Wageningen University Teacher of the Year Nominee #1: Jessica Duncan

The first contender for the annual award of the University Fund Wageningen (UFW) is, according to the jury, a lecturer who is to be praised for her enthusiasm and audacity. Someone who is not afraid to tackle her lectures in a different way and is always open to feedback on her methods.

At the Rural Sociology Group we are very proud that Jessica Duncan is one of the six nominees for the Teacher of the Year award. The official ceremony in which the Teacher of the Year Award 2017 will be handed out is on April 6, 2017.

Education for Urban Agriculture & Urban Green Entrepreneurship

On the 30th of March there will be a Green Train event in Almere, hosted by RUAF:

Urban Green Train Multiplier Event
Date: Thursday 30 March 2017 14.00 – 17.30
Location: Aeres, Almere, Stadhuisstraat 18 Almere

Urban Agriculture is increasingly seen as a promising area for new business development. However, starting an Urban Farm requires a variety of knowledge and skills. Knowing how to cultivate plants or rear animals does not guarantee success; you also need to be able to analyse markets and social networks, plan and respond strategically to new trends, as well as to manage and monitor results once your businesses is up and running. It is also crucial to be innovative, sustainable and make optimal use of multifunctional resources. The Urban Green Train project, that was realised in the last years with a team from 4 European countries, encourages and supports pioneering business initiatives in Urban Agriculture by strengthening knowledge exchange, cooperation and innovation between Higher Education Institutions, Small & Medium Enterprises, NGOs and policy makers. In this multiplier event, we share some of our findings and results, including an innovative Training course on Urban Agriculture, innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information about this event, click here.

Gender & Diversity in Sustainable Development

 

PhD Course Gender and Diversity

Wageningen University’s School of Social Sciences  (WASS) will be offering a PhD course in May and June 2017 called Gender and Diversity in Sustainable Development.  Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan, both from RSO, will lecture in this course.

Date Mon 22 May 2017 until Fri 16 June 2017
Time 09:30
Venue Leeuwenborch, building number 201
Hollandseweg 1
201
6706 KN
Wageningen
0317-483639

Inequality lies at the center of current debates about sustainable development, from which a number of policy issues, including Sustainable Development Goals, emanate. Yet, how social (in)equality contributes to creating sustainable development often remains invisible in research. This course enables participants to recognize linkages between gender and diversity and sustainable development in a contemporary globalising world.

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction: key concepts in gender studies
  • Trends form a historical perspective
  • Economics: macro and micro perspectives
  • Work and care
  • Population and migration
  • Food security and governance
  • Environment and natural resource management
  • Global politics

 

This course will be a seminar. We will take a highly interactive learner-centered approach that combines short lectures with group-based learning activity and discussion. A series of instructors with gender and diversity expertise from WUR and other universities will discuss the relevance of the themes discussed in our class to their own domains.

More information is available here: http://www.wur.nl/en/Education-Programmes/PhD-Programme/Graduate-Schools/Wageningen-School-of-Social-Sciences/Courses/Show-1/Gender-Diversity-in-Sustainable-Development.htm

Agricultural cooperatives and the social economy in Kenya – IMRD thesis by Jordan Treakle

treakle-dairy-cooperative-in-kenyaLast autumn Jordan Treakle successfully defended his Master of Science thesis ‘Agricultural cooperatives and the social economy in Kenya’s changing governance landscape’ in Wageningen’s Rural Sociology Group to complete his International Master in Rural Development. Below a synopsis of the thesis.

The thesis research examines the socio-economic challenges facing family farmers in Kenya, and provides a critical analysis of how producer organizations support small-scale dairy farmers to adapt to governance, environmental, and market changes in the country. Small-scale dairy, mixed with field crops, is a common livelihood activity for a majority of family farmers in Kenya, providing both a source of subsistence food security and income generation in formal and informal markets (both local and national). But Kenyan farmers are facing a number of challenges in 2017: an on-going severe drought, increasing conflict over access to pasture lands, and dwindling access to farmer support services as the national government both liberalizes the agriculture sector and decentralizes political power to the 47 counties. Understanding how Kenyan farmers adapt to these challenges calls for researching the role of Kenyan agricultural cooperatives as these organizations are central to the livelihoods of a majority of the Kenyan population: a stunning 80% percent of Kenyans derive their income directly or indirectly through cooperative activities, and cooperatives account for 40% of all sales across the agriculture sector. As a key provider of social and economic services, cooperatives help farmers gain access to formal markets, engage government institutions, and improve their production practices. Thus the cooperative dairy sector, and the services and opportunities brokered through this sector, can be analyzed as a nexus, offering insight into how farmer collective action is both shaping local food system and facilitating farmer adaptation to Kenya’s changing agriculture governance landscape.

Through 22 qualitative semi-structured interviews with cooperative leaders, farmers, and key civil society and government informants, the research identified a number of emerging roles of cooperatives in the family farming sector:

