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 (han.wiskerke@wur.nl) as the deadline for online registration has passed.

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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: Continue reading

New journal announcement: SITOPOLIS – Journal of Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems

SITOPOLIS – The Journal of Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems is a multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed and open access journal focussing on urban and peri-urban agriculture and systems of urban and regional food provisioning in developing, transition and advanced economies.

The journal intends to be a platform for cutting edge research on urban and peri-urban agricultural production for food and non-food (e.g. flowers, medicine, cosmetics) uses and for social, environmental and health services (e.g. tourism, water storage, care, education, waste recycling, urban greening). It aims to explore, analyse and critically reflect upon urban and regional food production, processing, transport, trade, marketing and consumption and the social, economic, environmental, health and spatial contexts, relations and impacts of these food provisioning activities.

The journal addresses one of the contemporary grand societal challenges: how to secure the availability, affordability and access to culturally appropriate, nutritious and safe food for a growing and rapidly urbanizing world population in times of increasing resource scarcity, diet-related ill-health and climate change. This contemporary grand societal challenge requires a multi-disciplinary approach and hence SITOPOLIS welcomes contributions from a wide variety of disciplines, such as sociology, economics, marketing and consumer studies, gender studies, human and economic geography, urban and regional planning, architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, political science, agronomy, soil science, water management, and public health studies. The journal publishes original research as well as critical reviews.

The journal is published by Baltzer Science Publishers in collaboration with ACSESS, the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies in the USA and with the RUAF Foundation. Editor-in-Chief is Prof.dr. Han Wiskerke, supported by an international and multi-disciplinary editorial board.

New book – Sustainable Food Planning: Evolving Theory and Practice

Half the world’s population is now urbanised and cities are assuming a larger role in debates about the security and sustainability of the global food system. Hence, planning for sustainable food production and consumption is becoming an increasingly important issue for planners, policymakers, designers, farmers, suppliers, activists, business and scientists alike. The rapid growth of the food planning movement owes much to the unique multi-functional character of food systems. In the wider contexts of global climate change, resource depletion, a burgeoning world population, competing food production systems and diet-related public health concerns, new paradigms for urban and regional planning capable of supporting sustainable and equitable food systems are urgently needed. This book addresses this urgent need. By working at a range of scales and with a variety of practical and theoretical models, this book reviews and elaborates definitions of sustainable food systems, and begins to define ways of achieving them. Four different themes have been defined as entry-points into the discussion of ‘sustainable food planning’. These are (1) urban food governance, (2) integrating health, environment and society, (3) urban agriculture (4) planning and design. Continue reading

IFSA 2012 workshop ‘The meaning of semi-subsistence farming in different cultural contexts’

Together with Imre Kovach and Catherine Darrot,  I will be hosting a workshop at the IFSA symposium in Aarhus, Denmark from the 1st of July until the 4th of July 2012.

The workshop is aimed at exploring the multiple meanings of semi-subsistent food production strategies in different cultural context. Two questions are at the centre of attention: 1) How has the meaning of semi-subsistent food production changed over time for producers, society and institutions? and 2) What recommendations can be derived from the research for policy makers of multi-state institutions (e.g. EU?). We invite researchers from diverse countries to present their empirical research in order to stimulate a fruitful discussion and knowledge exchange.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is the 31st of December 2011.  More information and a link to submitting your abstract can be found here. I hope to see you there!

PUREFOOD Research Vacancy ‘Comparative analysis of urban food strategies’

The vacancy for a position as Early Stage Researcher (ESR) for the project  ‘Comparative analysis of urban food strategies in European cities’ within the PUREFOOD research and training network has been re-opened. More information about PUREFOOD can be found below and on the PUREFOOD website (which is still under construction).

