Research Focus

Our research focusses on the institutions – understood as the “rules of the game” – and how they impact environmental uses: 

(1) How and why are resources (e.g. urban land, housing, alpine foodscapes, scenic landscape) regulated? 
(2) Which strategies do actors develop to secure their access to resources? 
(3) Which institutions can contribute to strong sustainability? 

Over the years we have contributed to the development of a specific analytical framework, the Institutional Resource Regime (IRR) framework (e.g. Gerber et al. 2020).

After 20 years of existence and continuous development, the IRR framework has been established as an important supplement to existing (neo)institutional approaches focusing on the management of natural and human-made resources.

Ongoing Projects –


Research Question
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Governing densification. Comparison of densification projects from Switzerland and the Netherlands to take lessons from practical examples on how to steer densification towards sustainability. Under which circumstances can spatial planning effectively achieve densification while retaining urban quality for all?  project page

Spatial Understanding of the care gap

Habilitation project  Dr. Deniz Ay

 The mitigation of the care gap through densification by socially sustainable residential arrangements in urban settlements. How does the densification of residents and uses affect the demand and the supply for care provision: What are the institutions, actors, and formal and informal arrangements that determine the relationship between the care gap and densification? - project description

- more about Dr. Deniz Ay


Commonification: Transition pathways for urban sustainability.
How do processes of creating new commons influence urban sustainability by providing new solutions beyond market and state inabilities? - project page

- Interview with Jean-David Gerber (principal investigator)


The potential of collective tenure in agricultural investments for gender equality. Under what conditions and mechanisms can arrangements of collective tenure contribute to gender equality and better distributive outcomes for all resource claimants? project page


Self-organised forms of evaluating, managing, sharing and selling food in Peru and Switzerland. How do collectively self-organized farmers reconcile the tension between the monetary valuation of food and the multiple contributions of food and agriculture to society and the environment? project description

Current Publications –

Agyekum, Samuel; Awuh, Harrison Esam (2024). Striving for just sustainabilities in urban foodscape planning: the case of Almere city in the Netherlands. Local Environment Taylor & Francis 10.1080/13549839.2024.2353050

Verheij, Jessica; Gerber, Jean-David; Nahrath, Stéphane (2024). Commoning the compact city: The role of old and new commons in urban development. Geoforum, 152 Elsevier 10.1016/j.geoforum.2024.104019

Bouwmeester, Josje (Mai 2024). The right of the strongest? Property rights of small landowners in densification projects (Unveröffentlicht). In: 18th Annual Planning, Law, and Property Rights Conference. Munich, Germany. 18-22 May 2024.

Ay, Deniz; Verheij, Jessica (21 März 2024). Decommodification of housing and commoning care: Potential of collective property in mitigating the care gap (Unveröffentlicht). In: PLPR 2024 (International Association of Planning Law and Property Rights), Annual Conference. Munich, Germany. March 21, 2024.

Awuh, Harrison Esam; Agyekum, Samuel (Hg.) (2024). Geographies of Food: Global visions of healthy and unhealthy food [Lehrbuch (Sammelwerk)] . Cham: Springer 10.1007/978-3-031-49873-2