Thesis Opportunity: Stakeholder analysis for sustainability a in Central Mexico

A new and exciting RSO thesis opportunity: Stakeholder analysis for regional sustainability analysis in urbanizing landscapes in Central Mexico


Around Mexico-city, rural landscapes have changed significantly – and continue to do so – due to the growth of the city into these rural landscapes. This so-called peri-urbanization occurs in many places in the world and is accompanied by a specific sustainability challenges regarding water management, the role of agriculture in rural communities and the cultural changes that result from this. This MSc thesis will be part of a study of how peri-urbanization has affected the sustainability of three case study regions or watersheds. Regional assessment of the sustainability of natural resource management is complicated by the large range of stakeholder priorities and perspectives. Obtaining an accurate idea of the existing stakeholder’s priorities with regard to the state of the region’s natural resources, the main challenges and their management, is thus an important first step. This gives a basis for the definition of indicators for the sustainability assessment. However, it does not yet enable giving weights to each indicator. A proposed answer to this challenge is to first distil a list of possible sustainability indicators from semi-structured stakeholder interviews, and subsequently ask those same stakeholders to attach a weight or value to these indicators, using pairwise comparisons. The resulting ranking can then be used as an important input to a regional sustainability assessment. Another challenge, still to be resolved, is how to weigh the perspectives of different actors, perhaps according to each actor’s influence and/or importance.

Objective: To define a list of regional sustainability priorities with quantitative weights attached to them, based on the analysis and integration of stakeholder perspectives.


  • Stakeholder selection
  • Semi-structured interviewing
  • Survey development and execution
  • Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • Writing and defending an MSc thesis


  • MSc student in (rural) sociology or related
  • Fluency in Spanish
  • Willingness to do research in Mexico
  • Financial self-sufficiency
  • 5-6 months for the project
  • Start date January 2015 or late July 2015

Contact details

This MSc thesis will be jointly supervised by Dr. Jessica Duncan (Rural Sociology) and Leendert van Wolfswinkel (Farming Systems Ecology).

The project will contribute to the PhD project of Leendert van Wolfswinkel, who will also be the daily supervisor in Mexico. The PhD project is a collaboration between Farming Systems Ecology (WUR), CIMMYT and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.

For more information contact with a statement of interest and a CV.

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About foodgovernance

Jessica Duncan is Assistant Professor in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. Originally from Canada, she lived in France, Spain and the UK before coming to the Netherlands. She holds a PhD in Food Policy from City University London and is the author of the book Global Food Security Governance: Civil society engagement in the reformed Committee on World Food Security (Routledge, 2015, ). Her research areas include: food policy; food security; global governance; environmental policy; participation; rural sociology. She is particularly interested in transitions towards environmentally sustainable food security governance.