Job description

For this PUREFOOD project ‘Comparative analysis of urban food strategies in European cities’ we are looking for an Early Stage Researcher who is interested in the topics of urban food provisioning and the relations between food and policy domains as public health, education, environment, et cetera from a sociological, political science and/or planning perspective. The research will focus on how food policies are articulated and motivated in different European cities and what  the consequences are for their implementation. This focus is inspired by the fact that more and more city governments are taking up food as a key policy area to enhance human and environmental urban health. The challenges of policy articulation and implementation are big. The articulation of food policy has so far been reliant on individual politicians and on a political level vulnerable to electoral shifts. Institutionalization of food policy in city governments has just started and different patterns of institutionalization are emerging with particular pitfalls and successes. This study will explore the preconditions, political processes, strategy articulation and implementations of urban food strategies in different European cities in comparative perspective to enhance the understanding of the conditions for successful urban food policy implementation. Continue reading

Working group at 24th ESRS congress in Chania, Greece 22-25 August 2011: Call for papers

Imre Kovách ( Institute for Political Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest), Petra Derkzen and I are organising a working group on “the governance of semi-subsistent food and farming strategies in the countryside and city- a compartive perspective” at the 24th ESRS congress in Chania (Greece) from 22-25 of August 2011. We would like to invite all interested researchers to submit their papers dealing with empirical or theoretical reflections on the driving forces, structure and mechanisms of semisubsistence food and farming strategies in the countryside and-or cities, both within developed and developing countries. Abstracts may be submitted  to Imre Kovach (ikovach@mtapti.hu) AND chania2011@agr.unipi.it until the 30th of April 2011.  For a more detailed description of the workshop please read further…

Courtesy of European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism

Continue reading

PUREFOOD – 12 vacancies for ESRs are open

As mentioned in an earlier post on this weblog, the Rural Sociology Group has been granted the the coordination of a Marie Curie Initial Training Network  entitled ‘Urban, peri-urban and regional food dynamics: toward an integrated and territorial approach to food (PUREFOOD)’ funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework PEOPLE program. The objective of PUREFOOD is to train a pool of 12 early-stage researchers (ESRs) in the socio-economic and socio-spatial dynamics of the (peri-)urban and regional foodscape. The PUREFOOD network is centred around food as an integrated and territorial mode of governance and studies the emergence of the (peri-)urban foodscape as an alternative (as opposed to a globalised) geography of food, including the ways in which, and the extent to which, sustainability aspects generally considered to be intrinsic to the alternative food geography are incorporated by the more conventional food companies.

As of now all 12 PUREFOOD research vacancies have been published (or soon will be) by the host universities. For information about the ESR vacancies and application guidelines, you can download the PUREFOOD vacancies leaflet. For more information about the objectives, training and research approach and training program of PUREFOOD you can download the PUREFOOD information pack for prospective ESRs. The deadline for application is 3 January 2011.

Eligibility criteria

The enhancement of transnational mobility to improve career perspectives of early stage researchers is the main goal of the Marie Curie Initial Training funding. To achieve this objective the following eligibility criteria for prospective ESRs have been formulated:

  • You are eligible as an ESR if you are, at the time of recruitment (i) in possession of a university degree, and (ii) have a maximum of four years of full-time research experience, including any period of research training. This is measured from the date when you obtained the degree which formally entitles you to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided. Please not that ESRs cannot be PhD holders.
  • You are eligible to the position if, at the time of the selection by the host university, you did not reside or carry out your main activity (work, studies, etc) in the country of the host university for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to your recruitment.

If you have any questions about a vacancy please contact the contact person mentioned in the vacancy announcement. For general question about PUREFOOD please contact me (han.wiskerke@wur.nl).

PhD position: Knowledge brokerage to promote sustainable food consumption and production

In January 2011 the project ‘FOODLINKS’ (Knowledge brokerage to promote sustainable food consumption and production: linking scientists, policymakers and civil society organizations) will start. This project is funded by the European Commission and will be carried out by a consortium of 14 partners (universities, regional and local governments and civil society organizations) from 9 European countries. The overall project aims at developing and experimenting with new ways of linking research to policy-making in the field of sustainable food consumption and production. FOODLINKS will be coordinated by Prof. Han Wiskerke and Dr. Bettina Bock of the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University.

