eu geo 2019


The EUGEO Conference will take place from May 15 – 18 2019 at the National University of Ireland, Galway with the theme ‘Re-imagining Europe’s Future Society and Landscapes. This is a call for papers that focuses on socially engaged sustainability research. You can find more information about the conference here.

Beyond the Ivory Tower:  Bringing researchers, activists and civil society together in addressing complex sustainability challenges

Session Conveners: Dr Mary Greene, NUI Galway; Paul O’Donnell, An Mheitheal Rothar

Session Format: Interactive, participatory workshop


Addressing complex sustainability challenges necessitates input from a diverse range of social actors, including researchers, governance and community development stakeholders. In the context of increasing emphasis on socially engaged research (Morris et al., 2017), geographers and other social scientists are paying more attention to community-engaged research and the impact of their work in applied contexts. This is framed by a broader context in which research bodies and funders are placing more significance to participation, co-production and social impact during the research process, yet at the same time academics are facing increasing pressures associated with neoliberalisation of education and research institutions. Geographers have been leading in driving forward activist -research and challenging traditional binaries between expert and lay positions in knowledge production and governance approaches.  A broad range of cross-cutting, human-geographical debates are considering critically socially engaged and activist research practice (Torres, 2018) and broader questions of responsibility associated with ethics, politics and application in the knowledge production process (Jazeel and Farlane, 2010, Askins, 2018). Challenging traditional knowledge-production processes, to advance research with, by and for, not on, communities is central to collaborative and participatory research approaches. These intersecting considerations and developments have led to increasing partnerships, interactions and bidirectional knowledge exchanges between geographers, activists, community development practitioners and other governance actors in the context of theorising, researching and addressing complex socio-environmental and sustainability challenges.


The aim of this participatory workshop is to provide a collaborative space in which researchers, activists , local development practitioners and governance actors can discuss and debate opportunities and challenges for collaboration in knowledge production and governance processes for sustainable development. The emphasis is placed on sharing knowledge, experiences and insights to build partnerships around engaged research and sustainable development governance initiatives.


The workshop will take an interactive format, commencing with Pecha Kucha style contributions forms geographers, activists and community development practitioners engaged in work addressing societal sustainability challenges. This will be followed by a breakout world-cafe style group discussions and feedback session. Finally, the workshop will close with a panel discussion where invited speakers reflect on learning from the workshop. The workshop will be recorded by a graphic scribe, providing a visible and tangible capturing of the conversations which will be used for social media promotions throughout the event and to provide directions for future events.


The workshop will be convened and co-facilitated by Dr. Mary Greene, a sustainability researcher and human geographer based at NUI Galway, and Paul O’ Donnell, a qualified community worker focused on Sustainable Enterprise models for development.


We invite contributions for short Kecha Pucha style papers (5 to 7 mins) from geographers, activists and community development practitioners, that illustrate experiences, reflections and insights into the challenges and opportunities of collaborative, participatory and engaged partnerships between researchers, activists and governance actors working to achieve sustainable development.


Please send your abstracts (maximum 250 words) to Mary Greene ( and Paul O’ Donnell ( and by February 1st 2019.


ASKINS, K. 2018. Feminist geographies and participatory action research: co-producing narratives with people and place. Gender, Place & Culture, 1-18.

JAZEEL, T. & MCFARLANE, C. 2010. The limits of responsibility: a postcolonial politics of academic knowledge production. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35, 109-124.

MORRIS, K., BOWMAN, S. & ADSHEAD, M. 2017. Engaged Research: Society and Higher Education Addressing Grand Societal Challenges Together. Campus Engage National Network, Irish Universities Association, Irish Research Coucil.

TORRES, R. M. 2018. Everyday Encounters with Activist Scholarship. The Professional Geographer, 1-6.