Professor Joost Dessein: Friends of RSO video series

In this video, we interview Professor Joost Dessein, Department of Agricultural Economics at Ghent University, and President of the European Society for Rural Sociology.

Joost reflects on the innovativeness of the RSO Group, our passionate dedication, and our academic skills that allow us to stay at the cutting edge. He points to the role of members of RSO, notably Professor Bettina Bock, for their leadership in Rural Sociology across Europe.

He shares a story of meeting Professor Jan Douwe van der Ploeg after he came across his work.

In terms of the future of rural sociology, he anticipates the emergence of new themes given the dynamism ahead.

Thank you to Joost for taking the time to share these memories and thank you to Yanick Bakker for her editing skills.

Professor Peter Oosterveer: Friends of RSO video series

Professor Peter Oosterveer, from the Environmental Policy Group, first became aware of the Sociology Group as a student in the 1970s. When he came back to work at the Environmental Policy Group, he maintained strong collaborations with the group through research and education.

In this interview, he mentioned the way in which RSO has stayed ahead of the debates over the last 30 years. He also reflects on the influence of Bruno Benvenuti as a teacher, but also for his critical look at more macro developments (e.g. technologies) and how farmers deal with these. Peter highlights the value of the RSO Group’s focus on rural development, especially at a time when much attention is turning towards a globalizing, and urbanizing world.

For the future of rural sociology, he notes the importance of continuing to understand the way rural regions are changing in relation to other regions.

Thank you to Peter for taking the time to share these memories and to Yanick Bakker for her editing skills.

Professor Gianluca Brunori: Friends of RSO video series

In this second interview in the Friends of RSO video Series, we speak with Gianluca Brunori, Professor of Food Policy at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, at Pisa University. In our interview, he reflects on the central role the RSO group has had on his career. He notes the impact of the group, based in part on the methodological approaches and a strong, critical view: the attempt to go beyond the common discourse to challenge situations, while also looking the alternatives.

He reflects on the blurring of disciplines and the challenges and opportunities this poses for Rural Sociology. He makes a plea for enhanced engagement with economies to enhance our understandings of alternatives, without losing the “hard core” of the discipline.

Professor Brunori shares an experience of a rainy group camping trip that led to the consolidation of professional relations that have spanned more than 30 years.

Many thanks to Gianluca for sharing his reflections and to Yanick Bakker for her editorial work.

Prof Myriam Paredes: Friends of RSO video series

Over the last 75 years, we have made a lot of friends from around the world. In this short series, we interview a few of these friends with strong roots in RSO and who have gone on to have internationally recognized scientific careers.

In this interview series, we ask them to reflect on their connection to the group, the legacy of the group, and the future of rural sociology more broadly.

In this first interview, Professor Myriam Paredes, of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, (FLACSO), in Ecuador, reflects on the novel approaches and contributions of the group to sociological debate, notably moving beyond traditional actor /structure dichotomies.

She also recalls fondly the deep conversations and good company she experiences while studying at RSO. She shares that students and staff would come together to debate the ageless question of what different realities mean, as a way to introduce non-sociological students into sociological debates.

She also shares her trajectory from MSc student to PhD candidate and reflects on the quality of the teachers, and ‘friends for life’ that supported her on her journey.

A special thank you to Myriam for sharing her memories and to Yanick Bakker for her editorial support.

Support to the Short Food Supply Chains in Ukraine: MSc Research Practice

This research practical is a project under the supervision of Dr Jessica Duncan, Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University. It has been set up  students who want to prepare for a career in science but who have a passion for applied research.

Because the practical is research based, the student will need to write a research proposal, carry out a research project and finish with a research practice report.

  • Starting immediately
  • 4-6 months
  • 24-39 ECTS (to be determined with student and study advisor)
  • Flexible in terms of location
  • Only available to students who have permission from their study advisor. The research practical replaces the internship.

The candidate must have:

  • Strong research and communication skills required (english and additional languages are considered an asset)
  • Understanding of short food supply chains
  • Interest working with interdisciplinary teams
  • Ambition to publish research results as part of a team of co-authors

Description:

We are looking for a MSc student to research the possibility of short food supply chains in Ukraine in the current crisis and post-crisis contexts. The project will be supervised by Dr Jessica Duncan who is facilitating a collboration the the topic.

The intern will support the project by desiging and conducting research related to the following 4 steps. It is expected that the results will be published in a book on urban agriculture and occupied territories.

Step 1: Analyse the needs and opportunities for supporting the food supply chains

A rapid assessment of the current situation in Ukraine regarding food chains with support from experts and local networks.

Step 2: Identify and analyse the participating Municipalities

The situation in Ukraine varies and is changing on daily basis, thus rather than working on general level it would be best to identify Municipalities that have interest and capacity to work on short food supply chains. With experts, the intern will coordinate with at least 5 municipalities. The network of contacts in Ukraine will support identification of municipalities. 

Step 3: Map the stakeholders

An analysis of the needs in the selected Municipalities, as well as their potential would be performed. Issues such as population and demographic trends, land availability, labour availability, current food sources, provision and demand, as well as logistics, including storage, supply and distribution should be included in the analysis. Land availability, skills and labour are factors which influence the possibility of various approaches, ranging from large-scale production to small-scale involvement (e.g. garden plots).

Mapping of the stakeholders would be done with the support of local authorities, CSOs and local contacts. Mapping would include not only food producers, food processing companies, retailers, cooperatives and authorities responsible for food quality control, but also small-scale businesses, CSOs, organisations dealing with IDPs and informal groups (e.g. local women initiatives). An important aspect is the potential to organise therapeutic activities for the traumatised as part of short food supply chains.

Step 4: Prepare evidence-based guidelines for supporting short food supply chains

Based on the analysis, guidelines will be prepared for organising and supporting food supply chains. In order to be used by a variety of actors, from municipal authorities to CSOs, the guidelines would include a range of issues and activities, such as organisation of local food markets and food distribution, integration of relocated businesses and people, agricultural advisory service and advice on food processing, as well as provision of therapeutic support and recreation. Preparation of the guidelines would require close collaboration of the international experts and the network of contacts in Ukraine and would nee to be useful in a range of contexts (urban / rural, cash-for-work programmes / contribution in kind), and include a range of practices (e.g. seeds sharing and distribution, food sharing, community cooking).

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of your MSc research practice, you are expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate career interests and ambitions in relation to the research project and reflect on professional ambitions and capabilities.
  2. Develop a research plan, including: a description of the research topic in relation to the wider scientific context; an identification of the knowledge gap; formulation of research questions and/or a hypothesis, aims and objectives; an explanation of how you intend to conduct the research (e.g. in terms of a design for the project, data-collection and -analysis methods, research tools).
  3. Collect, select and process data, using the design for the project, methods and tools described in the research plan.
  4. Analyse and synthesise the data in order to answer the research questions and/or test the hypothesis.
  5. Formulate answers to the research questions that are supported by the research outcomes; pay attention to potential limitations;  critically discuss the outcomes in relation to the wider scientific and societal context.
  6. Report on the research, both in writing and in oral presentation.
  7. Work in compliance with academic codes of conduct and with proper management of time and resources.
  8. Make use of input and feedback for executing the research project and provide feedback to others.
  9. Define personal learning goals, which could include domain-specific skills, and reflect on development therein.

For more information please contact Jessica Duncan: jessica.duncan@wur.nl