As a Lead Editor, I am working on the special issue Sound and the Healthy City for the Cities & Health Journal published by Routledge, along with a great team of amazing scholars.
The call for contributions is open until 15 November 2018 and it is available on the official webpage of the journal. Full Instructions for Authors can be found on the Cities & Health website.
Following you can read an excerpt of the call for contributions.
The United Nations estimates that 55 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities. Projections reveal a rise of 60 percent by 2030, whereby one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants. Cities and human health are interconnected and, unfortunately, urban population growth is having a detrimental effect on mental, physical, and social health, as well as on aspects of social and environmental justice.
Although noise pollution is the second most common environmental stressor (after air pollution) that affects our health, well-being, and quality of life, the negative impacts of noise are often overlooked in policy and practice. For instance, noise is not directly addressed by the otherwise comprehensive UN Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, noise from road traffic affects over 125 million people in Europe every year, causing health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, hypertension and annoyance, potentially leading to premature death. The detrimental effects of noise on human health also incur a high cost to society when the global cost of hearing loss and related interventions is estimated to be between 750 and 790 billion international dollars. Thus, taking action against noise pollution is imperative.
The 2002 Environmental Noise Directive was adopted with the aim of establishing a common approach to avoid, prevent, and reduce noise pollution among the Member States based upon quantitative measurements, such as “noise indicators,” “noise maps,” and “action plans”. Furthermore, a scan of interdisciplinary bodies of literature highlights that the majority of approaches developed to address this issue are also based on quantitative indicators (e.g., acoustical indices) and that a typical strategy is to apply anti-noise mechanisms to noise sources. However, a number of soundscape studies have argued that quantitative methods only partially address the complex nature of noise pollution. Noise and sound can be indeed ambivalent concepts because they are simultaneously objective and subjective in nature. To address their subjective characteristics, effective implementation demands the integration of qualitative approaches, similar to the soundscape approach, as suggested by the European Environment Agency.
According to the soundscape approach, in the same way that health cannot be defined as “merely the absence of disease” – a phrase taken from the 1948 constitution of the World Health Organization – the mere absence of noise is not sufficient to ensure a good sonic environment for our physical and mental health, and social well-being. Indeed, for most people sound is fundamental to our living in the world, complementing our other senses. Most commonly, we communicate and orientate ourselves through sound, and are moved emotionally, both consciously and unconsciously, by sound. The soundscape approach proposes a shift in mindset that requires not only the study of the negative effects of noise pollution but also the investigation of the positive effects of the sonic environment on people’s health and quality of life. This is in accordance with the definition of soundscape as an “acoustic environment as perceived, experienced, and/or understood by people, in context”, provided by the inherited ISO norm. Therefore, for healthy place-making to occur, people ought to be at the heart of the process, participating in analyzing, evaluating and planning the soundscapes of the urban fabric.
While the number of studies addressing concepts like urban quietness, tranquility, and restoration has been increasing in recent years, scholarships mainly focus on investigating the negative effects of noise. This has created a gap in literature concerning the positive effects of the sonic environment on human mental and physical health, social well-being, and on how to create optimal soundscapes. To this end, the aim of this special issue is to help fill this gap by calling for original contributions that address the topic of city sounds and health from either or both the anti-noise and soundscape perspectives.
Trans-disciplinary and trans-sectorial contributions might revolve around, but are not limited to, the following themes:
We hope that this special issue will bolster the interest of academics, artists, practitioners, city makers, and other officials in its communication that noise has to be considered a healthy issue and the sonic urban environment needs to be a curated common in our society – a cultural and natural resource accessible to all and co-governed by its user community.
We invite a range of submissions, including original scholarship, descriptive case studies, travelogues, audio papers, city shorts, commentary and debate and reviews.
2018 – ON