Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity

Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity (WEGO) logo

Introducing WEGO-ITN: Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity – Innovative Training Network

1 January 2018 to 31 January 2022

As the first international feminist political ecology research network of its kind, WEGO-ITN aspires to tackle socio-ecological challenges linked to policy agendas. This innovative and path-breaking project will help local communities to build resilient, equitable and sustainable futures. The goal of WEGO-ITN is to provide research that will demonstrate to policy makers how communities actively sustain and care for their environment and community well-being. Ultimately, WEGO will collectively provide important guides to strategies of resilience and sustainability that are required for meeting the SDGs.

The WEGO-ITN is made up of scholar-activists working on feminist political ecology from ten institutions in five European Union countries: Germany, Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom and eight institutions from six countries for training and secondments: Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Uruguay and USA.

‘Feminism and Sustainable Development: Take Two’ by Wendy Harcourt

‘Feminism and Sustainable Development: Take Two’ by Wendy Harcourt

PhDs and training

With funding by the European Union Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie, WEGO-ITN will host 15 PhD researchers, creating the first European network on Feminist Political Ecology (FPE).

The PhDs will be hosted at: The International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS) (Coordinating Institute); Freie Universität Berlin (FUB); Humboldt University Berlin (HUB); Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University (IDS); Pangea Foundation (PF); Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU); University of Brighton (UofB); University of Passau (UPAS); IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft (IHE) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

Training agenda

From 2018-2022 WEGO-ITN will develop a shared research and training agenda in order to educate the next generation of interdisciplinary social-environmental scientists on feminist political ecology in Europe. The network will look in detail at local communitiescoping strategies to build resilient, equitable and sustainable futures and how they link to global sustainable development policies. The research will focus on diverse economic and ecological practices that create new forms of gender relations, livelihoods and care activities, in response to growing lack of resilience of the economy and ecosystem.

Research themes

The individual doctoral study projects will explore three interconnecting research themes:

  1. Climate Change, Economic Development and Extractivism;
  2. Commoning, Community Economies and the Politics of Care;
  3. Nature/Culture/ Embodiment and Technologies.

In addition, training laboratories will be held annually engaging with partners in the network from University of Auckland (UoA), University of Vermont (UVM), University of Western Sydney (UWS), Defensoria del Vecino de Montevideo (DVM), Island Institute (II), Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Associazione Culturale “Punti di Vista” (PDV) and Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

WEGO research process

WEGO research process

The activities for the next four years will be based on a dynamic process with time for reflections and learning with space for several feedback loops over the three years– as the participants move from research and design to reflections and trainings towards the ultimate goal of having policy impact.

Local courses and specialized intensive network courses will be offered at different beneficiary and also partner institution. In addition to the training offered at the individual host institutions, there will be a joint training programme for all PhDs with the following four components: an E-learning Environment, Annual Training Labs, WEGO National Outreach Roundtables and Final WEGO Conference.

WEGO thematic diagram

WEGO-ITN research themes

Research Theme One: Climate Change, Economic Development and Extractivism 

How communities respond to economic and ecological changes in everyday social struggles and organizing for well-being in efforts to move out of situations of inequality, exclusion and poverty.

    Theme one will research the community response to climate change, neoliberal capitalism and extractive development processes. The focus will be on how communities respond to economic and ecological changes in everyday social struggles and organizing for well-being in efforts to move out of situations of inequality, exclusion and poverty. The individual projects will explore gender power relations in organizing for the security and protection of local natural resources in Nepal, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania and the UK. The studies are based in Global South contexts as well as Europe in order to look for modalities of power that cross different geographical contexts, and that produce similarities and differences in community responses to the impacts of climate change, economic development and resource extractivism, and the forms of knowledge, power and authority that sustain extractive development processes.

    The shared framework will look at:

    1. modes of governing natural resources by national and international governments and private companies;
    2. forms of community mobilization to defend water and food security, energy, livelihoods and demand fair labour conditions; and
    3. alliances being formed by communities within and across different locations with attention to gendered cultural, social and economic resource-reallocation.

