RESPONSE Summer School 2021

Responsible Research, Innovation and Transformation in Food, Plant and Energy Sciences

Summer School cover image

13-17 September 2021, Wislikofen, Switzerland


Societal transformation through innovation and research are key elements in the discussion how the global community could overcome its complex problems, related to environmental, social and economic constraints in a resource-limited world. Innovation conflicts arise when transformation is mainly technological driven and is not taking up the environmental, ethical, legal and social issues of society. In response scientists are asked to take a role in science-in-society dialogue and especially if their research is related to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


What does science-in-society mean?

We need knowledge, innovation and solutions that are adapted to societal needs and are co-produced between different stakeholders including scientists. In this process, public and stakeholder engagement is key – welcoming actors from civil society as partners to express their values and interests in scientific, technological and innovation choices. As a result, we have to re-think the scientific re-search process, opening spaces for the public at the beginning of a re-search project. The aim is to generate participative change and facilitate transformation of complex systems for a sustainable and equitable future.

In this summer school, we will implement the Responsible Research and Innovation framework to exemplary case studies addressing challenges of the 21st century: in sustainable food systems, sustainable transitions in the energy sector; and sustainable land use decisions and to the participants own research projects.
Tools and methodologies to work with: 

•    Design thinking;
•    value-based design;
•    human-centred design;
•    social labs and their methodologies; and
•    citizen science approaches.

The summer school is carried out jointly between Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center, World Food System Center and Energy Science Center.

Speakers & Case Study Supervisors

  • Martijn Sonnevelt, WFSC, ETH Zurich 
  • Christian Schaffner, ESC, ETH Zurich
  • Fritz Kleinschroth, ETH Zurich
  • Marco Mazzotti, ETH Zurich
  • Daan Schurbier, De Prooffabrik, Netherlands
  • Alessandra Schmidt, FabLab Barcelona
  • Sonja Meller, DigitalSoil
  • Verena Lütschg, About Tomorrow Consulting, Zurich 
  • Walter-de-Boef,  WUR and WCDI, University of Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Anaïs Sägesser, STRIDE - the UNSCHOOL, Zurich
  • Mascha Gugganig, University of Ottawa, Canada & TU Munich, Germany
  • Gerhard Schmitt, ETH Zurich
  • Nina Wang, University of Zurich
  • Philipp Bossard, YASAI, Zurich
  • Simon Meister, Low Impact Food
  • Michael Augsburger, Spark Works, ETH Zurich
  • Melanie Paschke, PSC, ETH Zurich and Universities of Zurich and Basel

Organization of Student Work

Before Summer School:

  • Preparatory reading: Students will need to read the assigned literature before the summer school

During Summer School:

  • Sessions are composed as lectures, best case examples, discussions, workshops and case study work
  • Group work will be done on case studies, individual working time on this group work is expected to be 10h
  • Presentation and integration: At the end of each afternoon to the sounding board
  • Case study presentations on day 5

After Summer School:

  • Groups submit a finalized version of their case study for inclusion in the  proceedings. (Information on this is provided during the summer school.)


Priority will be given to students enrolled in one of the following PSC PhD programs: 

  • First priority will be given to the fellows of the RESPONSE Doctoral Programme (DP) «RESPONSE - to society and policy needs through plant, food and energy sciences». 
  • Second priority will be given to PhD students enrolled in the PhD Program Science and Policy or the PhD Program Plant Sciences.

Other MSc students, PhD students and PostDocs at University of Zurich, ETH Zurich or University of Basel as well as students from other national or international universities are welcome if places are available.


PhD students in the RESPONSE Doctoral Programme (DP), PhD Program Science and Policy or the PhD Program Plant Sciences: no fee

PhD Students registered at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School (LSZGS): CHF 150.

All other participants (incl. national and international Master students, PhD students and PostDocs): CHF 300.

The fee covers board, lodging and activities during the summer school study week. Travel expenses are not included.

Students are expected to arrive at the venue on Monday morning, September 13, 2021.

For cancellation less than four weeks before the summer school a late cancellation fee of CHF 150 applies.

Date and Venue

13–17 September 2021, Study week in Wislikofen (Canton Zurich):

Propstei Wislikofen: Seminarhotel und Bildungshaus


Registration until July 28, 2021

Priority is given to PhD students enrolled in RESPONSE doctoral program. Places are reserved for them until May 20, 2021. Afterwards open places will be opened to PhD students of Plant Sciences, Science & Policy, LSZGS and other programs. For details on priorities see Eligibility.

For PhD students not enrolled in the Response DP:  

Please submit your CV, a short motivation statement (5-10 sentences) and a description of your research project in a merged pdf.

Evaluation of the incoming registrations will be based on the participant’s education, link of personal research work to the summer school topics and motivation statement.




Zurich-Basel Plant Sciene Center:

Dr. Melanie Paschke, Dubravka Vrdoljak and Dr. Luisa Last


This program receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847585 - RESPONSE.

Questions about this Summer School? Contact (Coordination):

Email: Dubravka Vrdoljak