Socio-ecological reshaping of European Cities and Metropolitan Areas

Fellowship dates:04/10/2021 – 08/10/2021


Report from the group on its stay at MAK’IT

Current land use and infrastructure in cities often reflects the development priorities of the past. Several arising environmental problems regarding the quality of air, water, and biodiversity of and in urban areas have revealed the need for functioning ecological processes turned towards societal well-being. Additionally, advancing climate change, continuous socio-economic growth of large urban centers and related life-style changes and mobility needs place new demands on the use and functionality of urban space and infrastructures. Urban greenery is also becoming a critical feature with a redefinition and amplification of its functionality in urban areas. With a number of initiatives, strategies and goal-settings (e.g. EU Biodiversity Strategy, EU Green Infrastructure Strategy, EU Urban Agenda, Nature-based Solutions Initiative) the European Commission is promoting the establishment of a coherent network of blue-green infrastructure in urban areas across EU countries. The expectations are very high. Conceptual groundwork and pilot measure have provided practical insights, but extraordinary design and implementation challenges remain. Our proposal aims at socio-ecological rethinking of cities beyond the current frontiers of knowledge (technical, policy and transformative) and at addressing societal challenges with highly innovative integrated ideas around three main research priorities: (i) cross-scale upscaling strategies, (ii) multi-functionality and (iii) cross-actor cost-benefit sharing and trade-off negotiations.

Our approach is based on an innovative connection of research foci and case study examples (Rhine-Main Metropolitan Region – Green Infrastructure Network, Lisbon – Green roofs, Barcelona – Vertical gardening) which have not yet been thought and explored together. We will invite relevant networks such as Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) or professional associations to participate in our meetings and discussions.

A specific webpage, policy briefs, peer-reviewed synthesis publications, a joint project proposal elaboration (e.g. for EU Green Deal or EU BiodivERsA calls) and a special session at a relevant international conference are some of the deliverables we expect to develop in order to document and disseminate the network’s outputs to academic scholars and stakeholders outside academia.

After their stay at MAK’IT, the team will be hosted by the Institutes for Advanced Studies in Budapest (IAS CEU), Paris, Uppsala (SCAS), Turin (Scienza Nuova) and Bielefeld (ZiF).

Joechen Hack

Professor for Ecological Engineering
Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany)

Maria Manso

Architect & Postdoctoral Researcher in Civil Engineering
University of Lisbon (Portugal)

Rieke Hansen

Professor for Open Space and Ecological Urban Design
Geisenheim University (Germany)

Andrea Nóblega Carriquiry

PhD Candidate in Geography
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain)

Moving beyond traditional methods of identifying and overcoming negative attitudes towards vaccinations (ACTION team)

Fellowship dates:20/09/2021 – 24/09/2021

The ACTION project aims to tackle the spread of anti-vaccination messages both in physical interactions (for example within networks like parents’ unions) and in the web (for example in social media and web forums). The team will liaise with local researchers and experts who will help them (a) make a critical review of the literature and of relevant policy documents including those available through the stakeholder (WHO Europe) during year 1; (b)  critically discuss findings from Case Studies conducted at the team members’ institutions, including interviews with journalists and academics/researchers, during years 2 and 3; and (c) develop a policy document that will translate research evidence into policy proposals for dissemination to WHO Europe country-members and write-up funding applications to ensure that the team will be active after the end of the CAT funding. The stakeholder representative will be advising on translating evidence into a policy document.

The evidence to be discussed from the Case Studies (supported by external funders) are related to (a) understanding how attitudes of young people towards vaccination are built from different information sources, both on- and off-line using a mixed methods approach interviewing and surveying students in Bordeaux, France; (b) understanding how participants in a virtual online network spread vaccination-related attitudes (social contagion) using funding established at the University of Cyprus and (c) exploring innovative methods to assess social contagion of vaccination attitudes using Computer Agent-Based Modelling with simulations at the University of Cadiz. Pathways to action are also discussed.

The ACTION team is funded under the Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) scheme and will be meeting twice a year until end of 2022 at the following Institutes of Advanced Studies: SCAS (Uppsala), IIAS (Jerusalem), MAK’IT (Montpellier) and Scienza Nuoa (Turin).

Angelos Kassianos (PI)

Senior Research Fellow in Health Behavioural Science / Researcher in Psychology and Computer Science
University College London (the United Kingdom) / University of Cyprus (Cyprus)

Antonio Rojas García

Postdoctoral Researcher in Public Health
Imperial College London (the United Kingdom)

Ilaria Montagni

Researcher-Lecturer in Health Communication
University of Bordeaux (France)

Javier Alvarez-Galvez

Ramon y Cajal Senior Research Fellow in Health Computational Sociology
University of Cadiz (Spain)

Ourania Kolokotroni

Pediatrician & Researcher in Epidemiology and Public Health
Cyprus University of Technology (Cyprus)