Deploying ER/SSNA methodology towards communities in universities

Hi all, I am throwing a bottle into the sea – but well, I at least know where to throw it in this immensity :slight_smile: I’ve already discussed this idea with @nadia who recently visited us (@alberto has also had the opportunity to visit).

I am part of the happy ones who got to work closely with EdgeRyders, in the context of the opencare H2020 project that successfully ended last February. I recently became involved in the executive staff of our university (Bordeaux, where I’ve been appointed as vice-president for “digital transformation”, that’s how people like to call it here).

My post aims at identifying potential partners willing to deploy the SSNA methodology on a set of selected European university campus, in order to help our community get together and design the future of our institutions. I see lots of initiatives being taken to reform how universities work, how students may design their curriculum, how students may engage … It is actually quite hard to make sure that directions taken are good, and even harder to get feedback from community members as those processes are designed or deployed.

Using the ER method would in a sense equip an institution such as a university with more acute ears to listen and hear what community think, want and certainly are already doing. One difficulty (at least here in Bordeaux) is our institution gathers about 60000 people: 50000 students, 6000 personnel and 4000 researchers (who also teach) – that can be seen as a challenge in itself for the ER/SSNA methodology (!).

I figured other universities must be following the same type of initiatives, facing the same type of difficulties/challenges.

How about turning this into a research problem, putting up a H2020 consortium where universities are entities being observed (and others – maybe the same – are research partners)? Calls such as SwafS-16-2019: Ethics of Innovation: the challenge of new interaction modes might offer an opportunity (thanks to @lucechiodelliub for spotting the call).

Hope to hear from you soon. Cheers, Guy


I love this idea @melancon and would certainly be up for thinking through it more with you and others interested.

While I was based at Concordia University in Montreal before Edgeryders I was involved in explorations around public scholarship (ie. a facet of the With and For Society in SwafS), as well as experimental approaches to the evaluation of practice-based research projects (that extended into some European universities I believe). Some of this was a part of the Millieux Institute - research-creation working at the intersection of design, arts, culture and technology - which you may find relevant. Now, a large part of my work at Edgeryders is based in building partnerships around open and citizen-led research and innovation, and indeed our involvement in eight proposals to the last round of H2020 was focused on just this.

Anyway, brief note for now to share initial interest and will look into SwafS-16 and reflect more on it over the coming days.

[Finds a bottle washed up on the beach]

It is an interesting problem. Even the challenges are interesting. So, in principle, I am all in favor.

Maybe it’s a detail, but I am not convinced about SWAFS-16-2019. It seems suited to legal scholars drafting codes of conduct more than to computer scientists. More importantly, it’s a CSA, so they want you to string together other research projects rather than to go invent your own model. And finally, they only have the budget for funding one. No matter: other topics can be found. the idea is solld.

Thanks for pointing at those aspects, mentioning @lucechiodelliub to make sure she takes note and pass them on too my colleagues (which are still browsing the catalogue of calls, H2020 and others).

Hope to be back soon with more to share.

Just checking in here to say that I attended a strategic seminar on problem based teaching at our University this week and that this fits right into the current narrative. Indeed, our pro vice chancellor for teaching was entirely focussed on developing agile models for co creating the learning environment with our students. Fluffy words in need of a practical solution, if you ask me. And this is clearly where SSNA would fit right in!

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Hi Anders,

well, well, should I be surprised that Aalborg University vibes with UBx?

With no surprise, when forming the idea I indeed thought you (and UofAalborg) would be a perfect match for this type of research – both of us could getting involved both for as the observee and the observer … :slight_smile:

Here in UBx people are not talking co-design/creation of curriculum yet, the French have a really hard-wired habit and inclination towards top-down approaches. That being said, we have a 4-year project which is only is starting (called “New Deal”); the project means to experiment with a series of alternative curriculum following a few already designed (top-down) prototypes . What I imagine is a SSNA-based project could ne run in parallel to help users reach the design phase and (positively) influence the outcome …


being part of the process of digitalization and e-Learning here at the University of Parma i’m very interested too and SSNA would be a useful way to visualize and evaluate the impact of curricular activities, laboratories and training…as far as it happens by digital means and on digital environments.
Count me in, please.

Hi Federico,

and all @lucechiodelliub (also Camille) @akmunk and of course @anique.yael

we still need to browse the calls to find one that fits our intent. The call does not have to focus on SSNA, it can include ICT work (or not), etc. I am open to any type of collaboration to see those ideas get forward and benefit the university communities.

I’ll try my best to find something with the help of colleagues here at UBx.


Sounds great @melancon. I’ll also do some browsing over the coming little while.

I remember @anique.yael had mentioned these calls in an email exchanges with @akmunk.
They are indeed CSA as @alberto pointed out. But as far as what universities (UB, Aalborg for now, maybe try to see what other institution(s) may want to join) want to acheive, the call does it. It is not targeted at research though. Here at UB, we may have other channels to fund the research that would go with it (local money, national calls, …).
One concern is whether the call would allow to fund ER’s services, either as partner or as third party. Anique may have an idea.

Brief note because out of offices don’t work here that we’re in Turkey about to start our team retreat so I’ll get back to you on this @melancon next week

Good, have fun retreating in Turkey. Looking forward to your note.

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Ok so I’ve done an initial peruse of the H2020 SwafS and ICT work programmes with a filter for this and I think we have two ways of approaching it:

  1. situate the research problem in H2020
  2. design the project on our own terms and within our own research contexts
  3. both; and!

After some reflection, I think this could be most interesting if we design the project on its own terms and extend the focus on the future of research institutions to the project design itself - independent of EC’s institutional priorities and with reference to wider stakeholder interests. We could start by simply hosting a group call and drafting a concept note to get clear on how we all want to and can address the research problem within our own connected contexts, and then re-frame it for relevant opportunities. @melancon you had mentioned that there may be other funds at UB, we @ ER can also explore other smaller pots for R&D and @akmunk and @federico_monaco both have your own universities addressing kin issues and therefore potential resources available I would suspect (and hope?).

At the same time, as mentioned there could be potential opportunities in H2020 through alignment with SwafS priorities of expanding science beyond scholars + industry to include CSOs + the public etc. (or in a riffing off your words @melancon, in terms of how this research problem could address universities as entities being observed by reframing the constitution of the academic community to design the future of our institutions.
In particular this could leverage the RRI (responsible research and innovation) cross-cutting priority. @noemi and I have just come from a social lab as a part of the New Horrizon CSA and this idea fits into the key principles as per here.

Some initial potentially relevant H2020 calls:

What are your thoughts?
Ping @muredduf as I suspect you may be interested in this too