Increasing diversity in Real-world labs

Science and society are shaping the future together. Real-world labs provide the space for, in which sustainability is advanced and researched. ITAS research projects advocate for more diversity among the participants of their Real-world labs.
ITAS-Mitarbeiter präsentiert ein Solarpanel vor Bürger*innen für das Projekt Dein BalkonNetz.
Joint installation of solar panels.
Projektmitarbeiterinnen und -mitarbeiter demonstrieren die Funktion eines Solarpanels.
Project staff members demonstrate the function of a solar panel.

The project Dein BalkonNetz – Energie schafft Gemeinschaft (Your balcony network – Energy creates community) wants to inspire the broadest possible public for the energy transition. To this end, the project distributes balcony modules (small, plug-in solar panels) to interested citizens to build an inclusive solar power grid with them. This aims to create a community in which everyone feels welcome and comfortable. The network should make a positive contribution to all.

In the project’s podcast Labor Zukunft. Forschung ohne Kittel (Future Lab – Research without lab coats), Jennie Stephens explains: “We cannot always say ‘Oh, it would be nice if those people would participate in our projects’. We rather have to change our projects in such a way that it makes sense for them to join us.”

The BalkonNetz offers a multitude of reasons why it is worthwhile for citizens to participate: from financial benefits by generating their own electricity, to fun with technology, to the positive feeling of doing something for the environment.

How exactly does Dein BalkonNetz promote diversity among the participants?

In contrast to many energy-related research projects, Dein BalkonNetz on the one hand specifically addresses groups that have so far been less involved in the shaping of the energy transition – above all women and renters. On the other hand, the technical aspects of the topic are linked to other sustainability fields, such as urban gardening. In addition, the structure of Dein BalkonNetz provides the opportunity to easily add other activities. By now, the project has been extended by a cooperation with the Karlsruhe Energy and Climate Protection Agency (KEK) in order to give even more people access to the energy transition.

The ITAS project DuPa (Dual-Mode Participation: Window of Opportunity for Inclusive Real-World Labs) provides accompanying research for Dein BalkonNetz and other real-world labs and experiments. DuPa investigates how participating citizens can be successfully brought together and what effects will result for the community and the individuals. (13.09.2021)


Are you interested in participating in Dein BalkonNetz or other Real-world experiments in ITAS? Please contact the co-project heads of Dein BalkonNetz Paula Bögel (paula.boegel∂ and Marius Albiez (m.albiez∂

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