Conveners: Alistair Adam Hernández, HAWK Göttingen, DE (contact person); Felix Kwabena Donkor, University of South Africa (UNISA), SA (contact person); Annie McKee, Margaret Currie, James Hutton Institute, UK; Brendan O´Keeffe, Director of The Institute for Action Research, IE

Objectives: Resilience can be an equally confusing, enlightening and empowering concept. This WG aims to tackle the concept’s inherent fuzziness by presenting and discussing different approaches to understanding rural community resilience, as well as integrating bottom-up and grassroots viewpoints. We propose to present case studies of resilience from a range of research projects in different geographies across rural Europe and beyond.  A wider and deeper understanding of community resilience in the rural context – what it means, and its measurability in the context of human-environment interaction – shall be reached through knowledge exchange between the working group participants. The convenors envisage a joint publication with the focus on the challenges, potentialities, risks and opportunities of conceptualising and measuring rural community resilience across Europe (and beyond).

The WG topic inherently addresses the theme of the congress “Rural futures in a complex world” and engages primarily with Themes 2 and 3 in that the working group aims to outline and share tangible tools to assess rural community resilience and produce usable knowledge with the contested concept of resilience; whilst seeking to understand social and spatial justice dimensions. Can researchers influence how this concept might be utilized to empower communities to tackle change or to make those communities responsible for their own development? Can the resilience concept help to address global sustainability goals scaling up local insights for transformation gained through place-based research?

Topic: In the context of declining populations, economic degrowth and the fragility of ecological resources, communities in remote or “shrinking” rural areas, particularly in Western Europe, are facing major challenges. The concept of resilience may possibly deliver empowering and enabling options for dealing effectively with increasingly threatening restructuring processes of change in the countryside. Definitions, characteristics and a suitable specific policy for promoting rural community resilience are subjects of a lively scientific debate. Furthermore, for practitioners, the concept is still abstract and difficult to integrate into the everyday practice of development work. The proposed WG will contribute with current scientific knowledge gathered by different research projects and study cases proposed by the convenors and further proposals yet to be submitted by participants.

Format: The WG format will follow a split session structure and allow participants to change between the planned small discussion-tables in the second half of the session. It will start with 4 to 5 8-minute papers presenting the core of different approaches as well as e.g. encountered challenges. This adds up for the first 40 minutes (e.g. 4x(8 mins presentation + 2 mins questions)). Four small table discussions with corresponding hosts continue to analyse and discuss the presented approaches (three leading questions can be defined as an incentive to start the discussion) and finally summarising the upcoming issues and results on a flipchart (30mins). Participants are allowed to change tables freely. The last 20 mins of the session will be used to present the contributions in a plenary discussion allowing constructive interaction across different sub-topics.

e.g. 4x Presentations (40mins) + 4x Small Table Discussions (30mins) + Final plenary presentation (20mins) = 90mins | More presentations can be held if time per presentation is reduced.