Regional Development and Social Innovation

While recent developments in digitalization are sometimes regarded as a threat, they may also provide the potential for participatory regional development. This may be particularly positive for sustainable development of rural areas at risk of demographic decline. In our research, we aim at synthesizing, systematizing, and analyzing Europe-wide examples of ‘good practice’ related to digital strategies and instruments that may foster participatory regional development. Based on this synthesis, we aim at developing an orientation framework for participatory regional development.

Research questions related to this research area are: how can digitalization contribute to a positive interpretation of rural areas or rural identification? How can the potential of digitalization be used for participatory regional development? In particular, how can place attachment be strengthened? And how may contributors only digitally present be involved? How can place attachment counter depopulation and migration? And how can digital tools be used to successfully address pivotal challenges of rural regions such as brain drain and youth drain? Which strategies have already been successfully pursued based on such questions? What criteria of good practice for participatory digital regional development result from examples available in Europe?

By addressing these questions, we aim at providing a deeper insight into patterns and processes of place attachment in times of digitization and demographic change. At the same time, we aim at providing a toolbox for the target-oriented design of programs for rural regions. Given the lower carbon footprint of rural populations, this also contributes to sustainable development.

The project is one of the winning projects in the “Hochschulwettbewerb im Wissenschaftsjahr 2022” university competition on science communication. This year’s competition focuses on citizen science and participation.

Recent developments in digitization may be seen as threats, however, they also provide the opportunity to foster a positive relationship of people with their communities via participatory regional development. This may be particularly positive for sustainable development of rural areas at risk of demographic decline.

The project's aim is to synthesize, systematize and analyse Europe-wide examples of 'good practice' related to digital strategies and instruments on this issue. These examples will be compiled, resulting in an orientation framework that is being made available in the form of a digital toolbox for further use in regional development...