About Dirk Roep

I'm Assistant professor at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. Besides teaching and supervising thesis students, I'm involved in research on regenerative agriculture, food provisioning and place-based development with a particular focus on the transformative practices, joint learning and innovation and institutional reform.

Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: a participatory action-oriented study in Finland – PhD-thesis by Angela Moriggi

June 1 2021, at 11.00 am (CET) Angela Moriggi will defend her PhD-thesis ‘Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: A participatory action-oriented study in Finland‘. See the Abstract below. The full thesis can be downloaded from the WUR Library after the defense ceremony, or by clicking its DOI.

The ceremony will be live-streamed by Weblectures.wur.nl, but is recorded and can be viewed later as well. Angela Moriggi was appointed as research fellow at the EU funded MSCA ITN project SUSPLACE, employed by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) and PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. Since April 2021 she holds a position as research fellow at the Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture, and Forestry (TESAF) of the University of Padova.

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Conviviality virtual conference June 1-7, 2021 – Call for abstracts

The Conviviality conference is co-hosted by the Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre (PERC) and the Wageningen University Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS).

The virtual conference will be from June 1-7, 2021. When interested to participate, please send a 250 word abstract with your name, e-mail address, and affiliation to masseyPERC@gmail.com by Monday, April 5, 2021. Proposals for panels and (digital) roundtable discussions are also welcome. If you would like to propose a panel, please send us a short panel rationale and details of panel participants. Innovative formats are encouraged.

For information see: https://perc.ac.nz/wordpress/conviviality/

Comparing pathways towards sustainability: Lessons on transformative agency from three pioneering farms in Europe – MSc-thesis by Samuel van Rozelaar

Samuel van Rozelaar is a Master student Organic Agriculture has recently completed an excellent and beautifully illustrated MSc-thesis on the transformative agency of three pioneering farmers, all members of the lighthouse farms network, and meticulously reconstructed their transition pathways towards sustainable farming systems. ‘Comparing pathways towards sustainability: Lessons on transformative agency from three pioneering farms in Europe‘ can be downloaded (click on hyperlink). Below the abstract.

Abstract

This thesis offers lessons on the transformative agency of the farmers behind three pioneering farms. This is done by comparing the transformative strategies they applied in relation to the three-fold embedding of their farms, throughout their pathways towards more sustainable farming systems. To reconstruct these pathways semi-structured interviews and pathway mapping exercises were conducted with the main actors on each farm. This data was then coded, categorized and grouped in dimensions that allowed for a comparison of the interplay between strategies and embedding. The resulting 8 lessons show that these farmers persevered in developing, adapting, and moving towards their dreams and visions, despite many critical moments, by applying a range of transformative strategies. Through these strategies they managed to transform their farms in terms of its practices and relations. Throughout this process of transformation, the farmers continuously moved through a learning process, and as such also personally transformed in terms of thinking and doing, which in turn further enhanced their transformative capacities and strategies. Finally, the lessons show that these farmers have managed to create and navigate complex sustainable farming systems by tapping into the knowledge, skills, and resources of others. This shows the significance of the co-creation of contextual knowledge and the capacities to apply it in the transformation towards sustainable food systems. For future research, it is recommended to test to what extent these lessons resonate with other pioneering farms, but also with conventional farms. In addition, it is worth comparing family farms with non-family farms in their transformations towards sustainable farming systems, with a focus on intergenerational differences. In doing so, the frameworks of resilience of social-ecological systems and the adaptive cycle of transformations could be highly useful. Lastly, future research into transformations should also include the role of the relations to non-humans.

Livestream kick-off webinar ‘Political ontologies of modernist agriculture’ by prof. Hugh Campbell

As announced, the first Rural Sociology 75th Anniversary webinar takes place on February 3, starting at 9.00 CET, with a contribution by prof. Hugh Campbell titled “Farming inside invisible worlds: Political ontologies of modernist agriculture”.

The maximum number of registration for the has been reached, but you can follow the webinar live and pose your questions on Youtube! https://youtu.be/r_c-_QJAgj0.

Zes inspirerende voorbeelden van duurzaam landgebruik – brochure @Toekomstboeren

Vereniging Toekomstboeren maakt zich sterk voor duurzame landbouw en ijvert voor langdurig toegang tot land voor beginnende boeren tegen een redelijke vergoeding om een duurzaam bestaan op te kunnen opbouwen.

