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TRANSIT: Learning for Change: A Journey through Transformative Social Innovation

The deadline for proposals has been extended! Call for proposals closes March 15th!

Social innovation has been heralded as an effective way of dealing with societal challenges and has found its way into policy discourses across the EU. There is a sense that social innovation can help empower people and drive societal change, the need for which has made itself strongly felt in the aftermath of the recent economic recession and the wider retreat of the welfare state. The optimistic assumptions made about social innovation merit scrutiny however, as they seem to underestimate the complexity of these challenges.

Building on this analysis, the conference will explore the empowering and transformative potentials of social innovation in the face of persistent problems and growing complexity. This will include a critical approach, open to the paradoxes of social innovation and the diversity of interactions between actors engaging in it. Attention will also be given to the fundamental question of how transformative change can be generated through learning.

As the final conference of the TRANSIT research project, we will be sharing insights into the transformative nature of social innovation, while also seeking to foster new connections and knowledge in support of a transition to just, resilient and sustainable societies.


Important dates

25 Jan          Call for Activities opens

1 March        Call for Activities closes

15 April         Activities are established

15 April         Invitation-based registration opens

15 May          Invitation-based registration closes

22 May         Public registrations open 

15 June         Public registrations close

13-15 Sept    Conference


Key Themes

Paradoxes of transformative social innovation

Social innovation is widely heralded as the proverbial silver bullet, but is it really? In some cases, governments have used it to fill the gap left by a retreating welfare state; and in others, it has exacerbated social tensions by fuelling exclusion. If we truly want to generate a transformative impact, we need to have an honest conversation and include the good, the bad and the ugly of social innovation.

Activating the hybrid sphere – institutions and social innovation beyond the friend-foe distinction

The relationships between governments and social innovations are as multi-faceted and complex as these actors themselves. Yet, we tend to reduce their interactions to a pure positive or pure negative, overlooking the diversity of ways in which they are linked. TRANSIT will offer a conceptual framework, as a basis for mapping these out and discussing them. We hope this will enable a meaningful conversation for policymakers and practitioners to collaborate.

Learning by sharing narratives of change

Transforming our societies calls for new ways of thinking, organising and doing, which in turn requires dedicated learning processes and story-telling. Since all social innovations involve new practices, they come across similar learning issues. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we can exchange experiences, share our narratives of change and collectively reflect and think about how we together can make change happen – via sustainable lifestyles, emancipation, entrepreneurial support or the fine-tuning of institutions.