UCL Department of Geography


Community-driven Digital Action: A catalyst for social change in the COVID-19 crisis

1 July 2021

EU support for UCL Geography’s Extreme Citizen Science group

Community-driven Digital Action: A catalyst for social change in the COVID-19 crisis

The challenges of Covid-19 have affected all sectors of human activity. The responses include many citizen initiatives based on community-driven Digital Action (DA). Such actions, at local, national and international levels, act as significant catalysts for social change during a crisis.

‘Digital action at HEIs as a catalyst for social change in the Covid-19 crisis’ (HEIDI for short) is a new two-year ERASMUS+ project coordinated by UCL Geography’s Extreme Citizen Science group.

HEIDI aims to improve the ability of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to support community-driven knowledge enhancement and action and promote their role in social change by enhancing staff and student expertise in community problem-solving during the pandemic.

The project will develop collaborative actions between HEI, voluntary-sector and civic organizations through 90 events engaging 3,000 people in 5 countries - the UK, France, Malta, Greece and Cyprus. It will examine the drivers and barriers to HE involvement in public digital engagement, improve collaboration with community groups, develop the digital skills of staff and students and create the conditions for citizens and HEIs to co-create Digital Action, especially in responding to crisis situations such as Covid-19.

The project coordinator is University College London (the ExCiteS group in the Department of Geography; the Office for Open Science and Scholarship; the Evaluation Exchange, and the Community Research Initiative for Students), with partners including CRI, University of Paris; University of Malta; Web2Learn (SMEs in Greece); and Citizens In Power (CIP- an NGO in Cyprus).