Een toenemend aantal beginnende boeren, of zij die graag willen beginnen met een eigen boeren bedrijf, zoeken toegang tot land. Ze kunnen niet beschikken over land in eigendom bij de familie of hebben te weinig eigen vermogen om land te kunnen kopen. Vereniging Toekomstboeren heeft de Wetenschapswinkel van Wageningen University and Research ingeschakeld om studenten uit te laten zoeken hoe beginnende boeren op andere wijze dan gebruikelijk, langdurig toegang kunnen krijgen tot land in eigendom bij derden.

Landbouwgrond is erg duur. De pachtprijs van landbouwgrond is navenant hoog. De prijs van landbouwgrond staat niet in verhouding tot wat de oogst aan inkomsten oplevert. De hoge prijs voor landbouwgrond staat een duurzaam gebruik van landbouwgrond in de weg. Voor boeren in het algemeen, en beginnende boeren zonder land bij uitstek, is het erg lastig om een bestaan op te bouwen.

Het door studenten als onderdeel van hun opleiding uitgevoerde onderzoek, richtte zich op een aantal aansprekende praktijkvoorbeelden van andere dan gangbare landgebuiksovereenkomsten, zijnde: a) gezamenlijk of co-eigendom van land door burgers en boeren (commoning) en b) alternatieve pachtconstructies. De vraag was hoe deze andere dan gangbare overeenkomsten in elkaar steken en wat ervan te leren valt voor de betrokken partijen.

De bevindingen zijn samengevat in de brochure ‘Zes inspirerende voorbeelden van duurzaam landgebruik: pachten bij gemeente en boeren in gemeenschap’. Zie ook de projectpagina van de Wetenschapswinkel: https://www.wur.nl/nl/show/Boeren-zonder-land-hoe-is-dat-mogelijk-1.htm

Neem voor meer informatie contact op met Vereniging Toekomstboeren info@toekomstboeren.nl of projectleider dirk.roep@wur.nl

(De)coding a technopolity: Tethering the civic blockchain to political transformation – PhD-thesis by Syed Omer Husain

May 14 2020, at 11.00 am (CET) Syed Omer Husain will defend his PhD-thesis ‘(De)coding a technopolity: Tethering the civic blockchain to political transformation‘. See the Abstract below. The full thesis can be downloaded (click title) from WUR Library after the defence ceremony.

The ceremony will be live-streamed by Weblectures.wur.nl but is recorded and can be viewed later as well. Syed Omer Husain is affiliated as PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. He was employed at the EU-funded MSCA ITN project SUSPLACE.

 

Abstract

This study rests at the intersection of technopolitics, translocal networks and political change. The overall aim of the thesis is to understand, and in turn, influence, the way technology interacts with political transformation. It responds to the fact that social science has thus far neglected to adequately account for and analyze how emerging technologies like blockchain and civic tech influence the way politics is practiced. The main research question guiding the study is how does the design, implementation and use of technopolitical innovations influence the practice of politics. The thesis foregrounds the idea that technopolitical experiments personify a ‘prefigurative politics by design’ i.e. they embody the politics and power structures they want to enable in society.

Conducted as part of the EU-funded SUSPLACE project that explores the transformative capacity of sustainable place-shaping practices, the research was predominantly inspired by a hybrid digital ethnography methodology. The thesis confines its focus to three empirical clusters: technopolitical blockchain projects, government-led blockchain projects and place-based civic engagement technologies. The study delineates how differing politico-social imaginaries play a role in the design and implementation of technopolitical projects; addresses contemporary post-political phenomena such as the depoliticization of agency; and identifies the activation of a place-based geography of political action through digitally-mediated municipal networks. It articulates the language and frameworks necessary to analyze these present-day challenges, while simultaneously developing approaches that can be exported to different domains of political activism.

Technology is not neutral; but neither are its designers and users. The thesis finds that it is through considerable, deliberate efforts, in conjunction with individual and collective choices, that technopolitical innovations can reframe our socio-economic and political realities. The study demonstrates the emphatic and urgent need for researchers, practitioners, politicians and citizens to collaboratively work on redrawing boundaries of access, empowering the citizenry, creating new forms of organization and re-politicizing the economy. It outlines a transdisciplinary research and practice agenda that aims at not only (de)coding the existing technopolitical innovations, but also (re)coding them to create a more equitable system of politics. The thesis concludes that since coding affordances and constraints in a technopolitical system is shown to regulate political agency and even influence the behavior of citizens, we must devise value-driven technology that incentivizes creating a more equitable political system.

