Civil society leading, sustaining and improving social, economic and environmental conditions in fragile rural areas

Key reasons to attend this course

Gain a critical understanding of the concept of social innovation and its influence on social, economic and environmental outcomes in rural areas.
Recognise the diverse roles of communities and civil society in the development of social innovations.
Be aware of the multiple applications of rural social innovation to support societal well-being.
Learn about a range of tools and methods to better support social innovation.
Acquire competences for identifying, categorising and analysing cases of social innovation in Europe and non-European Mediterranean countries.
Be able to identify factors that affect the development of social innovation in rural areas.
Appreciate the challenges of evaluating social innovation.
Explore the policy context for social innovation and learn how policy can stimulate or constrain its development.


17 hours in-class training

15 hours of practical work

Leading international experts

Course given in English, Spanish and French with interpretation


  • 1. Kick-off visit to innovative projects in Huesca province (Spain) (D. Miller, B. Slee, R. Bryce, E. Górriz, V. Govigli, P. Sfeir, R. Da Re, M. Dijkshoorn)
  • 2. Introduction to Social Innovation (SI) (D. Miller, B. Slee)
    • 2.1. What is SI?
    • 2.2. The momentum of SI: overview of current debates
    • 2.3. The role of SI in disadvantaged rural areas
    • 2.4. The EU SIMRA project approach to SI: development of methods, case studies, innovation actions, database, consultation with stakeholders and reporting
    • 2.5. Practical exercise on what is and what is not SI and why based on project examples (D. Miller, B. Slee, M. Dijkshoorn)
    • 2.6. Discussion
  • 3. Characteristics of SI (R. Bryce)
    • 3.1. Diversity of SI in rural areas: topics, participation, aims, practices involved
    • 3.2. Diverging pathways of SI, outscaling and upscaling
    • 3.3. Practical exercise and discussion on investigating the diversity of SI (R. Bryce, M. Dijkshoorn)
  • 4. SI in practice
    • 4.1. Viewpoint from SI case studies/innovation actions (interviewer: E. Górriz)
      • 4.1.1. Olive grove recovery initiative in Teruel (Spain) (S. Plana)
      • 4.1.2. Economic empowerment of women in Deir El Ahmar (Lebanon) (P. Sfeir)
      • 4.1.3. Social cooperative in North Italy (R. Da Re)
      • 4.1.4. Community development trusts: Portsoy (boat festival, bunkhouse, etc.) (UK)
    • 4.2. Smart Villages: the view from the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD)
    • 4.3. Panel discussion and group work based on case studies and field visit (E. Górriz, M. Dijkshoorn)
      • 4.3.1. Key actors
      • 4.3.2. Opportunities
      • 4.3.3. Challenges
      • 4.3.4. Lessons learned
  • 5. Good practices and adaptive management in SI projects (E. Górriz, R. Da Re)
    • 5.1. Facilitation skills and participatory methods
    • 5.2. Mapping and engaging stakeholder
    • 5.3. Gap analysis, goal setting and project planning
    • 5.4. Conflict management and consensus building
    • 5.5. Finding funds
    • 5.6. Institutional design and governance
    • 5.7. Unforeseen project effects and trade-offs
    • 5.8. Communication
    • 5.9. Risk management
  • 6. Methods to evaluate SI (L. Secco, R. Da Re)
    • 6.1. Why evaluation is needed
    • 6.2. Evaluation frameworks
    • 6.3. Process evaluation and impact evaluation of SI initiatives
    • 6.4. Techniques for evaluation
      • 6.4.1. Self-evaluation
      • 6.4.2. External evaluation
    • 6.5. Practical exercise on indicators (L. Secco, R. Da Re, M. Dijkshoorn)
  • 7. Policy needs and policies for supporting SI (A. Ludvig, R. Lukesch)
    • 7.1. Policy impacts on SI in rural areas
    • 7.2. Main policy targets for SI in rural areas: vulnerable social groups, societal challenges at large, participatory inclusion of civil society
    • 7.3. Practical exercise to identify policies based on case studies (A. Ludvig, R. Lukesch, M. Dijkshoorn)
  • 8. Final reflections on the course
    • 8.1. What have been key lessons learned?
    • 8.2. How will participants use learning in their professional roles?
    • 8.3. How can SI be embedded in sectors/professions of participants?

Train at an outstanding international institution


For participation in the full course programme lectures and practicals, candidates can apply online at the following address:

The course is designed for 25 professionals with a university degree or equivalent. It is intended for decision makers, public, private and third sector development agents, evaluators, facilitators, technical advisors, researchers and other stakeholders involved in promoting, financing, planning, implementing or assessing social innovation projects in rural areas.

The course will be held at IAMZ-CIHEAM in Zaragoza from 18-22 November 2019, in morning and afternoon sessions.
Application deadlines:

  • 6 September 2019 - The deadline may be extended for candidates not requiring a visa and not applying for financial support if there are free places available.
    Apply here:
  • - Applications from those candidates requiring authorisation to attend the course, may be accepted provisionally.
  • - All participants will be exempt from the payment of registration fees.

A limited number of candidates from Mediterranean countries and from other European countries may receive financial support covering the cost of travel and full board accommodation in the Hall of Residence on the Aula Dei Campus (see registration form).
- Candidates from other countries who require financial support should apply directly to other national or international institutions.

It is compulsory for participants to have medical insurance valid for Spain. Proof of insurance cover must be given at the beginning of the course. Those who so wish may participate in a collective insurance policy taken out by the Organisation, upon payment of the stipulated sum.

Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza

Av. MontaƱana 1005, 50059 Zaragoza, Spain

+34 976716000

How to get here