Author: Leanne Townsend (The James Hutton Institute)

On the 20th September 2022, a group of 19 researchers met in Portugal to work collaboratively on a range of academic papers to communicate the findings from their research. The researchers represented three Horizon 2020 projects: DESIRA, MOVING and SHERPA. The event was hosted by Teresa Pinto Correia and Catarina Esgalhado at the University of Evora and was led by Leanne Townsend, Claire Hardy, Christina Noble and Mags Currie of the James Hutton Institute.

Participants came together in plenary and small group sessions to explore how findings in case studies across and within projects might be brought together in comparative reflections. A range of common themes emerged across the case studies and projects relevant to rural digitalisation as well as research methodologies.

Papers now in development include: the role of digital storytelling in research; the application of living lab research in policy recommendations; the evolution of digital skills required in rural regions; hybrid digital and face-to-face research methodologies; participatory technology development in rural areas and the impacts of broadband connectivity on rural economic development. During the event, a plan was agreed to develop a special issue on the theme of rural digitalisation. This will be led by Mikelis Grivins, Leanne Townsend, Mar Delgado and Gianluca Brunori.

During the writing week participants also took part in cultural walks around the historic and beautiful city of Evora. Participants came together in a social dinner organised by our hosts Catarina and Teresa. After a long period of being denied the opportunity to meet up and work together on collaborative activities, it was great to come together as a group and progress our ideas, discuss our research findings and strengthen our networks across and within projects. The event was a great success and we look forward to sharing the outputs soon.