HUMpraxis tackles societal challenges – from violence and drugs to sustainability

Six combined research and practice projects are to provide new insights and solutions to specific societal challenges – from sustainability and dementia to drug use and violence. The projects have received grants totalling DKK 33.3 million from VELUX FONDEN’s HUMpraxis programme.

New HUMpraxis call 

VELUX FONDEN is currently inviting expressions of interest under the cross-cutting HUMpraxis programme. The deadline for submitting expressions of interest is 23 February 2022 at 13:00.

See the HUMpraxis call 2022 (in Danish)

“VELUX FONDEN aims to advance Denmark’s democratic society on an informed, inclusive and sustainable basis. In the HUMpraxis programme, we focus on gaining new knowledge of and specific solutions to the social and environmental challenges we face. The six projects that are being awarded this year’s grants show how professionals and practitioners can deepen the knowledge of humanities researchers and offer practical insights into problems and opportunities. Close interaction throughout the project cycle is crucial if the research is to be effectively translated into concrete changes,” says Henrik Tronier, head of VELUX FONDEN’s humanities programme.

The six projects will focus on providing solutions to problems in very different areas, all of which are highly relevant to individuals and society as a whole. Two of the projects focus on sustainability and zoom in on combating food waste and establishing green residential communities. Two projects set out to help victims of violence and families of accident victims. And the last two projects will examine care of people with dementia and young people’s use of psychedelic drugs.

The application process

VELUX FONDEN received a total of 108 expressions of interest for the HUMpraxis2021 call. The six projects awarded have been selected from the 12 projects which, on the basis of their expressions of interest, were invited to submit full applications and received project maturation funds of up to DKK 100,000. With the funds, the projects have, among other things, been able to free up time from the practice participants for the development and clarification of a full application to the foundation.

In the projects, humanities researchers from University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and the University of Southern Denmark will work closely with professionals from municipalities, hospitals, associations and advisory services.

Greening communities

Quentin Gausset, Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen, heads the research project ‘Create together: From Grey Housing Associations to Green Housing Communities’, which aims to increase sustainability in Denmark by promoting environmental behaviour:

“Our previous research shows that residents in green communities have a significantly lower carbon footprint than the Danish average. The communities encourage sharing knowledge and experience and reinforce the residents’ motivation, commitment and mutual support when it comes to acting sustainably,” he says, and emphasises:

“We want to contribute to the green transition by cracking the code for creating viable communities. Together with people working in this field, we want to develop tools to help establish and scale up new green communities in different residential areas with different types of homes. Good green residential communities provide economies of scale and enable various forms of exchange and sharing economies. And greater sustainability and a richer social life in the community also contribute to significantly higher life satisfaction.”

The six projects:
Create together [Green Housing Communities]...

From Grey Housing Associations to Green Housing Communities

Primary applicant: Associate Professor Quentin Gausset, Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen

Granted amount: DKK 6.413.993

The project takes its starting point in recent research showing that collective action in green communities entails considerable changes in environmental behaviour and a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of the community’s members. Based on these results, the project:

  1. Explores the possibilities and conditions needed to create new green neighbourhoods, either from scratch, or on the basis of existing housing associations
  2. Develops tools and manuals helping in overcoming administrative and organisational barriers in order to facilitate the creation of new green neighbourhoods
  3. Evaluates the environmental and social impact of new green neighbourhoods
  4. Studies how green neighbourhoods can be upscaled nationwide

The project is a collaboration between four core partners (University of Copenhagen, Naboskab, Bærebo, Omstilling Nu) and various Danish municipalities, housing organisations, and other partners with a stake in promoting the green transition in the housing sector.

Fighting food waste...

 - Exploring the interplay between values, choices and habits

Primary applicant: Associate Professor Karina Kim Egholm Elgaard, Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen

Granted amount: DKK 4.954.415

In Denmark, there is wide agreement that food waste should be diminished, cf. UN Sustainable Development Goal no. 12 concerning responsible consumption and production. Nevertheless, according to the Danish Ministry of Environment, Denmark annually generates 814,000 tons of food waste. A considerable amount of this waste is generated late in the value chain, in the retail sector and among consumers – and in the interplay between them. This project sets out to explore which barriers and opportunities can be identified when it comes to fighting food waste in the interaction between consumers, the retail industry and food waste organisations.

The project is a collaboration between researchers from the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Law and the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen and four key stakeholders in the fight against food waste: Forbrugerrådet Tænk, FødevareBanken, Stop Spild Lokalt and Salling Group. Through interdisciplinary research and close ties to practice, the project aims to contribute to the understanding of food waste as a complex societal problem and develop new initiatives in the fight against food waste.

Afterthoughts [violence]...

