Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SUSPLACE Report Summary

Project ID: 674962
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SUSPLACE (SUSPLACE)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Global forces of modernisation have led to more uniform places, an erosion of culture, marginalization of groups and uneven development – enhanced by developments in markets, technology and governance. As a consequence places have lost their distinctiveness, their reality and significance. This has resulted in a loss of sense of place, the ‘erasure of place’, of non-places or ‘placelessness’.

People can however not be reduced to being mere victims of the global restructuration processes. They do have agency, not as a defensive response, but as pro-active agents of change. They are engaged and tirelessly work to construct and reconstruct - to shape and reshape - the physical, socio-economic, cultural and political dimensions of the places they live in. Actors reshape places by meaningful practices embedded in social-ecological systems and place-based assets. Their capacities to actively and deliberately transform their places into more sustainable places are explored in the SUSPLACE project.

This has wider societal relevance, also in the context of the European 2020 goals of sustainable, inclusive and smart growth because:
1) The spatially different effects of globalisation lead to ‘territories of difference’ creating inequalities, exclusion and all sorts of dispersed and unevenly distributed issues of sustainability in the fields of food, energy and climate, poverty and migration, intertwined and unfolding in places.
2) Places are relevant for our sense of place and belonging. Subjective perceptions, attachment, sense-making, the construction of narratives and place identities are key elements in a place-based approach. Especially (cultural) geographers have emphasized this point “as place remains fundamentally important to our sense of identity, our sense of community and our humanity” .
3) Places can be considered as arenas of debates on land-use and -functions, encompassing power struggles and negotiations, but also innovative types of people’s agency, self-efficacy, alliances and forms of self-organisation.

The overall aim of the Marie Curie ITN programme SUSPLACE is to train 15 Early Stage Researchers in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to study sustainable place-shaping practices.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

SUSPLACE started in October 2015. The recruitment process was completed within six months and 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) with were appointed April 1, 2016 at the host institutes. A communication strategy was developed and implemented, with theSUSPLACE website as a virtual platform with project information and blogs posted by ESR. The ESR produced a video about SUSPLACE that will be published soon. All ESR completed their Research Design within 10 months and started since with fieldwork. Most ESR are finalizing their first article for submission to a scientific journal.

A joint Research Training & Networking (RTN) Session each planned each half year. Four have been completed so far. These Joint RTN Sessions have two components:
a) a SUSPLACE Seminar of 2-3 days, in which ESR and supervisors discuss individual progress made and overall issues regarding a common theoretical framework, methodologies, joint outcomes, communication and dissemination, (potential) impact;
b) SUSPLACE Training of 5-7 days, during which basic and advanced courses or training have been offered by both academic and non-academic partners and visiting scientists.

Non-academic partners are actively involved in providing training in professional skills. RHDHV facilitates a creative process in realizing joint output and impact supported by an online tool.

Scientific impact has been enhanced via SUSPLACE seminars at the hosting institutes; the participation of ESR and staff in various conferences (e.g. the UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference (Cardiff, 2016); the GEN-network conference in Arterra Bizimodu (Spain, July 2016); the British Environmental Psychology Society conference on healthy and sustainable places in Surrey (2016, UK); the European Society for Rural Sociology conference (Krakow, 2017); the Transformations to Sustainability (Dundee, 2017); the World Circular Economy Forum (Helsinki, 2017); the De-growth conference (Budapest, 2016). Preliminary findings have been communicated via blogs at the SUSPLACE website, presentations, videos, posters, and workshops. A team of ESR and supervisors organised and facilitated a workshop 'Arts-based Methods for Transformative design' at the Transformation 2017 conference at the University of Dundee.

Other public events:
1) Debate between Terry Marsden and Susan Baker of Cardiff University and Matthew Quinn of the Welsh Government about sustainable place-making;
2) ESR Omer Husain has participated in a Joint Event ‘Spotlight on Blockchain’, between STOA (European Parliament) & DG CONNECT (European Commission);
3) Induction week about co-production with ESR and Welsh stakeholders in 2017, aimed at developing a platform to support change-makers working across Wales, organized the Sustainable Places Research Institute and Welsh Government.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

- Insights in the role of (inter)subjectivity - mindsets, motivations, attitudes, sense of place, values - in place-shaping processes
- Development of a toolkit with methods to facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration for practitioners. This includes new innovative art-based methods
- Showcases of sustainable place-shaping which support transformative change
- Strategies to increase people's capacities in places, supporting their autonomy and self-efficacy
- Conditions for place-based development, resulting from processes of 1) re-appreciation of places 3) regrounding of practices in place-based assets) re-positioning resulting in new products/markets
- Insights how institutions may have to be reorganized so they become more sensitive to place conditions, supportive and nurturing of growth in local capacity, and able to respond to the many opportunities emerging from local initiatives

- Involvement of stakeholders in a variety of place-shaping cases and practices in Europe, supported by action-based research and facilitated by researchers.
- Increased and long-term involvement of non-academic public and private organisations in sustainable place-shaping thus creating interfaces between knowledge institutes, policy and practitioners
- An increasing group of people working as place ambassadors supporting the attractiveness of their place for visitors and supporting socio-economic impact.
- Involvement of artists in multi-stakeholder settings and community development, capable of mobilizing people, supporting out-of-the box solutions and visualizing potential future pathways.
- Provision of diverse pathways for sustainable transformation in different institutional and cultural contexts.
- Effective collaboration in places between stakeholders by providing them with a toolkit for practitioners, which has been tested in practice.
- Effective communication & dissemination towards different target groups via 1) Marie Curie Ambassadors 2) Public, Policy and Educational events 3) Scientific workshops and presentations during conferences.

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