MSc course Sociology of Food Provisioning and Place-based Development

On the 16th of March 2015 the MSc course ‘Sociology of Food Provisioning and Place-based Development’ (RSO-31806) starts. Students that want to participate in this course can contact the course coordinator Han Wiskerke ( as the deadline for online registration has passed.


The course aims to provide a theoretical, empirical and methodological understanding of place-based development processes, with an emphasis on food provisioning and rural and territorial dynamics in urbanizing societies. The course is based upon recently completed and ongoing research activities within two of the main research domains of the Rural Sociology Group:

  1. The sociology of food provisioning;
  2. The sociology of place-based development.

Being based on recently completed and ongoing research projects implies that this course provides an up-to-date  insight into current theoretical debates and research findings. These are mainly derived from international collaborative research programmes (see ‘our projects’), carried out by multi-disciplinary research teams in different countries inside and outside Europe. Within and linked to these programmes the Rural Sociology Group has approximately 30 ongoing PhD projects. Some of these projects will also feature during this course.

The course is divided into four main themes:

  1. Food, place and resilience (week 1). In the first week of the course we will outline the theoretical and societal context and background of patterns of food provisioning and territorial development by questioning the importance (or irrelevance) of place in food provisioning practices and territorial development and if, why and how the significance of place has changed during the past decades. Key issues are diversity in development patterns, dynamics in time, placeless and place-based food provisioning and territorial development, and the resilience of places.
  2. Food, place and citizenship (weeks 2 & 3). In the second and third week of the course the focus will be on the role of civil society in food provisioning and place-based development. After decades of state-led development after World War II, followed by a wave a neo-liberalism that commenced in the 1980s, we are now witnessing a large variety of citizen-led food provisioning and local development initiatives. The dynamics of these initiatives will be discussed and we will critically assess to what extent these initiatives and movements embody new forms of citizenship and democracy. Key topics are food citizenship, food democracy, food sovereignty, community development and do-it-yourself democracy.
  3. Food and place: identities and strategies (weeks 3 & 5). In the fourth and fifth week of the course we will examine the identities of food and places (and the significance of food for the identity of a place) and the strategies developed by different stakeholders (SMEs, local authorities, civil society organisations) to protect and valorise these identities. Key issues are food quality, geographical indications and place branding.
  4. Resilient city region food systems (week 6). In the last week of the course the focus will be on city region food systems, i.e. the ways in which urban and rural areas are linked by the ecological, social and economic aspects of food provisioning processes. This interdependence has expressed itself in an ongoing reorganization of rural spaces to serve the requirements of urban food consumption, at the expense of equitable and sustainable development to the disbenefit of both urban and rural communities. Through the concept of city region food systems we will explore how the linkages between urban centres and their surrounding rural areas can be made more resilient and more effective in delivering a range of public goods. Key issues are urban-rural linkages, city-region food systems, resilience and public goods.


For more information about aims, learning outcomes, educational activities, schedule and mandatory literature, please check the Course Guide RSO-31806 (2014-2015).