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Advanced International Course on Social Innovation in Rural Areas

25 July 2019

An advanced course on Social Innovation in Rural Areas will be held at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza (Spain) on 18-22 November 2019. This course is part of the EU-funded project Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) (, which is built on making a better use of social innovations to assure the development of less-favoured rural areas.

Social innovation has been heralded as a vital part of the European recovery project since the economic crisis in 2008. It is of particular importance to rural areas, especially more disadvantaged rural areas, where multiple problems of depopulation, environmental quality decline and low levels of economic activity have been recurrent. With the trend of rapid urbanisation, the remoter rural areas will continue to be adversely affected.

In these areas, the state and municipalities often struggle to maintain basic public services because of public sector austerity. Markets are weak and there is still a high dependency on primary industries. This creates space and opportunities in which civil society can take on an increasingly important role in sustaining and improving conditions.

Throughout Europe and more widely, there are compelling examples of how civil society actors alone or with other partners have been able to take the lead in community economic development in the land-based sector and beyond, revitalising social capacities in fragile communities and supporting environmental improvements.

Behind the political rhetoric of leading global figures such as Manuel Barroso and Barack Obama, social innovation is a contested concept with multiple meanings and different interpretations. Greater clarity is urgently needed as to what social innovation is, how it can best be supported and where its efforts should be concentrated.

This course is part of the EU-funded Social Innovation in Marginalised Rural Areas (SIMRA) project ( The project is built on more effectively linking the practice community with the research community to allow the integration and cross fertilisation of knowledge and understanding.

More information on the course: