Rural regions are of central importance to the economic, social and political stability of advanced Western societies. When national states do not offer sufficient quality of life to people living in rural regions liberal democracies tend to destabilize. Authoritarian, populist or even extreme rightist movements gain followers and political influence (see for instance the USA, former East Germany, Tchech Republic, Hungary, or Slovenia). In Central Europe some of the rural areas are at the same time industrialized, typically with old, traditional industries.

Compared to metropolitan regions, the relative affordability of land, historically derived competitive advantages (e.g. mines, water conducts) as well as skill sets of the entrepreneurs and the work force lead to the location of rather traditional production-oriented industries. While high tech typically moves to or emerges out of metropolitan centers, old industries can often be found in rural regions. However, we believe that rural (industrialized) regions have very specific needs and opportunities when trying to improve the quality of life by means of innovative digital artifacts.

We want to exemplify this argument by highlighting some relevant topics and domains:

  • Employment and Cooperative Work: The challenge is the digitalization of workplaces in old existing industries with their traditional machinery. We need to find specific CSCW solutions for highly qualified shopfloor workers.
  • Transport and Mobility: The distances to move to work, shopping or schooling are fast in rural regions. They typically do not have well-functioning public transportation. The challenge is to find IT support in increasing mobility beyond the traditional individualistic car use.
  • Health and Quality of Life: Rural regions typically have demographic problem, in the sense that their population is aging faster (due to a emigration of young population). Compared to metropoles, the density of doctoral coverage, the level of medical specialization and the quality of the medical services is lower. So, the challenge is to support a healthy living and medical care in the width of rural regions.
  • Agriculture and Climate Neutrality: Old industries are typically very energy intense based on processing coal, oil, or gaz. The challenge is to find IT support in developing new production technologies and in economizing energy consumption.
  • Cultural Closure and Inclusion: Rural regions are often characterized by hierarchically grown decision structures and dense social networks among their inhabitants. Conservatism and social closure may characterize these social groups and in turn, people living in metropolitan areas may conceive of these groups as such. Whereas dense networks can be an element of a high quality of life, the traditional social structures may exclude strangers and newcomers, or the latter may exclude by themselves based on certain social representations. The challenge are IT designs which may link rural and metropolitan regions and support participative decision making across these areas and their cultures (i.e. interculturally).

Open Call for participation

We invite all interested people from both academia and practice/non-academia. Both target groups apply via a Google form or e-mail in which you describe your motivation to participate.

Submissions should critically reflect on how your research or interests address issues related to rural regions. Your prior experience does not have to be specifically concerned with digitalization in rural regions, but the application will be expected to demonstrate how your work is relevant to the workshop’s topic and can be applied within the workshops’ context.


David Unbehaun

University of Siegen, Germany

is a post-doctoral researcher in the Information Systems and New Media Chair at the University of Siegen. David Unbehaun graduated in the field of business and public economics at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and Siegen. This was followed by a PhD in Socio-Informatics, focusing on Designing Assistive Technologies to Engage People with Dementia and their Caregivers. Since 2016, he is involved in several national and international health related projects, focusing on aspects of human-computer interaction, computer supported collaborative work and long-term social and ethical implications

Myriam Lewkowicz

Troyes University of Technology, France

is a full professor of Informatics at Troyes University of Technology (France), where she heads the multidisciplinary research group Tech-CICO. Her research involves defining digital technologies to support existing collective practices or to design new collective activities. From 2020 she chairs the European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET).

Volker Wulf

University of Siegen, Germany

is a computer scientist with an interest in the area of IT system design in real-world contexts, this includes the development of innovative applications from the areas of cooperation systems, knowledge management and community support. One special focus lies on flexible software architecture which can be adapted by end-users. Further research focuses on methods of useroriented software development and introduction processes. He is head of the Institute for Information Systems and New Media at the University of Siegen.

Chiara Bassetti

National Research Council, Italy

Is a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian Research Council (CNR), and teaches Qualitative Methods and User Experience at the University of Trento. Since 2012, she has worked in interdisciplinary teams, contributing to the design of socio-technical systems and artifacts such as digital platforms and complementary currencies. An ethnographer and ethnomethodologist, her main research focus rests on interaction —interpersonal, human-computer, and human-robot— with particular attention to multimodal and cultural aspects. Further research concerns computer supported collaborative work, grassroots initiatives and socio-economic innovation.

Johannes Schädler

University of Siegen, Germany

is a professor for social work at the University of Siegen and coordinator of the University’s Centre for Planning and Evaluation of Social Services (ZPE). His research and teaching refers to modernization processes of services for persons with disabilities, mental health problems and long-term care needs also in a comparative European perspective. Based on regional, European and international project activities he has been working on innovation – implementation theories in disability services and the development of inclusive local social planning concepts as collaborative learning approaches.

Mark Ackerman

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

is the George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and a Professor in the School of Information and in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His major research area is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), primarily Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), investigating collaborative information access in online knowledge communities, medical settings, and expertise sharing.