Call for Papers: Evolving Agriculture and Food – Opening up Biodynamic Research

20141004_134427_AndroidCall for papers open for the 1st International Conference on Biodynamic Research

Call for Papers: Evolving Agriculture and Food – Opening up Biodynamic Research

Taking place at Goetheanum in Dornach (Switzerland), September 5th to 8th 2018

Biodynamic research is done in any agricultural field, in many places of the world using a great diversity of methods and disciplines, getting in touch with many other research areas. Taking an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach, we aim to bring together both academic research and farmer’s expertise to explore and discuss issues in biodynamic food and farming systems. The perspective taken on these issues may be from a classical scientific point of view as well as from an innovative methodical standpoint.

This new biannual event will gather academics, scholars, PhD students, graduate students, farmer-researchers and action researchers from around the world to discuss the latest and most pressing issues in biodynamic agriculture, horticulture and food, dedicating significant attention also to new and alternative researching methods.

The partners of the organizer, the Section for Agriculture at the Goetheanum, are: The Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences of the University of Kassel, the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and Forschungsring (Research in Biodynamic Agriculture, Darmstadt, Germany).

Call for papers is open :

More information  at:

Thesis Opportunity: What is inclusive when it comes to policy?

Thesis Opportunity with Rural Sociology: What is inclusive when it comes to policy?

Proposed title: Inclusive approaches to policy making: Making sense of options for food policy

Key words: policy, inclusivity, civil society, multi-actor, stakeholder, co-production

Context:  There have been increasing calls for more participation in policy making to allow for more inclusive policies. But what does this look like in practice? What models have been developed and tried? What has worked and what hasn’t? What are the implications of trying to be more inclusive. And, what does inclusivity even mean in a policy making context? The goal of this thesis is to start to answer these pressing questions and to related them to food policy.

Objective: The goal of this research is to identify and understand strategies for including people and their lived experiences, into policy making processes.

In this thesis, you will:

  • Undertake a literature review into inclusive governance (theory and practice)
  • Identify examples of inclusive governance from a broad range of sectors
  • Create a database of examples
  • Select an appropriate number of case studies to examine in greater depth
  • Collect data (including via interviews) to support description and analysis

On the basis of this, you will be expected to deliver concrete outputs.


  • Develop a clear research proposal building on a structured literature review and outlining clear methods for undertaking the research
  • Collect relevant literature and empirical cases to support the answering of the research question.
  • MSc thesis conforming to the criteria and quality indicators of the Rural Sociology Group.

Start date:  February or March 2018


  • You are registered in one of the following MSc programmes:


  • You have an interest in participatory policy making, civil society, food security and food sovereignty
  • You have some knowledge about theories of change
  • You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or relevant social science courses)

Supervisor: Dr Jessica Duncan (RSO)

If you are interested, please email Jessica Duncan ( ) with a short letter of motivation.



The @MSCActions project @SUSPLACE_ITN published two video’s

The @MSCActions project on sustainable place-shaping (@SUSPLACE_ITN), funded by the EU-commission and coordinated by the Rural Sociology Group (@RuralSociologyW), has published two video’s.

The first video explains sustainable place-shaping in theory and practice, the second introduces the training and networking. The video’s are produced by the Early Stage Researchers themselves as part of their training. Watch below or go to the You tube SUSPLACE playlist of the Rural Sociology Group.



Knowledge clips reading for the social sciences

Students often ask us how they should read a scientific paper or book chapter, and what they should learn or remember from them. They may struggle with what they see to be too many readings, or express that they have difficulty understanding the main message of the articles we assign for our lectures.

In order to help students make the process of ‘reading for the social sciences’ more efficient and more targeted, Jessica Duncan and me (Esther Veen) designed four knowledge clips to pass on little tips.

The first one discusses the structure most sociological papers follow. In the second we give suggestions on how to read effectively. The third is on the different strategies you may use when you read for different purposes, and the last gives tips and tricks on how to keep track of your reading.

You can watch the clips here. You are welcom to send your feedback to or

Healing gardens in a video

In an earlier post I talked about our pilot project Healing Gardens, which had just started: six (former) cancer patients were gardening under supervision of two enthusiastic volunteers, at Parkhuys (a cancer support center) in Almere. The aim of the pilot was to prepare for a larger study in which we hope to find out to what extent gardening is a useful way to increase physical activity, stimulate healthy eating patterns, and function as effective social peer support.

This pilot has now ended. It has been successful in the sense that the patients really enjoyed the activity. Almost all of them have taken up gardening at home – two of them have even rented an allotment together. Also, the pilot gave us valuable insights which we will use when starting the lager study: the gardening containers were considered too small by most participants, for instance, and it is extremely important to have access to knowledgeable garden supervisors. Currently we are analyzing our results – during the course of the pilot gardeners were interviewed three times, filled out different questionnaires and participated in various fitness tests. We expect the results early 2018.