An Anthropological-Philosophical Investigation of the Ethical aspect in Victims' Responses to Wrongdoing

Primary applicant: Associate Professor Thomas Brudholm, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen

Granted amount: DKK 5.787.849

Afterthoughts mobilises the Humanities for a research-based project to the benefit of persons (resident in Denmark) who have been, or continuously are, exposed to serious wrongdoing and injury in Denmark. Being exposed to violence has many consequences; physically, mentally, socially and legally but also morally.

The project brings together scholars from philosophy, anthropology, religion and psychology with a nation-wide cluster of Danish practitioners in order to secure the development and integration of research-based ethical perspectives into the help we, in Denmark, offer to victims of various kinds of violence. The aim is to improve our ability – across professions and specialisations – to understand and communicate with people who struggle with the moral reminders of victimisation.

The project is carried out as a collaboration between the Danish Womens’ Society’s Shelters, the rehabilitation clinic at DIGNITY - the Danish Institute against Torture, Victim Support Denmark, and scholars from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Copenhagen.

Existence and adaptation in everyday life for relatives...

Primary applicant: Psychologist, assistant professor Sophie Lykkegaard Ravn, Accident Victims Denmark

Granted amount: DKK 5.780.263

When a person is exposed to a serious accident with lasting consequences, the close relatives are often also profoundly impacted. Unfortunately, there is rarely a focus on the relatives’ adjustment processes and needs and we know little about their feelings and existential challenges. In addition, we also lack initiatives and interventions targeting the relatives.

This close collaboration project between research and praxis aims to address some of these issues in order to support relatives foster positive changes in their everyday life. We aim to generate new knowledge and insights into key adaptation processes and themes relevant to this group of relatives, and – in combination with mapping existing knowledge – the purpose is to develop and test targeted and effective interventions that can be implemented into praxis for the benefit of the relatives.

Praxis is represented by the patient organisation Accident Victims Denmark and its specialised rehabilitation hospital Specialized Hospital for Polio and Accident Victims, who are also the main applicant, while the research team consists of researchers affiliated with Aarhus University, the Research and Consulting House of DEFACTUM, and University of Southern Denmark. The project has a strong focus on involvement of relatives, dissemination, transferability and implementation.

The psychedelic Renaissance [drugs]...

The Internet, modern drug-use and municipal measures of prevention and treatment targeting young people’s use of psychedelics in Denmark

Primary applicant: Associate Professor Margit Anne Petersen, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research, Aarhus University

Granted amount: DKK 4.694.514

Psychedelic drugs have received much attention in recent years. The enthusiasm shown in medical circles for these drugs as a potential future method of treatment is reflected both in the increasing number of internet fora concerned with psychedelics and in the stream of stories, in the media and within popular science, about the positive effects of the drugs on self-development and mental well-being. Overall, this development has been termed ‘the psychedelic renaissance’, which points towards new understandings and new ways of using psychedelic drugs in current society.

The project is based on a social learning perspective which focuses on the social, cultural, and discursive processes that shape young people’s use of drugs, particularly on the internet. This focus helps to gain insight into how these processes influence the use of psychedelic drugs among young people in Denmark, as well as how the processes might take part in developing practices within prevention, counseling and treatment. The aim of the project is:

  1. To explore how young people’s understanding and use of psychedelics are influenced by the digital and discursive tendencies which are to be seen in the present use of psychedelics
  2. To develop and test practical measures to digitally prevent and treat the (problematic) use of psychedelics among young people.

The project is carried out through a close collaboration between Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research at Aarhus University and ‘the Youth Centre’ at The Municipality of Aarhus, which works with prevention and treatment of drug use among youth.

Windows of Opportunity [dementia ]...

Everyday Creativity as Condition and Resource in Life with Dementia

Primary applicant: Associate Professor, Rasmus Dyring, School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University

Granted amount: DKK 4.622.481

Whether dementia is framed as a socioeconomic challenge or experienced as an existential situation of despair and hopelessness, the disease is conceived in terms of a narrative of decline, of the loss of cognitive ability and perhaps even human dignity. This project challenges the narrative of loss by exploring and promoting the creative potentials of everyday life as they unfold between people living with dementia, relatives, caregivers and others in the institutional and family-based dementia care. The main hypothesis of the project is that a heightened enactment of everyday creativity in life with dementia entails a positive impact on the well-being of all involved parties.

The aim of the project is to develop action-oriented concepts for use in the institutional and family-based contexts of care, which promote the inclusion of people with dementia as active co-constituents of the lifeworlds they inhabit. The project will develop and implement the “Window of Opportunity” as a reflection tool.

The theoretical and practical work is carried out in close collaboration between the partners in the project: The School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University; The Dementia Care Section, The Municipality of Horsens, and VIVE – The Danish Center for Social Science Research.

Anna Høxbro Bak
Communications Adviser, THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS
+45 22 64 03 55