SHOCK (not) Horror

September 2011 to November 2013

Prof Stephanie Glendinning, Newcastle University

Aim: The hypothesis of the research is that the study of infrastructure shocks through medical allegories will enable a fundamental shift in thinking of current infrastructure to understanding it as a system of systems of infrastructural interconnections that can help foster sustainable futures. The aim is to understand trauma as a lever to unlock higher and more impactful levels of intervention across integrated infrastructure systems.


  • To produce a synthesis of medical knowledge and infrastructure knowledge to construct allegories of systems under trauma;
  • To use these allegories to develop models of the socio-technical configuration of infrastructure systems of systems which represent the interests and priorities of relevant stakeholders;
  • To evolve a repertoire of shock through using the allegories to critically analyse existing socio-technical models of infrastructure systems and identify system intervention points that differentiate between higher level and lower level interventions within industry practice;
  • Using the repertoire of shock to develop learning experiments to enable creative thinking for organizational change in responding to unsustainability; and
  • To develop a research agenda aimed at realizing the potential of shocks as vehicles of transformation, including designs for infrastructure monitoring schemes, urban laboratory experiments and education and training programmes.
  • Castán Broto, V. & Dewberry, E. 2013. Crisis and urban infrastructure in Spain: social learning, degrowth and socio-technical transitions, Urban Studies/Urban Studies Foundation Conference Interrogating Urban Crisis: Governance, Contestation and Critique, 9th-11th September, De Monfort University, Leicester.
  • Dewberry, E., Castán Broto, V., Glendinning, S., Walsh, C.L. & Powell, M. 2013. Looking through the lens of shock: exploring opportunities for learning and innovation for adaptable infrastructure. Sustainable Innovation 18th International Conference 4-5 November 2013, Epson, UK.
  • Walsh, C.L., Glendinning, S., Dewberry, E; Castán Broto, V. & Powell, M. 2013. Adaptive, integrated infrastructure: creating new learning in response to system shocks. Sustainable built environment for now and the future, 26–27 March 2013, Hanoi, Vietnam.
  • Castán Broto, V., Glendinning, S., Dewberry, E., Walsh, C.L. & Powell, M. What can we learn about transitions for sustainability from infrastructure shocks? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, in press.
  • Walsh, C.L., Glendinning, S., Dawson, R.J., England, K., Martin, M., Watkins, C.L., Wilson, R., Glenis, V., McLoughlin, A. & Parker, D. 2013. Collaborative platform to facilitate engineering decision-making. Engineering Sustainability 166, ES2, 98–107.
  • Walsh, C.L., Glendinning, S., Dewberry, E; Castán Broto, V. & Powell, M. Learning from shocks to infrastructure systems. Journal of Critical Infrastructure Systems, in review.