SUSPLACE is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission. SUSPLACE will train 15 Early Stage Researchers in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to study and further enhance sustainable place-shaping practices. The project runs four years from October, 1 2015 until September 30, 2019. The 15 Early Stage Researches are appointed for three years, starting from April 1, 2016.

SUSPLACE brings together six academic and seven non-academic partners from seven European countries and is coordinated by the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University.

Sustainable place-shaping is framed within a relational approach to place. Places are seen as the in time and space differentiated outcomes, shaped at the intersection of unbound ecological, political-economic and socio-cultural ordering processes. Places are mutually shaped and reshaped and interconnected by these (trans)formation processes. Although places do have some endurance, they are dynamic and always under construction.

Transformation processes have so far provoked many unsustainabilities in and across places, such as inequalities, exclusion, poverty, economic shrinkage, resource depletion, ecological hazards and food insecurity. Nowadays we witness a wide array of citizens’ initiatives developing sustainable practices and building the capacities to transform their place according to their ideas, needs and demands. This transformative capacity of sustainable place-shaping practices entails a well-balanced:

  • socio-cultural re-appreciation of respective places;
  • ecological re-grounding of practices in place-specific assets and resources;
  • political-economic re-positioning towards dominant markets, technology and policies.

The SUSPLACE programme will explore the potential of the transformative capacity in a selection of initiatives in 15 research projects under the heading five interrelated themes: Inclusive Places, Resilient Places, Connected Places, Greening Economies and Pathways to Sustainability.