Towards inclusive rural places and spaces


Dr. Katriina Soini, University of Helsinki, Centre for Enviroment & Natural Resources Institute, Luke, Finland

Assoc. Prof. Beata J. Gawryszewska , and team of Department of Landscape Art., Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland

Prof. Talis Tisenkopfs, University of Latvia, Latvia

Prof. Hilkka Vihinen, Natural Resources Institute, Luke, Finland

Contact: and


Rural places have traditionally been seen as place-based communities, assemblage of home, work, leisure time, family and friends, and following R.D. Sack, “thick with meanings”. Along with the global and local social and economic transformation they have become more specialized and fragmented, and “thinner”. In the times of post-crisis reality, postmodern urbanism and post-humanistic society suburbs grow rapidly, sprawling on the rural areas, blurring traditional citycountryside division. As a result, they - similar to many other places - have also become places of exclusion.

The objective of this working group is to explore what is the potential of the rural places, in particular, but not exclusively in the rural-urban interface, to become inclusive places for rural and non-rural residents by exploring the potential of agency, human and social capital and creativity attitudes. Following the place-shaping framework (Horlings2015)  places are seen not as essences but processes, dynamic in time and space, as well as relational bundles, continuously shaped by ecological, political-economic and socio-cultural processes in particular in rural and urban interfaces and landscapes. Places as centres of “being in the world”, connecting people to their environment and other people, are considered to yield considerable potential when striving for pathways to sustainability, increasing inclusion through efficacy, social innovations and social cohesion. 

We are interested in research on activities and practices that may (re)-connect people with other people or with rural environment associated with cultural ecosystem services. These activities may refer for example to nature-based activities (e.g. Green Care or Social Farming), different and alternative forms of rural living (e.g. ecological living and eco-villages),  production and consumption (e.g. community agriculture) having impacts on landscape development, especially in suburban area continuum . Following the theme of the conference we are interested in, in particular, what is the role of diversity (cultural, social and natural) in these activities; what are the means to explore and gain knowledge of the inclusiveness/exclusiveness (e.g. to give voice for different actors); and what is the role of the human and social capital in these processes, and, finally, what are the implications for the human and environmental justice.


“Inclusive” small groups: All the papers (max 4) of a given time slot (1,5 hours) will be briefly introduced (max 12 min.). After that the room is organized around four small tables to create a small group space and to encourage equal participation. Group discussions will use dynamic methods like interactive round tables. The discussion on the papers will continue in these small groups for the rest of the time (ca. 40 min.). The participants will be free to change the group during the discussion. The benefit of this working model is that there will be sufficient discussion and feedback for  all the paper presenters, and the participants will have a better opportunity contribute to discussion on the topic that they are most interested in.


Horlings, LG 2016. Connecting people to place: sustainable place-shaping practices as transformative power. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 20, 32-40.

Sack, R.D. 1997. Homo Geographicus: a framework for action, awareness and moral concern. Baltimore MD: The John Hopkins University Press.