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Drawing on and responding to the articles in this special collection, this provocation makes the case that realising justice in education requires a focus on the processes and politics of justice-oriented reform in postcolonial, low- and middle-income counties (LMICs). In implementing reform, it is argued that it is crucial to take account of similarities and differences in context between LMICs. At the heart of reform must be a holistic, coherent and systemic approach at the level of the education system of the institution. Key priorities include reforming the curriculum, investing in educators as agents of change and developing endogenous system leadership that can drive justice-oriented reform. Here, however, it is necessary to engage with the politics of justice-oriented reform, including challenging global, neoliberal agendas, democratising the governance of education and engaging with popular struggles for social, epistemic, transitional and environmental justice.

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This article shares the author’s reflections on what decolonial cracks for recreating UK universities as sustainable pluriversities emerge from encounters and engagement in three arts–research co-productions relating to sustainability and justice: a training process led by a professional storyteller on converting political-ecology research into short, spoken ten-minute stories, the co-production of visual summaries and a role-playing game on sustainable value chains, and the collaboration producing an immersive audiovisual exhibition on ‘Can we fly-less?’.

This article makes an empirically based case that engaging in co-production on arts–research knowledge translation can help identify decolonial cracks to sow the seeds of pluriversity, that is, epistemically diverse institutions for public good that recognise present patterns of colonially rooted injustices and unsustainability, in UK academia. Drawing on relational, deep-listening conversations with six collaborators on the projects, three artists and three researchers, the article highlights benefits arising from the creative collaborations, such as social, transformative learning and critical introspection, and research acquiring a life beyond the page and becoming accessible to a broader audience. However, they also emphasised institutional barriers such as perverse incentives in current academic conventions, such as little or no recognition for knowledge translation, unequal starting points among permanent/precarious or salaried/non-salaried staff, and uncooperative monitoring and application systems, which render identifying these decolonial cracks and seeds necessary. With a methodology rooted in its conceptual, relational approach, the article highlights decolonial cracks in current academia, and transformative seeds to reimagine it in a more decolonial and sustainable image befitting of a pluriversity.

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This article offers a critical approach towards adopting new technologies as a mitigation strategy. It provides a comprehensive analysis that helps illuminate the adoption process and the sociocultural factors intersecting and informing it. Using a capability approach lens and qualitative and participatory data collection methods, this study presents and analyses the testimonies of smallholders living on Colombia’s Pacific coast, currently exposed to a series of interventions that promote changes in production decisions to contribute to reducing national greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, improved forages, silvopastoral systems and new practices, such as the implementation of rotational pasturing, have been promoted as relevant new approaches. The results show that access to new technologies generates new capabilities, for instance the ability to plan for the challenges imposed by climate change or to develop new strategies to allow the soil to recover naturally. However, these new possibilities are unevenly distributed, creating disadvantages for groups that generally experience conditions of vulnerability, such as young farmers and women. The testimonies also show that many of the promoted initiatives emphasise the need for adaptation and change on the part of smallholders without considering the limitations of technology, the gender issues that affect the inclusion of women and the dynamics that set barriers to young smallholders due to economic restrictions or power issues. Therefore, the study contends that, when understanding technology adoption, it is not only a question of what farmers do or do not do but of what they can be and do in increasingly demanding contexts.

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We are living in the age of rapid change characterised by an ageing population, mass immigration, digitalisation, interconnectedness and transformation of the political landscape. The pace of the change is fast and it poses new challenges for the design of public services, but also many new opportunities. This chapter is based on the findings of the Horizon 2020 CoSIE project, building on the idea that public sector innovations can be best achieved by creating collaborative partnerships between service providers (public sector agencies, third sector organisations, private companies) and citizens who benefit from services either directly or indirectly. The goal is to contribute to democratic renewal and social inclusion through co-creating public services by engaging diverse citizen groups and stakeholders in varied public services. This chapter draws together ideas about co-creation, social innovation, social investment and individual and collective values and shows the relationship between these concepts and how they can support innovation in public services.

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Social innovation acknowledges that alternative arrangements between state, market and civil society are called for if innovations are to be sustainable. This chapter examines grassroots-led processes of social innovation in the field of poverty in Flanders, inspired by Ibrahim’s model of grassroots-led development. Inspired by it, we discuss the paradoxes for a politicising approach in the practice of the Flemish grassroots-led social innovation practices, Where People in Poverty Speak Out (WPPSO). We address two central questions. First, we demonstrate that social innovations such as WPPSO that aimed to improve the voice of people in poverty cannot trust only in the quality of the process of grassroots-led social innovation. A process-oriented approach might be a necessary condition for social innovation, but the democratisation of policy processes such as WPPSO do not necessarily create the conditions for concrete enhancements of the living conditions of people in poverty. Our second question was if other factors, outside of the innovation process, also need to be considered. A key external factor was that of encapsulation tendencies in policy production. The participative way of policy making about poverty with the grassroots organisations of people in poverty has brought about a separate domain of poverty policy.

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Contemporary social work presents practitioners with myriad challenges. Upholding human rights, social justice and active citizenship requires social workers to affirm environmental justice and care for planet Earth in and through its professional expertise supplemented by transdisciplinary work with other academic disciplines. This is to enable innovations in social work practice that prepare it for the new demands that will arise through the social dimensions of disasters including climate change–induced ones.

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Written by leading experts from across Europe, this book provides a grounded exploration of innovation in the practice, research and education of social work. It focuses on the role of participation, collaboration and co-creation as key drivers of social innovation within these fields, providing practical examples of social entrepreneurship, people-centred design and participatory led innovation.

The positive outcomes of local social innovations are analysed in the wider European framework, with reflections and recommendations for advancing innovation in policy, service provision, education and research.

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The chapter describes what is meant by co-creation as an innovative approach to service innovation and relates this approach to other innovative developments both in social work practice, policy-making and governance. The focus is on the ‘how’ of co-creation and we present a road map to co-creation and innovation in public services, which was one of the outcomes of the Co-creation of Service Innovation in Europe (CoSIE) project. This has some interesting crossovers with innovative social work methods and reflections in social work field, for instance related to community development, the capability approach, the valorisation of experiential knowledge and (social) dignity.

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The promoters of urban regeneration processes have been mostly committed to the involvement of the inhabitants and stakeholders of their areas of intervention in deprived urban districts by means of innovative practices, such as in the case of nature-based solutions (NBS). In this context, social workers increasingly play a role in engaging citizens in nature-based activities. This chapter explores the research and fieldwork around citizen engagement and the co-creation of NBS in the framework of the URBiNAT project, aiming at an urban inclusive and innovative nature. We present developments and findings in relation to understanding local participatory cultures and identifying significant factors impacting citizen engagement, namely a research construction and instrument to inform the tailoring of participatory methods and tools for the co-design and co-implementation of NBS, as well as a ‘living’ framework of guidelines for citizen engagement and co-creation of NBS. These developments and findings have also paved the way to learning points for other similar city NBS development projects, based on the study of participatory implementations of NBS. We particularly analyse how guideline categories addressing core leverages for successful citizen engagement in the co-creation of NBS are combined according to various city cases.

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Written by leading experts from across Europe, this book provides a grounded exploration of innovation in the practice, research and education of social work. It focuses on the role of participation, collaboration and co-creation as key drivers of social innovation within these fields, providing practical examples of social entrepreneurship, people-centred design and participatory led innovation.

The positive outcomes of local social innovations are analysed in the wider European framework, with reflections and recommendations for advancing innovation in policy, service provision, education and research.

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