About Han Wiskerke

Chair and Professor of Rural Sociology at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) Research domains: rural development, multifunctional agriculture, city-region food systems

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.

Pre-announcement Vacancy Associate or Full Professor in Agrarian Sociology

On the 5th of January 2017 we will open a vacancy for an associate or full professor in agrarian sociology. We are looking for someone with demonstrated excellence in research and education in the domain of agrarian and rural sociology. The associate/full professor will undertake independent research and participate in (and coordinate) international research projects, focusing on topics such as agricultural and rural development, rural-urban transformation processes, transitions towards regenerative agriculture, and the role of (multifunctional) agriculture in rural eco-economies. The associate/full professor will also teach courses for the Bachelor and Master programs International Development Studies and the Master program Organic Agriculture, and supervise Bachelor and Master thesis students for these programs. Other aspects of the job include project acquisition, training and supervision of PhD students and participation in various research and/or education committees. At least 40% of the time will be spent on research, a maximum of 40% on education and approximately 20% on other aspects.

Candidates applying for this position are expected to have the following qualifications:

  • A PhD degree in (agrarian or rural) sociology, human geography or related social science discipline;
  • An inspiring vision on agrarian sociology and the future challenges and priorities for agrarian studies;
  • An excellent track record in research in agrarian/rural sociology, proven by publications in key international journals and by the successful acquisition of research grants;
  • A relevant international academic network, combined with good connections with grassroots networks and policymakers (at different levels);
  • Ample empirical research experience, preferably in different geographical settings;
  • Proven experience in supervision of PhD candidates;
  • Excellent didactic qualities and the capacity to motivate and inspire students;
  • Teaching competences that comply with the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Program (LTHEP, in Dutch referred to as BKO, a system adopted by all Dutch universities) or willingness to follow the LTHEP;
  • Excellent writing skills;
  • Fluency in English and, if appropriate, willingness to learn Dutch.

If you are interested in this position, keep an eye on the vacancies webpage of Wageningen University or create your job alert, so you will be notified when the vacancy opens. Applications can be submitted between 5 January and 8 February 2017. From 9 January 2017 onwards you can contact me (email: han.wiskerke@wur.nl) for more information about the position.

Boekpresentatie ‘Boeren in de Food Valley’

Voor het boek Boeren in de Food Valley sprak Janneke Blijdorp met vijftien agrariërs uit de Gelderse Vallei. Door schaalvergroting verdween de afgelopen decennia tachtig procent van de boerenbedrijven in dit gebied. De overgebleven boeren zetten in op de internationale voedselindustrie of juist op ambachtelijkheid en de lokale markt. De boeren vertellen in het boek over hun motivatie en toekomstverwachting. Vaak zijn zij al generaties lang met het gebied verbonden. Samen leveren de verhalen een verrassend divers beeld op van veerkrachtige ondernemers. Eric Veltink maakte fotoportretten van de boeren en hun bedrijf. U bent van harte welkom bij de presentatie van Boeren in de Food Valley op donderdagmiddag 24 November van 15.00 – 16.30 uur in De Schaapskooi op het erf van melkveehouder Cor den Hartog, Grote Veenderweg 10, 6741 MC Lunteren. Continue reading

Call for papers for special issue on ‘City region foodscapes’

This is a call for papers for a special issue about ‘City region foodscapes’ of the open access journal Sustainability – Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development.

There is increasing broad recognition that food is an integral part of the urban agenda. Cities in different parts of the world are developing policy and programme initiatives related to urban food provisioning. The 2007-2008 food price hikes, and climate-induced disruptions to food supply, have triggered a call for more resilient urban food systems. In addition, alarming increases in diet-related ill-health require cities to ensure access to sufficient, affordable, healthy and safe food to their population. Continue reading

Vacancy for a Lecturer and Education Coordinator Sociology and Anthropology of Development

The section Sociology and Anthropology of Development (SADE) – composed of the Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) and Rural Sociology (RSO) Groups – is looking for a highly motivated person to teach (and coordinate) courses, to supervise BSc and MSc and internships and to plan and coordinate educational activities within SADE, with a view to promote high-quality educational processes. In terms of time allocation it will be a 50/50 division between lecturer and education coordinator.

As lecturer you will co-develop and teach courses in the Bachelor and Master programme in International Development Studies. These courses focus on the sociology of agrarian and rural development, food sociology and sociology of development . The lecturer will give lectures to smaller as well as bigger audiences, lead discussion lectures, and tutor group work. The lecturer should be able to teach in both English and Dutch. Furthermore the lecturer will supervise BSc and MSc thesis students and internship students, which may also include students from other programmes than International Development Studies.

The role of coordinator is a diverse one, in between operational and strategic levels. The preferred candidate will be able to quickly switch between working with the secretariat on executing a range of practical tasks and with the education managers and chairs of SADE as well as broader Wageningen University bodies such as the Educational Institute (OWI) and the programme committees to provide input on strategic and policy levels. A sense of the importance of the smooth functioning of educational processes is expected as well as the ability to set up communication activities (information, public relations, marketing) around educational and other SADE activities. More specifically, the role of education coordinator includes the following main tasks: Continue reading

Dealing with private property for public purposes. An interdisciplinary study of land transactions from a micro-scale perspective – PhD thesis by Sanne Holtslag-Broekhof

Cover PhD thesis Sanne Holtslag-BroekhofOn Monday 6 June 2016 Sanne Holtslag-Broekhof will defend her PhD thesis entitled “Dealing with private property for public purposes. An interdisciplinary study of land transactions from a micro-scale perspective” at 13.30 hrs in the Auditorium of Wageningen University.

