RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

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370 Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures (3)
Convenor(s) Anne Schiffer (Leeds Beckett University, UK)
Mary Greene (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)
Chair(s) Anne Schiffer (Leeds Beckett University, UK)
Timetable Friday 30 August 2019, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Skempton Building, Room 307
Session abstract It is increasingly recognised that addressing complex sustainability challenges requires collaboration with a diverse range of social actors. In the context of growing emphasis on research impact and social engagement (Morris et al., 2017), social sciences and the humanities are paying increasing attention to community-based research and practical applications thereof. Simultaneously, academics are facing mounting pressures associated with neoliberalisation of education and research institutions.

Geographers, other social scientists and humanities based researchers are therefore increasingly concerned with activist and engaged scholarship (Torres, 2018; Thorpe, 2012; Manzini, 2015). Subsequently, they provide a geography of hope that has the potential to bring about positive change through citizen engagement and in response to continually dominant neoliberal economic and political paradigms.

Innovative methods and approaches to engage citizens on themes of sustainability transitions have proliferated in recent years. Examples include speculative design (Hunt, 2011; Broms, Wangel and Andersson, 2017), living labs (Jaskiewicz, Keyson and Doolaard, 2016) and envisioning futures (Davies, Doyle and Pape, 2012). These are contributing to cross-cutting, human-geographical debates regarding civic engagement and critical consideration of practice in relation to ethics, politics and knowledge production (Jazeel and Farlane, 2010, Askins, 2018). Here, efforts to move beyond traditional extractive modes of knowledge production are driving methods that enable research for as well as with and by citizens and communities (Smith, 2011; 2016).

The session seeks to explore experiences and methods of community engagement in research addressing complex sustainability challenges. It includes presentations from a wide variety of thematic and geographic contexts as well as disciplinary backgrounds. We have invited practitioners, researchers and activists to share experiences and critical perspectives on working with citizens and communities on sustainability challenges.
Linked Sessions Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures (1)
Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures (2)
Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures (4)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: ac2019@rgs.org
Meaningful gamification as a strategy to enable sustainable living
Georgina Guillen-Hanson (Tampere University, Finland)
With the hypothesis that gamification can contribute to the paradigm shifts needed to change current lifestyle choices into more sustainable ones, the present research explores the notion of meaningful gamification as a product of design thinking processes and as an approach to enable more sustainable ways of living.

Meaningful gamification refers to a system that enables long-term change as the result of motivating individuals through personal connections that are not reward-based. This is particularly relevant because the impact of actions towards sustainability are meant to happen in and for the long-term.

The research explores several methods used for visioning, storytelling, social innovation, cross-sectoral work, ethnographic research and participatory activities. The three cases analyzed include: the co-creation of the Strategic Conditions towards Sustainable Lifestyles (SCSL) through multi-stakeholder backcasting activities in China, Colombia, Ghana, Germany and the Philippines; the use of meaningful gamification in an educational context; and, playtesting sessions with the objective of explore meaningful gamification strategies.

By exploring the implications and outreach of meaningful gamification in the context of engaging communities in backcasting activities, this research will bring about ways that meaningful gamification enables a new alternative to prompt behavior change towards more sustainable ways of living, particularly in the areas of education and communication of, for and about sustainable lifestyles.
Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures: Participatory mapping of an emergent social network for a regional transition to a low-carbon society
Evan Boyle (University College Cork, Ireland)
Net-Map is a participatory mapping exercise created to help people understand, visualize, discuss, and improve situations in which many different actors influence outcomes (Schiffer & Hauck, 2010; Schiffer & Peakers, 2009), . This process has been used with relation to a multi-stakeholder approach to a regional socio-technical transition in Ireland. Transition Dingle Peninsula 2030 (working title) is an initiative aiming to transition a geographic region in the South West of Ireland to a low-carbon society by 2030. Energy, agriculture, transport education, employment and tourism are the key sectors within the overall project and as such a diverse range of stakeholders are involved. The Net-Map process has been used as an innovative method for mapping the different individuals/ organisations involved in the Transition Dingle Peninsula 2030 project, to investigate how the multi-stakeholder network develops over time with the aim of creating a robust network and increase social learning between different actors (Sol et al., 2013; Hemmati, 2012). This piece of work seeks to analyse, in retrospect, the use of an innovative participatory approach to social network analysis, with relation to addressing complex sustainability challenges emerging through a multi-stakeholder approach.
Social Design Methods to promote democratic participation within community future planning
Zoë Prosser (Glasgow School of Art, UK)
Community landownership in Scotland is a unique phenomenon from which to study the role of democratic participation within decision-making, future visioning, and sustainable planning.

Over 500,000 acres of Scotland is owned by communities seeking to repopulate areas, and develop land to support civic needs and sustainable objectives (Wightman, 2013).

While policy is supportive (The Scottish Government, 2015; 2016; The Scottish Land Commission, 2018), one-size-fits-all approaches impose micro-hierarchies of power. Alternative models of decision-making are the result of activists (Baillie and Baillie, 2018; McFadyen, 2018).

Fragmentation between grassroots and top-down approaches highlights two issues with participation in future planning:

1 Diverse voices must be included to ensure future visions respond to genuine community needs. However, tradition consultation supports “usual suspects” and restricts future-focused discussion.
2 Planning events that do promote marginalised voices rely upon grassroots volunteers. Requirement for voluntary commitment is unsustainable and reduces access to participation.

Social Design (SD), explored as a solution, addresses complex social challenges through community engagement and participatory action research (Björgvinsson et al, 2012; Ehn, 2014; Koskinen and Hush, 2016; Manzini, 2015). It’s bespoke methods, such as codesigning events and future visioning workshops, can create novel models for participation with communities. Translating community designs into adaptable frameworks and toolkits addresses issues of scalability, but how might communities retain ownership of planning models? Who is responsible for sustaining democratic participation: can governance use SD methods to engage communities directly and create models of participation that are bespoke, accessible, and sustainable?
Methods for empowering communities to create sustainable futures for historic places of worship
Vera Hale (The Open University, UK)
Theodore Zamenopoulos (The Open University, UK)
Katerina Alexiou (The Open University, UK)
Sophia de Sousa (The Glass-House Community Led Design, UK)
There are approximately 14,500 listed places of worship in England that have a strong geographical, social and cultural impact on the English landscape. These historic places are mostly looked after by volunteers, who have limited resources (e.g. time, energy, expertise, confidence, funding), to deal with the complexities of balancing heritage and maintenance needs, with their religious function and social mission.

Government, funding bodies and advisory groups in recent years have moved away from supporting projects focused solely on repair and restoration, to promoting a more holistic outlook of the long-term use of those places, through engagement with their wider communities.

The AHRC funded Empowering Design Practices research project was setup to develop, test and evaluate innovative approaches to support those who look after historic places of worship to engage with their wider communities and assure a more sustainable future for those places. We have engaged with over 50 listed places of worship across the UK who have been considering physical and/or functional changes, and explored a number of different methods to support them in their design process. These included bespoke workshops focussed on specific issues or tasks (such as asset mapping or collaborative visioning), design training, peer-to-peer learning and educational resources.

In this paper we identify the key capacities that need to be unlocked or developed to empower individuals and groups to carry out design tasks with the involvement of their wider community and categorise the different methods, drawing attention to a set of dimensions that underlie their success.