History of the USJ

The Urban Studies journal (USJ), for which the USF is a parent, was founded in 1963 with the first issue appearing in May, 1964. As  I noted in an editorial for the journal on its 50th anniversary in 2013, it originated with the creation of what was then an innovative research department in the University of Glasgow – the Department of Social and Economic Research. Since those early days, when it largely focused on urban and regional policy within a UK context, the journal has now become a leading outlet for truly global inter-disciplinary urban and regional research (a shift already occurring before the end of the 1960s), while also undergoing significant changes at the level of constitution and governance. Reflecting its origins as a research centre with a distinct policy orientation – and the geographically narrower world in which much urban research was then conducted and often disseminated – the initial Editorial Advisory Committee (sixteen individuals) were all from the UK with more than a third of the non-editorial members from policy research or urban practitioner worlds. By 2013, however, a then recently revised editorial committee structure comprised a total of twenty-five individuals, the majority of whom were drawn from beyond the UK, with none of them employed directly in a practitioner environment. These changes attest to the way that urban research and debates within the journal have become increasingly globalised on the one hand, and more critical in relation to urban policy on the other.

In its constitution, the journal was formed as a limited company in January 2007. The current structure of the Board is comprised of four Managing Editors (MEs), with each taking turns as Editor in Chief (EiC) on an annual basis. In 2005, the four MEs were Ronan Paddison, Andrew Cumbers, Ken Gibb and Jon Bannister. Ken Gibb stepped down in December 2012 and was replaced by Tony O’Sullivan in January 2013. Ronan Paddison is the current EiC. In addition there are three Editors (Danny MacKinnon, Chris Leishman, Mark Stephens); one Reviews Editor (currently being advertised); three North American Editors (Andrejs Skaburskis, Michael Timberlake, Jenny Schuetz); a Chinese Editor (Shenjing He); a Global South Editor (Vanessa Watson) and fifteen Corresponding Editors (Manuel B. Aalbers, Mona Abaza, Judit Bodnár, Robert Cervero, Kate D. Derickson, Brendan Gleeson, Anne Haila, Lily Kong, Charlotte Lemanski, Zhigang Li, Eugene McCann, Geoffrey Peter Meen, Sue Parnell, Yong Tu and Gavin A. Wood). The USJ Editors are ably supported by the journal administrators: Marion Baltzer, Ruth Harkin and Lindsey J. Towers.

It should be underlined here that, while the USF is legally ‘the parent’ of the USJ – with USF Trustees having oversight of USJ polices, procedure and overall well-being – in practice the USF delegates all operational practice and strategic decision-making (as well as personnel decisions) to the Managing Editors of the journal. A close relationship of trust and reciprocity has hence been the hallmark of relations between the USF and the USJ, and the intention is that this relationship should continue on this footing even given the substantial governance changes to the USF completed in 2015 (an element of which was precisely to clarify and disentangle certain aspects of the governance of both bodies). Whereas previously all four Managing Directors of the USJ were Trustees of the USF, from 2016 only the Editor-in-Chief will occupy such a role – and from 2017 it is proposed that s/he will cease to be a full Trustee but rather a non-voting attendee at Board meetings reporting on and discussing journal business (as well as presenting the annual USJ business plan).

Ronan Paddison, 2016

Former Editor-in-Chief (EiC) of the Urban Studies journal.