POP-UP RURAL SOCIALLY-INNOVATIVE HUBS – CASE STUDY FROM CROATIA
This paper presents formation of the first pop-up rural socially-innovative hubs in Croatia through the cooperation of higher education institutions, civil society organizations, students, alumni and local people in the specific rural communities of Međimurje and Split-Dalmatia County. The main purpose of the hubs is to develop, test and validate an inclusive and participative program of service learning in the field of sustainable rural development. Pop-up rural hubs are mobile model of service learning that functions as an occasional event in the local community, to which all interested initiators are invited to join. From the sociological perspective, the most important aim of this project is to strenghten rural local communities through the launch of socio-innovative sustainable micro-entrepreneurial activities by using local resources. Through pop-up rural hubs, business ideas and plans are tested, and through additional mentoring and business plan, initiators were able to send the product or service on the market. Although the project is not over yet, the preliminary results show that pop-up rural socially-innovative hubs, within a period of one year project duration, stress the differencies and similarities between local communities in different parts of rural Croatia, enhance human capital and have a social impact on higher education institutions, civil society organizations, students, alumni and local people.