggs, D., Peake, R., Robinson, J., and Williams, S. 2017. “The imaginary worlds of sustainability: observations from an interactive art installation”, Ecology and Society 22(2):17.
  • Maggs, D. and Robinson, J. (2016) “Recalibrating the Anthropocene: Sustainability in an Imaginary World”, Environmental Philosophy, 13(2), 175-194.
  • Munro, A., Marcus, J., Wahl, J., Dolling, K., Robinson, J. (2016) “Combining Forces: Fostering Sustainability Collaboration between the City of Vancouver and The University of British Columbia”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 17(6), 812-826.
  • Robinson, J. and Cole, R. (2015) Theoretical underpinnings of regenerative sustainability, Building Research & Information, 43(2), 133-143.
  • Fedoruk, L., Cole, R., Robinson, J., Cayuela, A. (2015) “Learning from failure: understanding the anticipated-achieved building energy performance gap”, Building Research & Information, 43(6): 750-763.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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

Book Chapters

  • Dale, A., Burch, S. Robinson, J. and Strashok, C., “Multilevel Governance of Sustainability Transitions in Canada: Policy Alignment, Innovation, and Evaluation”, in Hughes, S., Chu, E.K. and Mason, S.G., eds. (2018) Climate Change in Cities. New York: Springer.
  • Holden, M., Robinson, J., and Sheppard, S. (2016) “From Resilience to transformation via a regenerative sustainability development path”, in Yoshiki Yamagata, Y. and Maruyama, H, eds., Urban Resilience – A Transformative Approach, Springer.
  • Cole, R., Robinson, J., and Westerhoff, L. (2016) “Regenerative Sustainability: Rethinking Neighborhood Sustainability”, in Moore, S. ed, Pragmatic Sustainability: Theoretical and Practical Tools. 2nd edition. London: Routledge.
  • Burch, S., Shaw, A., Kristensen, F., Robinson, J., and Dale, A. (2015) Urban Climate Governance through a Sustainability Lens: Exploring the Integration of Adaptation and Mitigation in Four British Columbian Cities, in Johnson, C., Toly, N., and Schroeder, H. (eds.) The Urban Climate Challenge: Rethinking the Role of Cities in the Global Climate Regime, London: Routledge.
  • Antle, A.N., Tanenbaum, J., Macaranas, A. and Robinson, J. (2014) Games for change: Looking at models of persuasion through the lens of design. In Nijholt, A. ed. Playful User Interfaces: Interfaces that Invite Social and Physical Interaction, Singapore: Springer.
  • Robinson, J., (2013) How to Change the World. (Wong, E., Wong J., Habacon, A.E., eds). SPARK: The inspiring Life and Legacy of Milton K. Wong, Vancouver, Canada: Greystone Books.
  • Cayuela, A., Robinson, J., Campbell, A., Coops, N., Munro, A. (2013) Integration of Operational and Academic Efforts in Sustainability at the University of British Columbia in Sandra Caeiro, Walter Leal Filho, Charbel Jabbour, Ulisses M. Azeiteiro, eds., Sustainability Assessment Tools in Higher Education Institutions – Mapping Trends and Good Practices Around the World, Berlin, Germany: Springer.
  • Robinson, J., Berkhout, T., Cayuela, A., Campbell, A. (2013). Next Generation Sustainability at The University of British Columbia: The University as Societal Test-Bed for Sustainability. Ariane Konig, ed., Regenerative sustainable development of universities and cities: the role of living laboratories. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Bizikova, L., Burch, S., Robinson, J., Shaw, A., Sheppard, S. (2011). Utilizing participatory scenario-based approaches to design proactive responses to climate change in the face of uncertainties. (Feichter, J., Gramelsberger, G., eds.) Climate Change and Policy: The Calculability of Climate Change and the Challenge of Uncertainty, Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Cole, R., Robinson, J., Brown, Z., O’Shea, M. (2010) “Re-contextualizing the notion of comfort”, in Shove, E., Chappells, H. and Lutzenhiser, L. eds. Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society. London: Routledge.
  • Bizikova, L., Burch, S., Cohen, S., Robinson, J. (2010) A Participatory Integrated Assessment Approach to Local Climate Change Responses: Linking Sustainable Development with Climate Change Adaptation & Mitigation. (O’Brien, K., Kristoffersen, B. and St. Clair, A., eds.) Climate Change, Ethics and Human Security, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 157-179.
  • Robinson, J., (2010) On Beyond Zebra: Being Undisciplined in Support of Sustainability. The Trudeau Foundation Papers, Volume II, Montreal: The Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, pp. 96-129.