The collaborators of the Institute of Geography and Sustainability undertake researche in six principal broad thematic fields:
- the cultures and natures of tourism research group carries out research on the multiple dimensions of tourism in human societies, both as object of research as such and as a means for the observation of various social phenomena. Tourism is not only an research object that can be isolated in order to be analyzed. It also reveals multiple societal phenomena such as individual and collective identity, urbanity imagination, bio-physical resources, politics, economics, mobility, etc. The tourist gazes on these different social realities and the way in which tourists are mobilizing them in their practices are essential to understand the changing cultures and natures of tourism over time;
- the development, societies, environments research group studies development projects and processes, their actors and practices, as well as the related discourses and values, in view of their contributions to improved socioeconomic and environmental living conditions. Current research is structured around three interrelated axes: (1) natural resource management/politics; (2) multilevel environmental governance; (3) urban and rural transformations. This research group puts emphasis on theoretical and practical approaches grounded in fieldwork, mostly in countries of the global South, and developed in collaboration with non-academic organizations;
- the research group on environmental humanities studies the sustainability and is connected with the ecological thought whose two original features are the assertion of limits to the material growth and the criticism of the anthropocentrism. They relate to various aspects of the ecological transition: the political institutions (ecological democracy, ecology policy), the environment ethics and values, legal aspects (precautionary principle), lifestyles and economic dimensions (dematerialization, circular economy and of functionality, parallel currencies, economic anthropology, epistemology of the ecological economy); to what the history of the ecological thought is added;
- the Geographical Information Sciences (GISc) gather the disciplines and fields of application which study, develop and use the methods and techniques of acquisition, treatment, analysis and visualization of geographical information. The geographical information sciences largely exceed the framework of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) by integrating fields such as spatial statistics, modeling and simulation of spatial and spatial-temporal phenomena, management of large spatial databases, network analysis or interactive and dynamic visualization. At the Institute of Geography and Sustainability, research in GISc currently covers the following fields: cartography and visualization; modeling and simulation in particular for self-organized complex systems; and data analysis.
- the urban studies group works on the processes of metropolisation, urban morphology, transport and mobility, the urban social dynamics, the sustainable urban and regional development, the regional planning and the urban policies, public space and the emergent practices related to the NTIC, the cities systems and the globalization networks, the cities in the developing countries, the political ecology and the urban governances, the urban project and strategic planning;
- the research group on water and geoheritage studies two sets of themes under an interdisciplinary angle: the management of water resources, at the same time from a proactive point of view (anticipation of the future water requirements) as well as of governance; the management of geoheritage, as much from the methodological point of view as of their insertion in broader territorial issues. The research group studies also geomorphological mapping and mountain geomorphological processes.