CORDIS - EU research results

Co-production of seasonal representations for adaptive institutions

Project description

Getting back in touch with the changing seasons

Rapid climatic, natural and social changes are throwing seasonal representations out of sync with the weather. For instance, a ‘white Christmas’ is now a distant memory in many parts of the world. This is just one example of seasonal representations, which can take different forms like stories, images, experiences, scientific forecasts, natural signs, proverbs or practices. The EU-funded CALENDARS project will explore how climate change might be undermining the ideas or representations of seasons as we know them. The hypothesis is that people cannot adapt well to the changing seasons if they live according to outdated and inaccurate ideas of seasons. This is important considering that all our institutions – from schools to hospitals and government to sports clubs – schedule activities based on different seasonal representations.


Climate change may be undermining the stock of seasonal representations that society draws on to understand and live according to the weather. The CALENDARS project studies how modern society represents seasons, and how these representations shape institutions and help people live with seasonal change. The project opens an important emerging field in climate adaptation research by examining the representations of ‘normal’ seasons underlying key institutions, assesses their quality for successful adaptation to rapid climate change, and analyses facilitators and barriers to adopting representations more flexibly to new climates. It contributes a novel perspective on how to transform our institutions – from schools to farmer cooperatives – from the foundational culture and representations up, to better fit the changing seasonal cycles we are experiencing.

CALENDARS empirically explores the relationship between different institutions’ ideas of seasons and their successful adaptation through an in-depth comparative study of a set of institutions in two local communities, in Norway and New Zealand. It is steered by an overall objective to: ‘Advance knowledge and understanding of how seasonal representations shape and are shaped by institutions, and critically appraise the quality of these representations for contributing to successful adaptation to seasonal change’.

Conceptually, CALENDARS looks at representations as continuously ‘co-produced’ at the boundary of nature and society, and society and institutions. It tests a novel reconceptualisation of co-production as a prism; with each of the project’s three phases looking at the complex processes by which representations emerge through different ‘lenses’ of co-production. Methodologically, the project tests the feasibility of a novel basket of bespoke methods spanning narrative interviews, calendar boundary objects and collaborative sustainability science.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 084 021,00
5020 Bergen

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Norge Vestlandet Vestland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 084 021,00

Beneficiaries (2)