Project Description

IFZ – Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture – is a private, non-profit research institute. Working within the critical areas of debate between science, society and policy, reflection and intervention, the prime objective of IFZ is to contribute to socially and environmentally sound, and gender-equitable technology design and sustainable development. The centre has extensive track record in stakeholder engagement and participatory and trans-disciplinary approaches in a broad range of themes: sustainable food systems, ecological product policy, women-technology-environment and energy and climate. Its research unit ‘Food Systems’ is investigating innovative agricultural networks and sustainable food systems using multi-actor approaches and genuine transdisciplinary work in close co-operations with non-research actors from practice/the business sector and policy/administration. IFZ is also a member of the Austrian platform for Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and currently involved in the implementation and institutionalisation of RRI within the Austrian research landscape. The FIT4FOOD2030 Food Lab activities will be carried out by a new RRI unit established in 2018. It will be building upon a pilot ‘transition experiment’, where IFZ guided a group of local actors from the quadruple helix in elaborating project ideas for a more sustainable and socially just food system in the city of Graz.

Contact: Sandra Karner,



Developing our actions o+A4:F15n food systems in the city of Graz Various Food Lab activities had already taken place before we at IFZ - Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture, formally joined FIT4FOOD2030, such as food system transition workshops, events on public sector food procurement or the initiation of short food supply Communities of Practice. Starting in 2011 Envisioning the Food Lab Graz We started to draft our vision for the Food Lab Graz and explored various contexts in which Food Lab activities could be implemented, and what they could focus on: concepts reached from regional development activities in rural areas to linking with Urban Food Councils, Commons- and Degrowth-related issues, as well as Food Sovereignty movements. Graz; August-September, 2019 Meeting Fellow Labs FIT4FOOD2030 Training for Food Labs At this training event, we presented our vision and received some further inputs to improve it further. Brussels; October 2019 Nyeleni Austria Forum Conceptualisation of a Workshop on Urban Food Councils in the scope of the annual meeting of the Nyeleni Austria movement. October-November 2019 Updating the Vision of Food Lab Graz After the conference, working with the inputs from the Brussels training for Food Labs, we updated our vision of the Food Lab and concretized our focus on deprived neighbourhoods in the city of Graz and food justice-related topics. December 2019 Planing Food Lab Graz activities for 2020 Based on this vision, we looked for practice partners in the field of community development, defined our focus areas and explored the needs there. January-March 2020 FIT4FOOD2030 webinar on 'Power and vested interests' Very interesting! It is amazing how power hierarchies could be levered out within lab settings, which emphazise on eye0level settings. However, the real challenge is then the next step to sustain this productive co-creation atmoshere beyond the lab experiments. Online; March 2020 Forced to replan Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that our plans of implementing face-to-face workshops in spring/early summer might not be realised, thus we re-scheduled the planned activities for autumn. April 2020 Searching for community partners After the shock moment of the first weeks of the COVID 19 lockdown, we started etasblishing contacts with diferent actors in community development again in order to fix new plans for carrying out our planned workshop with citizens from deprived neighbourhoods. Picture credit: Ricarda Martinek. April-May 2020 FIT4FOOD2030 webinar on 'Small wins, leverage points and impact' Again, very interesting - there is so much value and mutual learning potential in "simply" exchanging with peers! Online; June 2020 Establishing connections with local community centers In cooperation with two community centers, in the district of Jakomini and Triester area, we elaborated which workshop settings might be appropriate: not only to verify the vision of FIT4FOOD2030, but also to meet local needs in regard to food justice in the supply systems. This first workshop was to be held back-to-back with a community event scheduled for the middle of September. A workshop for university students was also scheduled for mid-October in a face-to-face setting. May-September 2020 Connecting with local academic partners During this time, we also contacted other research institutions in Graz which deal with sustainable and healthy food in order to build up synergies for the Food Lab activities. May - September 2020 Joint project conceptualisation Based on interaction and several discussions with the two community centers where our workshops were supposed to be implemented, and in cooperation with the Regional Center of Expertise at Graz University, a joint project proposal for Food Lab follow-up activities was elaborated. August 2020 Reorganising workshop settings to be implemented online By the beginning of September, the COVID-19 pandemic situation worsened again and the planned event in the Triester area needed to be cancelled. Moreover, it became clear that face-to-face workshops could not be implemented anymore. Thus, we consulted Cristina (from Ecsite - the project partner coordinating the activities of the City and Food Labs) and Rosina (from the City Lab Barcelona, which had developed the modules we were drawing inspiration from) in order to receive some advice on how to implement the workshops virtually. September 2020 Fostering Change in Our Food System - What do students think? Our first workshops was adressed to students due to two reasons: some students (who we know) were highly interested, and doing so allowed us to practice for a "real world" workshop. We could open up new perspectives for them. Online; 13 Octomber 2020 How do I eat? A workshop with citizens about sustainable food systems Back-to-back with one of our local partners’ (Community Center Jakomini & Social Medical Center Liebenau) regular acitivities (cooking and eating together in the district of Jakomini), we conducted a citizens mandate workshop with local citizens in a face-to-face setting. In spite of very strict COVID-19 security measures the workshop implementation worked out very well, and participants engaged enthusiatically in highly interesting conversations about the food system in general, local food supply possibilities and the FIT4FOOD2030 vision. 28 October 2020 A new experiment: Radio show Act in commons The Citizen Mandate Workshop was followed by a radio show discussion of food lab activities with regards to social justice (such as poverty, loneliness), the importance of social events (such as the citizens mandate workshop mentioned in our previous step) and the role of arts, science (as Responsible Research and Innovation) and community development. Radio Helsinki (Free Radio Graz); 5 November 2020 FIT4FOOD2030 holds its last City and Food Lab Training The reflections and exchange with colleagues from other City and Food Labs were again very joyful and inspiring. Online; 10 & 12 November 2020 Fostering Change in Our Food System - Students build up on previous ideas To meet the interest expressed in our first workshop for students and build on its results, we conducted the second part of "Fostering Change in Our Food System". Some students who took part in the previous event and newcomers discussed options for the fostering of sustainable food consumption and education in regard to food, as well as how to bring more transparency for consumers into food chain/logistics. Online; 11 November 2020 Good food for everybody - perspectives for the neighbourhood Triester Including the learnings of the previous workshops and some adaptions to local circumstances, we discussed options to strengthen food justice in the Triester neighbourhood. The stakeholders included representatives from the local community center, one from another community center, district officials (policy makers) and participants from academia. We identified some options to further collaborate on in 2021. Online; 17 November 2020 FIT4FOOD2030 2030 Virtual Final Conference We presented our Food Lab and learnings with regards to food justice at the conference. View more Online; 24 & 25 November 2020 Planing for 2021 We are currently planing our food lab acitivites for 2021 and explore further strategic steps beyond 2021. Graz; 21 December 2020