EC²U Think-Tank: “Social Innovation to Support a Peaceful Society”

In June, experts from various backgrounds came together at the Kepler Salon to discuss issues relating to fostering a peaceful society.

EC²U Think-Tank; photo credit: JKU
EC²U Think-Tank; photo credit: JKU

As part of a think-tank session organized by the JKU chapter of the European Campus of City Universities (EC²U) Alliance, the debate addressed the question "How Can Social Innovation Support a Peaceful Society?". The JKU joined the EC2U in November 2023 and representatives from the JKU Linz, the city of Linz, and non-profit organizations took part in the ensuing discussions. The think-tank session served as a unique platform for leading innovators and experts to share their thoughts and opinions as to social innovation’s potential to foster and support a peaceful society.

Each partner university within the EC²U Alliance organizes think-tank sessions and this session was one of eight organized this year within the alliance. The JKU will present the results during the EC²U Forum at the JKU between October 21-24, 2024. The Forum will outline follow-up action for the Alliance and draft a joint recommendation for the European Commission.

Event Highpoints and Participants
The panel included:

  • Mag. Jasmine Chansri: Managing director of Volkshilfe of Upper Austria
  • Franz Dörfler, MA: Innovation Manager at the Innovation Center Linz/Magistrat Linz
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Gegenhuber: Professor of Managing Socio-Technical Transformation at the Institute for Organization Sciences, JKU
  • Dr. Siegmar Lengauer, PMM: Research Associate and Assistant Director at the Institute of Criminal Justice, JKU
  • Univ. Prof. Priv. Doz. Dr. Stefan Rass: Professor of Secure Systems and head of the Secure Systems Research Group at the LIT Secure and Correct Systems Lab, JKU
  • Dr. Claudia Schwarz: Head of the Linz North Branch of the Austrian Red Cross at the JKU and head of the Department for Social Planning and Innovation (State of Upper Austria)
  • Univ. Prof. Dr. Alberta Bonanni: Vice-Rector for Research and International Affairs at the JKU
  • Dr. Christiane Steinlechner, lecturer at the JKU Institute for Retail, Sales and Marketing moderated the discussion.

Key Discussion Points
The Role of Social Innovation in Support a Peaceful Society: Panelists talked about how new organizational forms, approaches, laws, and services could address social issues and promote a more peaceful society. Social innovation involves collaboration between different sectors, including public administration, politics, NGOs, civil society, and entrepreneurship.
The Universities’ Role: The participants emphasized the universities’ key role in fostering social change and presented JKU examples, such as the MORE initiative to support refugee students, and partnerships with companies including Borealis AG to provide scholarships, grants, and networking opportunities.
The Legal Parameters and Social Change: Dr. Siegmar Lengauer underscored the fact that social innovation and supporting peace require a sound legal and regulatory system. Legal measures alone are not enough, however; social involvement is essential to achieving sustainable change.
Practical Applications: The panelists introduced real-world examples of social innovation, including projects by the Volkshilfe to combat poverty, and initiatives by Innovation Capital Linz to encourage public involvement and dialogue.
The Challenges and Moving Forward: The discussions focused on developing innovative solutions and engaging with society at large in an effort to tackle complex issues. The panelists called for a collaborative approach to draft and put these solutions involving different stakeholders in place.

Moving Ahead
The EC²U think-tank session on June 26, 2024, was a valuable opportunity to discuss how social innovation can play a role in supporting peace. The session brought diverse perspectives together, revealing the potential of applying collaborative efforts to create a more peaceful and just society. The discussed points contribute to the EC²U Alliance’s broader goals and feed into the network’s future initiatives.
Those interested in the outcomes of this year’s think-tank sessions can join us during the Forum. In addition, if you are interested in joining the discussion and taking part in future discussions, keep an eye on our “events” page as another think-tank session will take place in early 2025.