Job description

Within the FOODLINKS project we are looking for a a PhD candidate who is interested in issues of science-society dialogue, science-policy collaboration and social learning in the field of sustainable production and consumption. The PhD candidate will combine the writing of a PhD thesis with hands-on participation in a EC-funded project and contribution to project deliverables. 

Within the overall FOODLINKS project,  the PhD project monitors and evaluates the processes of social learning taking place in three Communities of Practice that are established as part of the project. In these Communities of Practice researchers, policymakers and civil society organization exchange knowledge and experiences and commonly define new research questions in the field of short food supply chains, sustainable public food procurement and urban food strategies. The PhD project will evaluate the knowledge brokerage activities and processes of social learning that are taking place in the Communities of Practice as well as in the project as a whole. 

Requirements

  • A Master degree in sociology, communication science or innovation studies.
  • Knowledge of relevant theoretical concepts in science and technology studies, science-society dialogue and science-policy collaboration, such as boundary work, knowledge brokerage, multi-stakeholder participation and social learning.
  • Knowledge of and experience with monitoring and evaluating processes of (social) learning.
  • Some knowledge of or interest in agro-food research and issues of sustainable food production and consumption. 
  • Good analytical and writing skills.
  • Fluent in English
  • Willing to travel as the project will include frequent meetings within Europe.

 Appointment conditions

A PhD position for a period of 18 months, extended with another 30 months upon favourable evaluation. Gross salary will increase from € 2042 per month in the first year up to € 2612 per month in the last year based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week). In addition, we offer a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary. 

 Additional information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:

  • Prof. dr. ir J.S.C. Wiskerke, Chair of Rural Sociology, Telephone number: +31 317 482679/4507 and
  • Dr. Ir B.B. Bock, Associate Professor Rural Sociology, Telephone number: +31 317 483275/4507 

Additional information about the FOODLINKS project can obtained through this link. The PhD position is mainly related to Work Packages (WPs) 2, 6 and 7 of FOODLINKS.

Additional information about the organisation can be obtained through one of the following:

Interested? Apply now via www.jobsat.wur.nl before November 8th 2010 (Vacancy number: SSG-RSO-0005).

Second European Sustainable Food Planning Conference – a last reminder

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs the  Urban Performance Group of the University of Brighton (UK) will host the second European Sustainable Food Planning Conference on 29 and 30 October 2010 under auspices of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP). Although the deadlines for submission of abstracts and selection of papers and posters have passed, there are still a few places available to attend the conference. It promises to become an interesting conference due to the diversity of disciplinary and interdisciplinary contributions and the geographical range of cases and experiences that are going to be presented. And, furthermore, it also seems to be a vary timely conference; the attention for urban agriculture, food and health, food and urban design and food governance is rapidly increasing, not only in the academic realm but also in political and societal debates.

For more information about the conference you can download the conference brochure or have a look at the conference website.

Through a Food Lens…

By Simone Plantinga – MSc student

For the Dutch version of this text follow this link

A year ago, I started with the research for my MSc Thesis in Rural Sociology. The research was carried out in Tilburg, a city in the Province of Noord-Brabant, in the south part of the Netherlands. After a couple of explorative meetings within the chair group of Rural Sociology of Wageningen University, with the Brabantse Milieufederatie (Environmental Federation Brabant) and the Provincie Noord-Brabant (Province of Nood-Brabant) this research has been defined. The research is about the preconditions, possibilities and restrictions for the set up of a Food Policy Council, a particular form of food policy. A FPC is a broad social network or platform which consists of multiple actors which have an interest in well developed food system. A successful example is the Toronto Food Policy, which formed in 1991 in Canada. In this blog I’ll explain the (conceptual) background of the research, as well as the key results and conclusions.   Continue reading