The defence ceremony will be streamed live by WURTV but can be viewed later as well. The thesis will be available at WUR-Library after the ceremony has been concluded.

Sanne’s PhD thesis focusses on land transactions between governments and private landowners. During these publicly initiated land transactions, central aspects for landowners are ‘a good solution’ and ‘a feeling of justice’. Ideas on just land acquisition are diverse amongst owners and acquirers, but were related to lawfullness, decentness and equality. During land transactions landowners experience many uncertianties. Landowners deal with these uncertainties by creating expectations and act based on these expectations. The risk to end without replacing land, stops many owners from going to court for expropriation. Yet, a comparison between the last compensation offer during the voluntary negotiations and the final compensation in court shows that the final compensation ends on average 52% higher than the last compensation offer.

Since the economic crisis public parties aim for more facilitative land policy, but have often little experience to cooperate with private landowners. The insights of this research can help public parties to deal more effective and lawful with private property during spatial developments.

 

Participants needed for online survey about sustainable urban and peri-urban food provision!

SUPURBFOOD logo

SUPURBFOOD is an international research project carried out by a consortium of ten research and ten SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) partners, in which novel solutions to urban and peri-urban food provision have been examined in three thematic areas. These thematic areas are: (i) nutrient, water and waste cycles, (ii) short food supply chains, and (iii) multi-functional land use. While positive developments are found in all of these, additional steps are needed to make full use of the potential of these innovations. Hence, the project team formulated a set of recommendations and would like to ask relevant stakeholders (e.g. policymakers, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations) for their opinion about their effectiveness. For that purpose an online survey has been launched, which takes 10-15 minutes to complete. If you considers yourself to be a relevant stakeholder, you are kindly requested to complete the online questionnaire, which is available in seven languages: English, Dutch, German, Italian, Latvian, French and Galician.

Business models in urban agriculture – MSc thesis by Shuang Liu

Urban Agriculture (Shuang Liu)

By Shuang Liu (MSc student in Organic Agriculture)

Urban agriculture is thriving across the world along with rapid urbanization. It is usually valued as a public-good generating activity for its social and ecological benefits. Recently, however, there is a growing trend of urban farmers becoming commercial and they seem to be extremely diversified in practice. Yet, little is known about the business approaches developed by entrepreneurial urban farmers.

In this research, I took urban agriculture as a revenue generating and job creation activity by focusing on more market-oriented projects. I tried to describe individual urban agriculture business operations under the framework of the business model. An online questionnaire was distributed worldwide followed with statistical analysis. The questionnaire was designed using nine business building blocks from Business Model Canvas. Based on the reported business characteristics, a cluster analysis was performed in order to find patterns underlying the diversity of their businesses. In total 46 respondents from 18 countries across 6 continents completed the questionnaire and as sucht contributed to the results of my thesis.

Great diversity in their business operations was found among the 46 projects. Various projects produce a wide range of products and conduct activities for diverse functions. They also manage different relationship with their customers and clients. Distinctions were also found between continents and projects with different purposes. All this heterogeneity brings challenges to describe and understand urban agriculture business. Thus an exploratory cluster analysis was adopted in order to simplify the diversity.

Drawing on the business characteristics, cluster analysis has generated five types of business model: Diversification, Primary Food Production, Value Differentiation, Service Provision and Innovative Operation. For more information about the diversity encountered and for the characteristics of the five business models, please have a look at my MSc thesis

This study provides a rough picture of how initiatives across the world are operating their projects. Classification of business models could be a precursor for future studies on topics such as the relationship between business model and performances, innovation of urban agriculture business models, and economic performance of urban agriculture etc.

For more information you can also contact me: lsabab@163.com

Exploring Dar es Salaam’s foodscape: spatial design meets rural sociology

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Seeing Dar” is the first of a series of publications resulting from my Foodscapes professorship at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture in which I have involved Master students in Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Urbanism in research projects of the Rural Sociology Group. This publication is the result of a 12 week design studio, which commenced with a 10 day field visit of Academy of Architecture students to Dar es Salaam, linked to Marc Wegerif’s PhD project and the work of Daniel Mbisso on markets at the School of Architecture and Design of Ardhi University. The publication is a collection of individual design projects and essays focussing on different aspects of Dar es Salaam’s foodscape: food markets, food and food-related waste, climate change adaptation, gender, public space and distribution infrastructure. For the students the 10 day exploration of Dar es Salaam’s foodscape was crucial to come up with spatial designs that aligned well with the everyday life and cultures of people living, working, travelling and eating in Dar es Salaam. For me it was an interesting experience to link spatial design to sociological research. More publications in which spatial design meets rural sociology will follow later this year and next year.