Dr Penny Travlou, a Cultural Geographer based in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), has been invited to join a European COST Action on the collaborative economy.

European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) is a framework to close the gap between science, policy makers and society throughout Europe and beyond. One of the ways it supports this is through the COST Action programme.

COST Action CA16121 focuses on the collaborative economy, a term commonly used to refer to a proliferation of initiatives with their roots in peer-to-peer (P2P) shared access to goods and services. Its full title is From Sharing to Caring: Examining Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy and it runs from March 2017 to March 2021, bringing together participants from 25 European countries.

Dr Penny Travlou became involved in the project through her membership of the P2P Foundation, a global network of researchers, activists and citizens monitoring and promoting actions geared towards a transition to a Commons-based society (one that values and protects commons assets, managing them for the benefit of everyone).

Penny’s interdisciplinary research focuses on theories of space and place, the politics of public space, digital culture, distributed networks, 'the Commons' and ethnography. In addition to her academic work, she is actively involved in a number of spatial justice initiatives, including Options FoodLab, a food-related social enterprise in Athens where she looks at refugees' integration in Greece.

As a member of the CA16121 Management Committee, her role will be to coordinate the work package on Collaborative Economy Practices and Communities. As she explains, “this will focus on both online and face-to-face ethnographic research of case studies across Europe, the objective being to systematically analyse practices of digitally-mediated collaborative economies”.

She tells us “The project fits closely with my postgraduate teaching at ESALA. Within my courses, I have included theories and concepts around 'the Commons' and collaborative practices in peer learning and co-creation. I have also supervised MSc dissertations on collaborative economy and ICT in urban strategies”.

Penny Travlou is a Research Fellow in the OPENspace research centre at ECA, where researchers have been involved in two previous COST Actions. In addition to CA16121, she is also working on Medellín Urban Innovation (MUI), a collaborative project led by ECA with Heriot-Watt University.