The Urban and Regional Change and Policies Research Group (ZOE) brings together researchers with interests and expertise in three major thematic fields of geography: (i) urban and regional dynamics, both in their specific contexts and in relation with global trends; (ii) strategies and policies for urban and regional development, from a socioeconomic and cultural perspective and with a focus on knowledge, innovation and creativity; (iii) the debate on geographical thought, cartography and geo-literacy in Portugal. ZOE brings together the assets, in terms of knowledge, methodologies and human resources, of three of CEG’s former research teams: NETURB – Urban Studies; NEST-Territorial Strategies and Policies; and HEGEC – Geographical Thought and Cartography. The joint organization of the three teams of researchers into the ZOE group was the answer deemed most adequate to meet the challenges that we presently face, at both the national and international levels, especially through the expected gains in terms of scientific productivity and management efficiency. In this respect, it is important to stress that the aggregation of these three research units has the following positive implications:
a) With regard to fundamental research, it contributes to the enrichment of the theoretical and methodological debate, mainly through the broadening of viewpoints and perspectives, the enlargement of geographical scope, and the increase in thematic diversity and integration.
b) At the level of applied research, the aggregation of the three teams ensures a better response to the community’s challenges and needs, by way of a more integrated perspective that links, for example, urban change (such as urban regeneration and socio-spatial justice) with the strategies and policies of regional and urban development (actors, networks, innovation, cooperation, resilience, etc.).
c) In terms of advanced training and learning, the aggregation of these three teams introduces greater efficiency in the coordination of graduate courses of the 2nd and 3rd cycle programmes, and improves the quality of student support. Significant gains are also obtained in terms of the integration and complementarity of contents, methods and learning experiences offered to students. Finally, this aggregation enables the expansion of the critical mass of students enrolled in advanced training programs, which greatly contributes to the creation of a learning environment that fosters debate, creativity and innovation.