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Hackathons for social action organised by Web2Learn at CitizensHack 2022

Web2Learn’s contribution to a European citizen-driven open innovation event: CitizensHack 2022!

When we think of hackathons, we usually assume that they are only made for tech- savvy people or that they deal with issues at odds with society’s main concerns. However, what if this is not the case? What if there are hackathons that encourage the involvement of ordinary citizens in solving pressing social issues? Well, CitizensHack is all about that!

CitizensHack2022 is a hackathon event organised by UltraHack and supported by the European Commission. This hackathon meant to increase European citizens’ participation in tackling social challenges affecting their city or neighborhood. At this citizens-centric hackathon, Web2Learn is glad to participate with 3 challenges. Groups of 4-6 persons are formed to tackle each challenge.

The first challenge, “Playful ways in engaging with art during the pandemic”. is led by researcher Mariana Ziku This challenge idea comes straight out of the new social conditions imposed by the current pandemic crisis. In particular, this challenge is about inspirational ways museums can engage online visitors in fun and creative activities. The idea was motivated by some museum initiatives that engaged citizens from their homes and used out-of-the box thinking to reconnect with the public.

The second challenge is entitled “Small museums under pressure: covid- 19 and the next day”, led by Stefania Oikonomou. Undoubtedly, covid- 19 has altered the way museums operate and has put a huge burden on “small” and local museums that couldn’t afford to integrate digital technologies and organize virtual tours or exhibitions in order to engage with their audience. So, the idea came out of a single question: what can ordinary citizens do to challenge this pattern?

The third challenge is “Ghosts nets: collection and re- and upcycling in remote coastal regions”. It is introduced by researcher and director of Web2Learn Katerina Zourou. Inspired by the social issue of marine pollution and preservation, the idea foresees the collection of abandoned fishing nets, and the re-use of them thanks to the application of innovative solutions that will permit their upcycling. This challenge idea aims to propose solutions allowing on the one hand small communities to be actively engaged in this process and on the other hand innovation teams working on the re-use of ghost nets to get in touch with these small communities and facilitate the transition to a greener future.

Hackathons can address social issues as effectively as other activities of civic engagement and participation. The 3 challenges presented above are also connected with the HEIDI project, a two- year Erasmus+ project coordinated by UCL Geography’s Extreme Citizen Science group and in which Web2Learn is actively engaged as a member of the project’s partnership. The HEIDI project aims to foster citizen-driven digital action to act as significant catalysts for social change during a crisis, like the one we are experiencing with covid- 19. Check more about the HEIDI project on the project’s official website