Economic Geography

Regional Economies

Current Projects

Moving local economies, dancing for future?

Moving local economies, dancing for future? A transformative economic geographies perspective on dance festivals and their local economic potential

This research project focuses on local cultural geographies as (transformative) economic spaces.

Due to the multiple role of cultural activities as

(1) economic interactions,

(2) leisure activities 

(3) and as an expression of political and social action

cultural economic spaces can be considered as liminal spaces between economic, civil and political actors (e.g. Scott, 1999; Gibson, 2003; Flew, 2010; Oakley & Ward, 2018; Belfiore, 2020; Müller & Grieshaber, 2024). Therefore, they are suitable for capturing a wide variety of pluralistic economic interactions, with potential implications for (economic) transformations towards more socio-ecological justice.

The case study of local dance festivals in Bern and in an comparable European city will be used to investigate the extent to which local (temporary) cultural economic geographies contribute to local and regional economic development. The second research focus is on existing and possible future transformative and "more-than-capitalist" practices in the context of local dance festivals. With the transdisciplinary research design of a real-world laboratory (Wanner et al., 2017; Bergmann et al., 2021), the plan is to co-create and implement a transformative dance festival concept together with practice partners.

The project is supported by the Center for Regional Development (CRED).

A detailed overview of the research design is shown in the graphic above.

Completed Projects

Expert Input for Postulat Brand
Expert Input for Postulat Brand
Description We currently work on ideas related to regional development policies in rural and moutain regions. We submitted an input paper to the seco, which is in charge of working on the so-called Postulat Brand. The Postulat requires the Federal Council to develop a report about the medium to long-term development potentials of Swiss mountain regions. In our paper, we discuss ideas for territorially differentiated regional development policies.
involved Researchers
  • Prof. Dr. Heike Mayer
  • Dr. Delphine Rime
  • Rahel Meili
  • Dr. Reto Bürgin
Link Expert Input for Postulat Brand
 Governance in Regional Development: Features and Functions Using the Examples of the Regional Nature Parks and Their Implementation in the New Regional Policy
 Project Timeline  October 2014-September 2017
 Funding  Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)
 Description This research project characterizes the features of regional governance regimes in Switzerland and evaluates the regime`s functionalities using the examples of nature parks and the New Regional Policy.
Strategies and recommendations to improve the functionality and performance of regional governance regimes are developed.
 Involved Researchers
  • Marco Pütz, WSL
  • Heike Mayer, Universität Bern
  • Martin Müller, Universität Zürich
  • Yasmin Willi, WSL
Federal Strategy For Mountain Areas and Rural Regions in Switzerland (Expert Mandate)
 Project Timeline  January 2013-April 2014
 Funding  State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO
 Description  Based on the so-called Motion Maissen the Swiss Federal Council was assigned to develop a coherent strategy for the development of Swiss mountain and rural regions. We developed several input papers and a final report. 
 Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Paul Messerli, University of Bern
  • Daniel Baumgartner, Ernst Basler & Partner
  • Erik Gløersen, University of Geneva
  • Jacques Michelet, University of Geneva
 AGORA Projekt InnoFutures
 Project Timeline  March 2014 - February 2016
 Funding  Swiss Naitonal Science Foundation
 Description  In a global economy affected by the financial crisis, increasingly interconnected activities and by growing concerns for sustainable development, established models of economic and territorial development are profoundly called into question. This implies not just transposing existing theories and policy practices to new topical fields of action. It fundamentally calls for a new conception of policy intervention and territorial governance. INNO-Futures is a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and which was launched at the universities of Neuchâtel and Bern to promote interactive reflections between policy makers and scholars.
 Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Tina Haisch, University of Bern
  • Olivier Crevoisier, University of Neuchâtel
  • Hugues Jeannerat, University of Neuchâtel
 State Science and Technology Policy Strategies in the United States
 Project Timeline  2007
 Funding  National Governors Association & Pew Center on the States
 Description  For this project we examined science and technology strategies in the United States at the state level and developed recommendations for governors.
 Involved Researchers
  • Heike Mayer, University of Bern
  • Joseph Cortright, Impresa Inc.