Vespucci Training School on Digital Transformations in Citizen Science and Social Innovation

Vespucci Training School on Digital Transformations in Citizen Science and Social Innovation

A training school co-funded by JRC ( and COST Action 15212 Citizen Science to promote creativity, scientific literacy, and innovation throughout Europe

Date: January 21-25, 2019
Fattoria di Maiano, Via Benedetto da Maiano, 11, 50014 Fiesole FI, Italy
Nearest airports: Florence and Pisa; Nearest railway station: Florence.
Language of the training school: English
Maximum Number of Participants: 20

Organization Committee:
Sven Schade, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Marisa Ponti, European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy (local organiser)

Lecturers/Facilitators (confirmed) - more to be added when confirmed:

  • Muki Haklay, University College London, UK
  • Mara Balestrini, CEO Ideas For Change, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
  • Stefan Daume, Founder and Chief Data Wrangler at the Scitingly Project, Stockholm Sweden
  • Sven Schade, JRC
  • Cristina Capineri, University of Siena, Italy
  • Marisa Ponti, JRC


How to Apply and Key Dates

  • Application deadline: 13 November 2018
  • Notification of acceptance: 5 December 2018
  • Start of the Training School: 21 January 2019

Financial Support for Travel and Accommodation

This training school will be limited to 20 participants from the COST Member and Cooperating States and from the Near-Neighboring Countries, whose participation has been approved by the Action Management Committee of this Action. The selected trainees will receive a grant of 750 Euro as a contribution (flat rate) to the overall travel and accommodation for six nights and meal expenses. Individual trainees are required to pay themselves for travel and accommodation (which includes breakfast) expenses (Please note that this is a rule in the COST Vademecum). Trainees are expected to share rooms. Lunches will be offered but not dinners. The COST contribution can be combined with other contributions from other sources.

The grant will be received one month after the completion of the training school. Trainees from Italy will receive a grant of 550/600 euros due to smaller travel expenses. Participants are expected to arrive at the Fattoria di Maiano in the afternoon/evening on January 20th (Sunday) and depart on January 26th (Saturday) after breakfast. Successful candidates must arrange their own travel. Accommodation (six nights) will be offered at the Fattoria di Maiano to encourage a full immersion/group work and exchange among trainees. Applicants should read the COST Rules (Vademecum) for funding eligibility (

Who Can Apply?

Early-Career Investigators (ECI) (individuals who are within a time span of up to 8 years from the date they obtained their PhD/doctorate (full-time equivalent) in different fields, for example, Science and Technology Studies, Citizen Science, and Public Policy; researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants. Applications will be assessed by the Steering Committee and about 20 participants will be invited. We aim to achieve a balanced representation of disciplines, gender and countries, with particular emphasis on ECI and applicants from COST Inclusiveness Target Countries (see the list here) Accepted participants are recommended to bring their laptops and VGA adaptors for the projector. We will provide an Internet connection and lunch. Fluent English is required.

How to Apply

Applicants are requested to:

  • Fill out the application form.
  • Prepare and upload a 250-word motivation letter where they “Make their case”: Why is this Training School important for them, and how they think they can use it to involve citizens to support social innovation in their country.
  • Prepare and upload a short CV - max 2 pages. In the same document containing the CV, if applicable, describe also their role/contribution in/to the COST Action 15212 (e.g., Working Group Member, contributor to a publication, etc.).

Please upload your CV and motivation letter in the application form!

The organizing committee will assess the eligible contributions following these criteria:

  • Scientific/technical quality of contribution (max. 10 score points).
  • Level of involvement of the participant in the Action (max. 5 score points).
  • Interest of the submitted contribution to WG and Action goals (max. 5 score points).

For further information regarding applications:

  • Sven Schade, sven [dot] schade [at] ec [dot] europa [dot] eu, EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
  • Marisa Ponti, marisa [dot] ponti [at] ec [dot] europa [dot] eu, EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
  • Cristina Capineri, cristina [dot] capineri [at] unisi [dot] itUniversity (cristina.capineri@),  Università di Siena, Siena, Italy



Aim and Goals of the Training School

This training school is a five-day event for doctoral students, researchers, policymakers, civic entrepreneurs, designers, and civil servants who are interested in exploring and learning about:

  1. how citizen science can be understood and/or used as a strategic or intentional approach to social innovation;
  2. the intertwinement of social innovation with socio-technical developments, including the impacts of digital transformation;
  3. the relationship between policy framing, participatory research, and social innovation.

The Role of Digital Technologies in Engaging Citizens (not only Citizen Scientists) in Social Innovation

With the widespread availability of cheap, ubiquitous and powerful tools like the internet, the world-wide-web, social media and smartphone apps, new ways of carrying out both citizen science and social innovation have become possible. Often this means that barriers for citizens to engage in both science and social innovation have been lowered in terms of communication, outreach and scaling and thresholds for participation have also been lowered. There is an enormous potential for these technologies to strengthen the role of intermediary civil organizations and communities, and thereby to re-balance the playing field in favour of a broader range of actors - even those who do not use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). ICTs can also help citizen engagement in policy framing by facilitating their involvement throughout the policy cycle, from agenda setting to service design and provision up to policy impact evaluation, creating new roles for stakeholders and enabling new power relations. However, digital technology should also be put in context, as it is often not leading edge but existing off-the-shelf technologies that are used in social innovation. Thus, technology must always be seen in its close intertwinement with the actual world of people, places, and digital skills people may or may not have. (For more details, please see this document)

Outcome(s) of the Training School:

Participants will learn about new forms of collaborative socio-technical development for social innovation, analyze case studies, and apply what they have learned by building a real collaborative socio-technical development for involving citizens and other stakeholders. As a result, participants will learn new skills and, more importantly, they will know new people, peers to collaborate with and/or other professionals who can help their projects.

The program is built upon three main tracks. The first three days will be devoted to introducing participants to these tracks (one track per day). The last two days will be devoted to group work.

  1. Overview of citizen science in research and innovation. This track will explore the following aspects:
    a. Participation of citizens, e.g., RRI and citizen engagement in scientific research.
    b. The relationship between citizen science and social innovation: what is social value, and how do citizens go about creating it? How do we see the role of citizens in the process of social innovation? What are suitable strategies for effective engagement of citizens in social innovation at different administrative levels? Do we need citizen science to foster social innovation?
  2. Citizen science, social innovation, and policy-framing. This track will explore the following aspects:
    a. The relationship between citizen science and policy: post-fact world, post-truth politics, and evidence for policy.
    b. Mechanisms to be put in place to move further from knowledge to action.
    c. The policy-framing cycle: differences at administrative levels, geographic scales, informality vs formality.
  3. Digital technologies in citizen science and social innovation: opportunities and risks. This track will explore the following aspects:
    a. The relationship between different types of digital technologies and the social innovation outcomes that can be delivered: for example, by examining the focus of the innovation, i.e. is it in the digital technology itself? Is it in how this technology interacts with other activities? Is it in how social needs are being met, etc?
    b. The different combinations of actors, roles and relationships in different types of social innovation, as well as which actors use what types of digital technologies and in which ways.
    c. Inclusiveness: how can we make it possible for a broader cross-section of society to participate? How can we lower the “entry level”?


More information about the training school


Monday, January 21, 2019 - 08:00 to Friday, January 25, 2019 - 19:00
Fattoria di Maiano
Via Benedetto da Maiano, 11
50014 Fiesole FI