A4Cap: Alternet Alumni for Capacity Building

About the A4Cap

The A4Cap network (supported by Biodiversa+) is a robust, inclusive, and self-organized body of Alternet alumni dedicated to extending the work, conversations, and community sparked by the Alternet Summer School and providing a lasting platform for capacity-building and networking.

In 2022, Alternet Summer School alumni convened in Spa, Belgium for the first annual assembly of Alternet Summer School alumni–a self-organised activity that began as a combined research workshop and reunion and developed into the A4Cap network to support capacity-building for early career researchers. A4Cap was officially recognized as an Alternet activity in 2024 and is now moving forward with support from Alternet and Biodiversa+.

A4Cap envisions to provide a supportive community for Alternet alumni and early career researchers in the Alternet community to build skills and capacities and to develop their collaborative networks within a horizontal and safe structure.  

To achieve this vision, we aim to:

  • Create a transdisciplinary, collaborative network
  • Create a safe, supportive, and inclusive network by cultivating equitable opportunities and respect among participants
  • Facilitate the development of skills and capacities (e.g. soft skills, methodology-oriented, transdisciplinary, interpersonal and communication skills, etc.)
  • Implement a non-hierarchical and self-organising working structure (see ‘Governance Structure’ below)
  • Preserve the longevity of this network  through maintaining a fun, welcoming atmosphere that encourages continued involvement and offers added value to active alumni (e.g. opportunities for knowledge sharing, capacity-building and collaboration in organisational events)

In all structures, we seek to maintain the long-term inclusion of past alumni while integrating the momentum of new incoming members. This ensures that preexisting knowledge is retained and new energy and perspectives are incorporated. Former alumni orientate and include newcomers via an introduction to the network at the annual assembly and after the summer school. Opportunities for involvement, contribution, and follow-up will be identified to new members which are invited to engage in existing working groups and to form a new working group should new ideas emerge. 

Key Principles

  • A4Cap features a horizontal governance structure where everyone is invited to take on responsibilities and initiate new ideas.
  • We encourage as much as possible the mixing of participants from different years and institutes throughout the structure.
  • We keep the workings of and the commitments in the network as light and flexible as needed to accommodate the reality of unforeseen workpeaks for all members.
  • We aim to have good and transparent relationships with funding structures such as Alternet and Biodiversa+.
  • The network has a horizontal and flexible organisational structure.


The central annual network event is the A4Cap assembly. Held in Spa, Belgium each year since 2022, this assembly brings together alumni for capacity building and features talks, skill sharing sessions, collaborative projects, networking, field trips, and free time for personal work. The energy and community-building experience initiated at the Alternet Summer School in Peyresq is recreated through communal living, recreation, cooking, and conversations.


Prior to the official formation of the A4Cap network, the summer school cohorts of 2019 and 2021 independently organised consortium-building activities as alumni. The 2019 alumni consortium produced a successful Alternet High Impact Actions (AHIA) proposal leading to a paper currently under review. The 2021 alumni consortium conducted research on transdisciplinary education with the Alternet Summer School as a case study and published this in a scientific paper (Atienza Casas et al. 2023) in Biodiversity and Conservation. Both consortia hosted sessions at the 2022 Alternet Conference in Ghent, and the 2021 alumni additionally presented an award-winning poster at the 2022 Ecosystems Services Partnership (ESP) conference. 

These alumni initiatives have highlighted the potential Alternet Summer School has for a more active long-term impact. This potential was especially underlined by Atienza Casas et al. (2023): “the changes experienced at the summer school can indeed contribute to transforming societies. This is supported by constructing a network of people willing to question how we live within the world, engaging in critical thinking, and integrating more transdisciplinarity into science education […] the role of community was highlighted as key for learning how to enact change within society.”

The 2023 A4Cap assembly produced as its key output a report on the network itself, including its long-term vision and governance structure.

"We aim to advise future learning endeavors (like the Alternet Summer School) to strengthen their transdisciplinary nature and highlight links to transformative change."

Atienza Casas et al. 2023

Get involved!

Are you an alumnus or early career researcher/practitioner in the Alternet community interested in becoming involved in the A4Cap network community? Get in touch with us!

Contact us: secretariat@alterneteurope.eu

Biodiversa+ and Alternet actively support the organization of the A4Cap.

Learn more about our key collaboration with Biodiversa+.