Special @SUSPLACE_ITN Feature: Exploring the Transformative Capacity of Place-Shaping Practices

Figure 2: Sustainable place-shaping. Source: Horlings et al. (2020) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00787-w

The SUSPLACE Special Feature ‘Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices‘ is published open access in Sustainability Sciences. It comprises nine articles: eight original research articles and an Introduction article by Lummina Horlings, Dirk Roep, Erik Mathijs and Terry Marsden. From the introduction:

The eight papers in this Special Feature result from the EU funded SUSPLACE collaborative programme that aimed to explore the transformative capacity of sustainable place-shaping practices, and if and how these practices can support a sustainable, place-based development. The programme encompassed 15 research projects investigating a wide range of place-shaping practices embedded in specific settings. From a common framework on sustainable place-shaping, each research project has developed its own theoretical and methodological approach. This editorial explains the overall approach to sustainable place-based development and more specifically the three analytical dimensions of transformative practices, that together propel sustainable place-shaping: re-appreciationre-grounding and re-positioning. After an overview of the eight articles, the contribution to sustainability sciences is discussed. The research programme has provided insight into the transformative agency of practitioners and policymakers engaged in shaping sustainable places, as well as the transformative role of researchers. 

Keywords: Sustainable place-shaping · Transformative capacity · Sustainability sciences · Place-based development

Horlings, L.G., Roep, D., Mathijs, E., Marsden, T. (2020) Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices, 15(2):353–362 Sustainability Sciences,  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00787-w

Thesis opportunity: developing a framework for business models that enhance soil quality

The Rural Sociology Group and Business Economics Group jointly offer thesis opportunities on developing business models that enhance soil quality.

Developing a theoretical framework for business models that enhance soil quality in crop and dairy production.

Soil quality is (rapidly) decreasing in The Netherlands, and thereby endangering future income perspectives of farmers. Moreover, reduced soil quality provokes all kind of negative externalities, such as reduced biodiversity, increased climate-change related risks, etc.. Hence, increasing and maintaining soil quality is a prerequisite for sustainable soil use.

This issue affects a multitude of stakeholders, each with different positions and preferences.

Business models, including various stakeholders and aimed at increasing and maintaining soil quality, are essential to enable farmers taking appropriate measures focused on these aims.

Currently, various initiatives have been taken to develop business models, mostly at a smaller scale. However, for mainstream agriculture to getting involved in improved soil management, a thorough theoretical framework, based on scientific analysis and rooted in (at least) economic and sociological theory, is essential. Only then, essentials of balanced business models can be developed which have the pursuit for larger-scale adoption in practice.

Being a pilot study, the aims of this MSc Thesis research are:

  • Qualitative analysis of real costs of soil management (i.e. monetary and non-monetary costs, such as costs for society) through the application of basic economic (cost) concepts;
  • Qualitative analysis of the stakeholder structure;
  • Definition of business cases and performance of a qualitative SWOT-analysis;
  • Evaluation of several existing business cases against the developed framework.

We are looking for a MSc-thesis student with an interest in the topic and a background in (business-)economics and/or rural/agrarian sociology.

Postdoc vacancy – Developing An Integrative Approach to Regenerative Agriculture, Circular Agri-Food Systems, and Convivial Conservation

We are recruiting a postdoc for the three-year research project ‘Tackling Crises in the Countryside: An Integrative Approach to Regenerative Agriculture, Circular Agri-Food Systems, and Convivial Conservation‘. Apply before January 20, 2020.

Food, farming, and conservation face major, interrelated challenges in the countryside, yet are treated as largely independent in research and policy. This postdoc will explore regenerative agriculture and convivial conservation as two paradigms that aim to address these challenges. The key questions are (1) how can the two paradigms be integrated into a holistic approach, and (2) how can this integrative approach help sustain biodiversity, livelihoods, social equity? Next to developing an integrated approach and assessing the impacts of its application at different integrative levels, the postdoc is expected to disseminate findings and develop an acquisition portfolio.

The postdoc will be positioned at the chair groups of Rural Sociology and Sociology of Development and Change under supervision by Dr Dirk Roep (Rural Sociology) dirk.roep@wur.nl and Mindi Schneider (Sociology of Development and Change): mindi.schneider@wur.nl

This is one of the 15 vacant postdoc positions at the Social Sciences Department of Wageningen University. For more information on requirements and selection procedure see: We-are-looking-for-15-Postdocs-in-social-sciences