    PhD Topics

    1. Climate change adaptation programmes and political violence in Nepal
    2. Virtual water flows: re-articulating gendered structures of accumulation along emerging agro-food commodity chains in Maharashtra, India
    3. The feminist political ecology of mining on gender and ethnic identities in Kalimantan, Indonesia
    4. The politics of uncertainty and adaptation to climate change in Kenya and Tanzania
    5. Drilling through the Anthropocene: fracking, land and expertise in contemporary Britain

    Research Theme Two: Commoning, Community Economies and the Politics of Care   

    How gender relations are being shaped in emerging practices of commoning, community economies and work of care for families and communities in successful strategies of ‘living well together’.

    This theme will focus on in-depth case studies in six countries of commoning experiments. Special attention will be placed on the relationships between gender relations and resource extraction and governance to understand how commoning can add to transformation of sustainability outcomes. The individual projects will have a strong focus on the Global North (Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Scotland and Japan) as well as the Global South (India and Indonesia). The PhDs will benefit from the on-going relations with communities where WEGO beneficiaries and partners are actively engaged. The projects will examine how changing gender relations in rural communities have come under pressure from changing resource depletion as well as policy changes that have transformed the political economy of small-scale communities.

    The shared framework will look at how communities are being transformed into more resilient and sustainable ones by exploring:

    1. ‘commoning’ efforts to promote the recovery of their food security and their communities;
    2. care practices in interconnected spaces, the enterprise, its members’ households and embedded communities and environments;
    3. subjectivities (masculinities and femininities) to create and enable a more inclusive community and commitment to place;
    4. market rationalities in the shift to alternative ideas of sustainable livelihoods;
    5. entrepreneurial practices and resource management by community groups linking rural producers and urban consumers; and
    6. political and ecological consequences of new value chains and how they intersect with notions of class, gender, religion (caste) and age.

    PhD Topics

    1. Community, commoning and care in the ruins of post-oil palm landscapes in Indonesia
    2. Eating relations: community economies, belonging and place-based food in the megacity Chennai, India
    3. The politics of care and defining the good life: elderly women’s community food economies in rural Japan
    4. Transformation of small-scale fishing communities
    5. The politics of food in urban southern Europe
    6. Women organizations in gendered economic landscapes in rural Italy

    Research Theme Three: Nature/Culture/ Embodiment and Technologies 

    How environmental justice takes into account the ways embodied, gendered and everyday lived experiences are mediated by technological interventions marked by economic and social inequalities that require a rethinking of issues around reproduction, production and population growth.

    The projects in this research area will explore how people and communities are facing dramatic ecological and economic change in an analysis of today’s disquieting troubles about: the impact of environmental degradation fueled by consumerism on both human and non-human lives; the difficulty to include queer movement’s analysis of environmental change in policy debates; the gendered governance of water; the ethical concerns around the escalating interdependence of bodies and technologies; and how advocates of reproductive freedom can address the problem of growing populations and scarce resources. What is new and exciting is the focus on the body as the first place where people experience the environment as well as the political struggle of people to claim control over their own biological, social and cultural embodied experiences. The research will move beyond the conventional environmental focus on nature that separates humans from their environments. Instead, it will look at how bodies, technologies and economies need to be understood as integral to understanding our material environment and ecological practice and theory.

    The shared framework will look at:

    1. the concept of naturecultures and how to look at the interrelationship of human and non-human in changing ecologies and economies;
    2. the emerging narratives that can unmake and make new worlds in the “turn” to new eco-criticism and new eco-politics; and
    3. the interdependence of technologies, ecologies and bodies and the implication for sustainable development policy frameworks.

    PhD Topics

    1. Social (re)production and the good life in a post-growth society: a feminist and queer perspective
    2. Liquid encounters - fluid conversations around water, environment, and gendered naturecultures
    3. Bodies, technologies and well-being
    4. Population growth and environmental justice: rethinking reproductive freedom

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    ISS team

    Professor Wendy Harcourt - Professor of Gender, Diversity and Sustainable Development

    Ms. Sharmini Bisessar-Selvarajah

    WEGO EU

    This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 764908-WEGO 2018-2021.