One of our project partners, Jan Eelco Jansma, explains the aims of our study in more detail in a video. You can also visit our website for more information: Sorry, both are in Dutch. Healing Gardens is a cooperation between Rural Sociology, Human Nutrition, and applied plant sciences, and supported by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and Flevocampus.

Discussing about Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson

On June 27th 2017, the Rural Sociology Group (in collaboration with SUSPLACE and in conjuction with the CSPS Conference ‘The Value of Life’) organised a masterclass on Performative Practices for Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson (Western Sydney University).

The masterclass was well attended, with more than 25 PhDs, researchers and professors joining, from a diversity of geographical and disciplinary backgrounds.

Prof. Gibson opened the meeting with a short presentation of her work on Diverse Economies. Next, we engaged in dynamic ‘fishbowl’ conversations in which 3 participants at a time discussed about a topic or question of joint interest, with prof.  Gibson stepping in and helping to advance the thinking.

We thus actively ‘performed thinking’ on diverse economies!

00:1927:06 Family Economies & Gender (with Maria Borras Escayola, Shivani Kaul and Zulfa Utami Adiputri)
27:1042:42 Participation, Activation & Motivation (with Veerle Boekenstijn, Esther Veen and Inez Dekker)
43:0058:28 Food Economies, prosumers and community gardens (with Sungwoong Jung, Lucie Sovova and Alberto Serra)

Thanks to MSc student Veerle Boekestijn, both prof. Gibson’s keynote and all the fishbowl conversation have been captured on video. We are happy to share them here, with all those that weren’t able to attend the masterclass in person.


‘A Global Sense of Place’ – register now!

RSO-55306_2017.In period 2, from October 30 till December 22, we’ll be teaching again RSO-55306 A Global  Sense of Place: Place-based approaches to development.  Registration for the course is open until October 1, 2017.

A Global Sense of Place  is an optional interdisciplinary course on sustainable place-based development for students from various master programmes (e.g. MDR, MES, MID, MLP, MUE, MOA, MFN). The course builds on the BSc course RSO-56806 Sociology and Anthropology of Place-shaping providing an introduction to place-based approaches in development. Knowledge of this introductory course is an advantage, but is not assumed. The course aims to make students acquainted with an interdisciplinary and place-based approach to development.

A relational place-based approach is seen as key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and ergo sustainable development. In a relational approach places are considered as contingent,but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated interdependent and unbounded transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural. Places are time and space specific constructs, like their boundaries and connections.


Shaping resilient places. Source: Roep, D., Wellbrock, W, Horlings, I, 2015. Raising Self-Efficacy and Resilience in the Westerkwartier: The Spin-off from Collaborative Leadership, In: J. McDonagh, B. Nienaber, M. Woods (Eds.), Globalization and Europe’s Rural regions. Ashgate, Surrey, pp.41-58

By means of this course students will achieve profound understanding in key-concepts and methods on place-based sustainable development. Work from key thinkers in sustainable place-making will be critically discussed and examined on the basis of various cases. Guest speakers are invited to reflect on place-based approaches to sustainable development and illustrate these through case studies. Ultimately students will acquire a place-based perspective on development.

Language of instruction and examination is English. Classes are taught on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.30 -12.30.

Key lecturers: Dr. ir. Joost Jongerden (RSO), Dr. Ir. Dirk Roep (RSO) and Martijn Duineveld (GEO).

For more information, please contact Anke de Vrieze,

Sustainable Food Futures (NEW BOOK)

Food Governance

bok coverVoltaire once said that “no problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking”.

In this book, we put that statement to the test. The problems plaguing food systems are well researched and well known. But how can we support transformation towards sustainable and just food systems?

One thing is clear,  the objective of future food systems can no longer be to simply maximise productivity

We are very pleased to announce that our new book, Sustainable Food Futures: Multidisciplinary Solutionshas just been published. The book includes proposals for solutions to move us toward more sustainable food futures.  The solutions, which are based on concrete cases, are organised around 4 themes:

  1. Recognizing place
  2. Enhancing participation
  3. Challenging markets
  4. Designing sustainable food futures

The solutions proposed in this book can be read as an atlas of possibilities.

There are multiple roads we can, and must, travel to bring us towards our…

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Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance

Food Governance

SoRo Sustainable Food Transitions

I am very pleased to share that a new special issue of Sociologia Ruralis edited by Damian Maye and me is now online: Understanding Sustainable Food System Transitions: Practice, Assessment and Governance.

The Special Issue provides theoretical insights and advancements into sustainability transitions through empirically grounded and informed investigations of food system practices. The papers confirm, following Hinrichs (2014, p. 143), that ‘numerous opportunities exist to forge more productive links between work on food systems change and the broad and growing sustainability transitions field’.

The Special Issue brings together 8 articles grouped together around two themes:

  1.  Examining relations between AFN practices and transition;
  2. Opening up measures and assessment practices for sustainability transitions.

Taken as a whole, the Special Issue advances discussions and thinking on alternative food practices and sustainability, opening up the debate not only on how to identify and analyse ‘alternative food practices’ in Europe, and beyond…

View original post 209 more words