Latest SCI publications

Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-09-01 - 2023-08-31

EdiCitNet develops a reference framework on nature-based Edible City Solutions (ECS) for inclusive urban regeneration. It draws upon the vast pool of knowledge and practice of these re-conceptualised NBS, prospering to benefit of communities. More food consumed in the city is grown, produced and processed locally will foster social cohesion by encouraging ‘communities of practice’ and reduce the ecological footprint of cities. Planning for and implementing successfully proven ECS enhance overall urban resilience. EdiCitNet builds a constantly self-learning network of cities. The EdiCitNet consortium brings together city authorities, local NGOs, innovative SMEs and research partners from Europe, America, Africa and Asia, thereby laying the basis for a future global market place of ECS.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-01-07 - 2021-09-06

Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS): Facts and fiction on the concept of participation Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are a new concept which shall ensure that requirements for the quality of organically produced food are met. PGS are used for local markets and emphasize active participation of a broad base of local actors engaged throughout the organic value chain. Promoters of PGS assume that this type of guarantee assurance is cheaper, less bureaucratic or more capable of promoting rural development. PGS are framed by their promoters as more effective and efficient alternative to product certification carried out by accredited, independent organic certification bodies, which is currently established in law as guarantee assurance mechanism for organic products. Research on PGS has just started and many phenomena linked to and paramount for PGS are not yet studied. This project will examine how PGS-participation is perceived by PGS-members, why they participate or not participate and which benefits and costs drawn from their participation PGS-members perceive. In addition, PGS-participation will be described and analyzed from a scientific point of view and the effect of participation or non-participation in the PGS on the claimed benefits of PGS (e.g. increased trust in products) will be assessed. Framing participation in PGS in a broader context of activities which are not related to the PGS but may compete with PGS-activities for PGS-members’ time resources and within the broader political and institutional context and structural forces in place will allow us to identify factors hindering and facilitating actor participation in the PGS. For this purpose, qualitative interviews, surveys, participant and non-participant observation and focus groups will be used as data collection methods and applied in each two PGS initiatives in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador. Deliverables of the project will be relevant as PGS have hardly been addressed in scientific literature so far. Although actor participation is a paramount element of PGS, it has not yet been studied on a broad basis. Project outcomes shall deepen our understanding of actor participation in PGS. The topic is of high relevance beyond the context of PGS as well, as participation is an important concept in a wide array of social processes. Consequently, by studying PGS we expect further insights for rural development beyond certification in organics.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-06-15 - 2021-12-14

Before the invention of synthetic indigo, the main source for dyeing textiles blue for thousands of years was natural indigo. Indigo was appreciated for the long lasting, stable quality of its colour. The sophisticated knowledge of gaining the dye material from plants and dyeing in fermentation vats was developed all over the world by discovering and using local species from at least eight plant families. As Asia has the highest diversity of species used for gaining indigo, our research focuses on field sites in China, India, Indonesia and Laos. Literature provides a solid basis for understanding principle processing steps and species used in history. What is lacking is the detailed documentation of contemporary use of indigo yielding plants that includes all steps from cultivation to the final product. This refers especially to plants that did not gain a worldwide reputation in the past, but were widely used on a local scale. Nevertheless, we have evidence from recent local ethnobotanical inventories and our own scoping visits that these plants are still in use in remote areas. We focus on the following research questions: (1) which species yielding indigo are used today by whom and in what form?; (2) which cultivation, collection, processing and dyeing methods are applied?; and (3) which similarities and differences of the applied processing and dyeing techniques can be documented by measuring process relevant parameters? The second focus of our research is on quality. The aspect of quality is not dealt with in recent ethnobotanical research about natural indigo use. It was, however, a key factor in indigo production throughout history, is regaining significance again and will be essential for future production. Key questions are: (1) how is quality defined, measured or categorized along the indigo supply chain?; (2) how can quality be influenced throughout the supply chain?; and (3) which qualities of natural indigo are being achieved today? Hypotheses will be generated about quality influencing factors throughout the supply chain. An interdisciplinary set of methods will be applied: (1) analysis of historical documents from colonial research on indigo; (2) ethnobotanical field research in China, India, Indonesia and Laos; (3) measuring of process relevant parameters; and (4) analysis of 100 indigo samples concerning the content of indigotin and additional components which could be relevant for quality. The reference material database of these samples is an additional outcome of the project and will be the basis for follow-up research.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations