SUSPLACE website launched – Exploring the potential of place-shaping practices for sustainable development

The SUSPLACE consortium bids you a hearty welcome to our newly launched website http://www.sustainableplaceshaping.net. SUSPLACE is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Commission that explores the full potential of place-shaping practices for sustainable development. SUSPLACE officially kicked-off on October 1, 2015 in Wageningen, The Netherlands and will last till September 30, 2019. The overall aim of the project…

via SUSPLACE – Exploring the potential of place-shaping practices for sustainable development — SUSPLACE

BSc Thesis opportunity: The Human Factor in Place-shaping

We are looking for motivated BSc students that are interested in writing a thesis with the Rural Sociology Group on the topic of place-shaping. The student will engage in a literature-based study, starting literature will be provided by the supervisor. The report will preferably be written in English.

  1. The (re-)appreciation of places; paying attention to socio-cultural practices; people’s sense of place; regional identities, narratives and story-lines, and branding of places[1];
  2. Individual values and collective culture as the ‘inner’ dimension of sustainability; addressing questions such as: why would people get engaged in sustainability initiatives and self-organization; how and why do people value places but also oppose to the spatial planning of new projects, such as wind-energy parks; how are citizens initiatives and place-shaping influenced by awareness, culture, identities and values; Which ‘policy scripts’ can be identified addressing the role of culture in places?
  3. Collective agency, emerging grassroots initiatives, alliances and coalitions; addressing the questions: how can spatial development enable the ‘energetic society’? How do people on the local and regional administrative level reflect on and negotiate the conditions of their engagement in place-shaping, how do they express agency and create a countervailing power in rural and urban development; how can effective (public-private) alliances and coalitions be build?
  4. Leadership of place; which acknowledges the role of shared, collaborative (knowledge) leadership in building collective agency, in attuning the institutional setting to the specificities of place, thus enabling a place-based approach.
  5. Methodology; Qualitative case-study research; Participatory approaches; Action-research; Value-oriented approach, Appreciative Inquiry.

Continue reading

Urban Agriculture in Romania

11879645_1022934331074106_583476184_o-2This MSc thesis by Anamaria Alupoaie (MSc Organic Agriculture) investigated the reasons for failure of urban gardens, and the impacts of gardens on resident’s ‘sense of place’, in Dorohoi city in Romania.

Urban Agriculture plays a different role in the food system then agriculture in rural areas. In some cases, it represents a source of income or builds  sociological relations between citizens, through participation in the garden. In other cases, urban agriculture may originate from rural agricultural habits and traditions. With these inherited habits, urban farmers improve the existing environment through their practices, and with these practices they inspire others to take action in maintaining their own ‘green corners’ in the public space.

11882459_1022933601074179_396130938_oThe study was undertaken in Dorohoi region, a city situated on the north side of Romania, a small city with  31,093 inhabitants. In the last 20 years, the city experienced a period of decline due to the closure of big factories that offered jobs for more than half of the inhabitants. Since then the unemployment rate grew, and reached 80-85 %, in 2009. And it is estimated that now over 50% of the population lives below the country’s poverty line, as a result of the loss of the big industry. The availability of resources and income has triggered city dwellers to rely to a greater extent on local food production. Among the existing gardens, new ones started to flourish around the apartment buildings, in urban public spaces, and residents grew their edible greens. As such, in the area proposed for investigation, Dorohoi, urban agriculture continued through the communities of rural people that had moved into the urban center. They developed gardens in the green spaces of the city as a traditional habit inherited from their rural life. But this period of prosperity didn’t last, and about a decade ago, the city gardens were destroyed, with no significant grounds left. Continue reading

Reminder: 15 vacancies for Early Stage Researchers Sustainable Place Shaping (SUSPLACE)

The 15 vacancies for Early Stage Researchers in Sustainable Place Shaping at six host universities are still open for application till October 7th (midnight). More information can be found at a previous blog posted here: SUSPLACE Programme vacancies: 15 Early Stage Research positions at six universities. Information and hyperlinks to the recruitment sites of the respective host universities have been updated.

Course Global sense of place in period 2

Volcano-crater-observation-deck-by-Javier-Mera-Jorge-Andrade-and-Daniel-Moreno_dezeen_784_3The course RSO-55306 A Global Sense of Place starts soon, so please register if you are interested to follow this. It  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.

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.

Main themes of the course

Central to a place-based approach is the conceptions of place as: 1) Arenas for negotiation, conflicting interests and power struggles; 2) Endowed with meaning and the constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.

Different interdisciplinary themes will be addressed such as:

  • a relational approach of place and space;
  • key thinkers on place and space;
  • politics of place;
  • community development;
  • cultural approaches of place-based development
  • ‘the human dimension’, encompassing collaboration and leadership
  • ‘defence’ of places and conflicts

For more information, you can contact lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Values in place – open acces publication and thesis opportunity

Students interested in doing a thesis on this topic can contact me:  lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Societal change toward sustainability is accelerated not only by political systems or practical actions, but also by values which influence our attitudes and actions. The latter point has been termed as change ‘from the inside-out’ or the ‘interior’ subjective dimension of sustainability. However, not clear is what values exactly are and how they play a role in places. Therefore I have drafted an article on this topic now published in Regional Studies, Regional Science (open access): Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping.

The aim of this paper is to understand how specifically processes of sustainable place-shaping are influenced by human values, rooted in culture. The argument is that practices of place-shaping can contribute to sustainable development of communities and regions using local resources, people’s capacities and the distinctiveness of places. The development and engagement of participant’s values in places can build co-creative capacity, contributing to change. The challenge of incorporating ‘values in place’ is to create a dialogue between actors, not based on personal interests, but on common agreed-upon motivational and symbolic values, directed to the common good.
The concept of value is often discussed in the context of economic value, expressed in monetary terms. However, values also reflect people’s core principles and motivations rooted in broader cultural value systems and worldviews. Furthermore they reflect how people value and appreciate their place, and subscribe symbolic meanings to places. Values hinder or foster the fulfilling of what people consider as worthwhile. In the paper different value-oriented approaches in the context of sustainable place-shaping are explored, an economic, intentional and symbolic dimension. Values are not self-standing concepts which can be mapped or analysed as atomized issues, but they are intertwined, context-determined, culturally varied and connected to how we see our self and how we perceive our environment and place. Values such as freedom, solidarity and justice only gain meaning in actual people and practices and can be considered as dynamic in space, place and time. A value-oriented approach can provide a more in-depth insight into what people appreciate, feel responsible for and are willing to commit to in the context of their place.
For more information see the abstract and full article: L.G. Horlings (2015) Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping. Regional Studies, Regional Science, Volume 2, Issue 1, pages 256-273, open access, DOI:10.1080/21681376.2015.1016097.

Sign in now for the course A global Sense of Place!

vechtdal 1

A Global Sense of Place (RSO-55306) 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.

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.

Different interdisciplinary themes will be addressed such as:
• a relational approach of place and space;
• key thinkers on place and space and politics of place;
• community development
• cultural approaches of place-based development
• ‘the human dimension’, encompassing collaboration and leadership
• ‘defence’ of places and conflicts

If you are interested or want to register for this course, please send a mail before October 4th to lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Introduction into Sociology and Anthropology of Place Shaping – optional course and free choice minor

Poster RSO-56806Starting Monday 17 Februray 2014,  in the 4th educational period of Wageningen University, the optional course RSO-56806 Introduction into Sociology and Anthropology of Place Shaping will be offered again in collaboratyion with Cultural Geography Group and Land Use Planning Group. For more information on the course contact the course coordinator Joost Jongerden: joost.jongerden@wur.nl

The course can be the first of four succeeding courses in period 5 and 6 up to a total of 24 ects as part of the free choice minor ‘Place and space in planning and development‘ open to BSc-students from WU and other high education institutes, such as the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences.

The course offered as part of the minor are:

  • Period 4: RSO-56806 Sociology and Anthropology of Place-Shaping, whole days
  • Periode 5: RDS-30306 Sociological Theories of Rural Transformations, morning or GEO-23306 Cultural and istorical Geography, afternoon
  • Period 6: LUP-33306 Methods for strategic planning, whole days in week 34-39 and LUP-32306 Studio strategic planning, whole days in weeks 40-43

For more information contact minor coordinator Dirk Roep: dirk.roep@wur.nl