Rural communities take care for the majority of the world’s arable land surface. They represent a great amount of the world’s biological and cultural diversity and provide social safety networks. Rural communities are therefore decisive for the aim of sustainable development. But global trends like globalization, urbanization, industrialization of agriculture, land grabbing, climate change, and an increase in natural disasters put rural communities increasingly in danger.

In the workshop, we therefore discuss what makes rural communities resilient in terms of these social and environmental changes. With resilience, we refer to the ability of a community to be strong and stand up after a crisis. In more scientific words, it is “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks” (e.g. Wilson 2012). We ask, how can a caring economy support resilience? Which role do social networks play? Last but not least, how can every one of us start to contribute to a more resilient rural development?

The area where the human and the natural environment is most intertwined is food. Humans need to eat every day and food production is highly dependent on rural nature. Therefore, we will focus our discussion on resilience strategies around food production and consumption but welcome ideas going beyond. Our aim is, on the one hand, to provide inspiration by exchanging knowledge, on the other hand, to level the obstacle of getting started by sharing experiences on initiating resilience strategies.

Economic productivity often depends on exploiting un(der)paid practices of care!

What do you want to care for?

In how far does your life depend on rural areas?


Carolin Holtkamp

is a phd candidate and scientific staff member at the Department of Sociology at the University of Innsbruck. Her PhD-thesis deals with the question of how civil society networks may contribute to a sustainability transformation of local agri-food systems. Her case study is the local social movement “Der Malser Weg” which is engaging against the advance of industrial agriculture and for a more resilient regional development in the Upper Vinschgau valley in South Tyrol. She is a member of the research group on local communities at the University of Kassel interested understanding and promoting traditionally sustainable communitarian lifestyles. Besides work, she likes mountain sports, canoeing, travelling and gardening. 

Armin Bernhard

is educational scientist and contract professor at the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano. He is chairman of the board of the Bürgergenossenschaft Obervinschgau, which is committed to an ecologically and economically sustainable development of rural areas in the Upper Vinschgau. He is also a board member of the Sophia cooperative for research on social innovation and accompanies projects on community-based economic activity.

Recommended readings:

–    Comic: Regionale Resilienz:

–    Brochure:

–    Book: Wilson, Geoff A. (2012): Community Resilience and Environmental Transitions. Routledge, London

–    Book: Raith, Dirk; Deimling, Daniel; Ungericht, Bernhard; Wenzel, Eleonora: Regionale Resilienz. Zukunftsfähig Wohlstand schaffen. Metropolis.

–    Short movies about farm resilience: Nr 1, Nr 2, Nr 3.