  • Cooperatives as brokers of social and economic services: As semi-capitalist entities, small-scale dairy farmers are only partially embedded in formal markets, but engage in a number of social systems critical to farmer livelihoods. Thus cooperatives provide different services to support farmers in these overlapping spheres. Examining these organizations through a social economy theoretical lens illustrates how agricultural cooperatives provide both economically and socially-orientated services ranging from access-to-credit to political advocacy. In particular, a number of interviewees associated cooperative social services, such as agricultural knowledge transfer, with the concept of farmer “empowerment” and strengthening social cohesion. Thus access to social services is an important, although often overlooked, component of sovereign and sustainable small-scale farmer livelihoods.
  • Supporting farmer adaption to socio-political changes: In response to agricultural governance changes (political decentralization and economic liberalization) and the growing concentration of the dairy processing sector (which is putting economic pressures on dairy producers), agricultural cooperatives are increasingly attempting to adapt their farmer services to respond to the withdrawal of the State and market failures in the agriculture sector. But in many cases cooperatives are finding this transition to providing a broader spectrum of services difficult, often due to lack of technical capacity. Ultimately this means that cooperatives are increasingly playing a critical farmer support role, but are becoming economically under-cut by more market-oriented dairy businesses.
  • Drivers of inclusive development: Cooperative organizational structure, with farmer agency and democratic voting at its core, leads to more inclusive agricultural development opportunities. Through this more participatory producer organization model a diversity of farmers become leaders of their own development, but require greater (and challenging) coordination. On the other hand, more market-driven milk bulking associations, which are growing in number in Kenya and competing directly with cooperatives, trend toward supporting (and sometimes more efficiently) more commercial and larger-scale producers. How both of these models engage with farmers and government institutions have important implications for family farmer and agricultural development in Kenya.

The research concludes that agricultural development stakeholders have a strategic opportunity to support cooperatives in brokering farmer access to a broad range of both social and economic services for improved production, innovation, and social development. Given the prevalence of cooperatives in Kenya, and farmer trust in these organizations to deliver fair benefits and services to their members, cooperatives can play a critical facilitating role to link farmers to service organizations through coordinated and inclusive collective action, and in-turn strengthening smallholder agriculture in the country.

To access the full thesis you can click here and for more information you can contact Jordan at jtreaks@gmail.com.

Opportunity for Wageningen students: Study at Kyoto University

wp_20160526_12_28_46_proThe Rural Sociology Group and the Graduate School of Economics at Kyoto University have a close collaboration for several years. As a result, Wageningen University and Kyoto University have signed a student exchange agreement, and now in the process of strengthening our collaborative partnership through the Platform for Global Sustainability & Transcultural Studies (see http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/). For students who are interested in studying at Kyoto University in the academic year 2017/2018 (from April 2017 to March wp_20160527_15_06_26_pro2018) for a period of approximately 4 months, or who are interested in doing their internship or master thesis research at Kyoto University, we have secured funding. If you are interested in studying in Kyoto, the centre of Japanese culture and scholarship please contact Joost Jongerden at the Rural Sociology Group.  

PhD course on place

Coming April and May we organize a PhD course called “the politics of place”. With James Ferguson, Hannah Wittman and Scott Prudham we will  explore and discuss a range of issues related to place and politics, such as place and new understandings of citizenship, social movements, capital & ecology and redistribution. The course will be a mixture of lectures, discussion and tutorials. For more info see:

https://www.wur.nl/en/activity/The-politics-of-Place-Spatial-thinking-in-the-social-sciences.htm

 

 

Book Launch: Yearbook of Women’s History 36 (2016)

yearbook-cover

You are all welcome to the launch of Gendered Food Practices from Food to Waste

  •  Wednesday 22 February 2017 / 15.00-17.00 
  • Impulse / Wageningen Campus, Building 115,Wageningen University
  • Address: Stippeneng 2, Wageningen

Program

There will be coffee and tea upon arrival. Guest-editors Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan (from RSO) will give a short presentation and hand over the first copy to professor J.M. van Winter, professor emerita of medieval history, expert in food history, and main benefactor of the Yearbook of Women’s History.

Curator of the National Museum of Education Jacques Dane will give a presentation of his contribution to the volume on Domestic Science in and outside the Dutch Classroom in the period 1880-1930.

Registration:  Please RSVP before 19 February to e.c.walhout ( a ) hum.leidenuniv.nl (Evelien Walhout).

About the volume

In nearly all societies gender has been, and continues to be, central in defining roles and responsibilities related to the production, manufacturing, provisioning, eating, and disposal of food. The 2016 Yearbook of Women’s History presents a collection of new contributions that look into the diversity of these gendered food-related practices to uncover new insights into the shifting relations of gender across food systems. Authors explore changing understandings and boundaries of food-related activities at the intersection of food and gender, across time and space. Look out for intriguing contributions that range from insights into the lives of market women in late medieval food trades in the Low Countries, the practices of activist women in the garbage movement of prewar Tokyo, the way grain storage technologies affect women in Zimbabwe, through to the impact of healthy eating blogs in the digital age.

Editors: Bettina Bock and Jessica Duncan (guest-editors), Eveline Buchheim, Saskia Bultman, Marjan Groot, Evelien Walhout and Ingrid de Zwarte

 

 

A tribute to Jan Douwe van der Ploeg – The walking teacher

jd-wandelleraar-coverToday, January 26 2017 at 16.00 p.m. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg gave his farewell address ‘The importance of peasant agriculture: a neglected truth‘. It was lived broadcasted at WURTV and can watched again here. As a tribute to his standing career the Rural Sociology Group has offered him a magazine with contributions by a selection of all those he encountered on his enduring journey as a ‘wandelleraar‘ (walking teacher) and were inspired with his plea for a peasant style of farming (or ‘boerenlandbouw‘ in Dutch) and, in turn, inspired him to continue. A struggle he will without doubt continue after his official retirement. Below a part of the introduction. The magazine can be downloaded here. Most contributions are in Dutch, but quite some in English as well. Continue reading

The Importance of Peasant Agriculture – Farewell address Jan Douwe van der Ploeg January 26, 2017

jd-seminar-1As announced earlier, the Farewell address ‘The importance of Peasant Agriculture: a neglected truth’ by prof. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg will be tomorrow January 26, 2017 at 16.00 in the Auditorium of Wageningen University. It will be live broadcasted at WURTV, see the schedule, but can be watched again as well.