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.

RSO en SDC organiseren een kennismakingsborrel voor aanstaande BSc Thesis studenten (BIN)

Dinsdag 24 Maart a.s. organiseren de leerstoelgroepen Rural Sociology en Sociology of Development and Change een kenningsmakingsborrel voor studenten van de Bachelor ‘Internationale Ontwikkelingsstudies’ die de intentie hebben dit jaar met hun BSc Thesis te starten.

Deze informele borrel is bedoeld om je kennis te laten maken met onze staff leden en hun expertise, en je hier ook een mogelijkheid te bieden om die personen te ontmoeten die je in je BSc Programma (tot op heden) nog niet bent tegen gekomen. Daarnaast biedt deze borrel de mogelijkheid om een eerste brainstorm op gang te brengen over de mogelijke focus van je onderzoek, om je (uiteindelijk) te helpen met het vinden van een begeleider voor je BSc Thesis.

Daarom zijn jullie van harte uitgenodigd op dinsdag 24 Maart 2015 vanaf 17.00 in onze Lounge (te vinden op de derde verdieping van de Leeuwenborch).

Voor vragen neem contact op met Miriam Vreman (Miriam.Vreman@wur.nl), Onderwijs Coördinator Rural Sociology en Sociology of Development and Change.

 

 

Internship: diversification strategies of farmers in peri-urban Amstelland

Aside

Amstelland is a traditional meadow landscape, dominated by dairy farming, and framed on three sides by the cities of Amsterdam and Amstelveen. The vicinity of the city offers threats and opportunities for farmers in Amstelland. The area is intensively used for recreation.

Citizen organisation Stichting Beschermers Amstelland (SBA) is concerned with the future of the area. SBA presumes that preservation of the landscape is connected to economic sustainability of the farms. For that reason SBA is interested in the strategies of farmers towards diversification and pluri-activity. A number of farmers already have added multifunctional activities to their conventional farm. Most farmers are member in the environmental cooperative De Amstel and take agri-environmental measures. Some farmers have started a B&B or sell products on farm. The peri-urban situation leads to high land prices, slowing down opportunities for farm enlargement. As a result, more farmers are likely to consider diversification and pluri-activity as an alternative strategy.

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Internship: the role of dairy in a sustainable diet

Dairy-products-1024x752 There are many definitions of a sustainable diet. A sustainable diet should not only be sustainable, but also be nutritious and healthy. Furthermore, in order to insure compliance, attainability is also an important aspect.

Sustainability, health and attainability all are very broad, overarching terms. In order to create a better understanding of those terms one should break them down in smaller more concrete determinants. E.g. sustainability can be determined by CO2 footprint, land use, water use, animal welfare, ……
In order to understand the role of dairy in a sustainable diet it is important to understand how dairy does score on the different determinants of sustainability. Furthermore, it is important to understand the influence of the dairy production process (from grass to glass) on the different parameters of sustainability.

Once the position of dairy in the sustainability landscape is defined, it is important to include other elements such as health, nutrition, food availability, habits, affordability etc. By taking all those elements together you can determine the position of dairy in a sustainable diet. Continue reading

Thesis Opportunity: Stakeholder analysis for sustainability a in Central Mexico

A new and exciting RSO thesis opportunity: Stakeholder analysis for regional sustainability analysis in urbanizing landscapes in Central Mexico

Introduction

Around Mexico-city, rural landscapes have changed significantly – and continue to do so – due to the growth of the city into these rural landscapes. This so-called peri-urbanization occurs in many places in the world and is accompanied by a specific sustainability challenges regarding water management, the role of agriculture in rural communities and the cultural changes that result from this. This MSc thesis will be part of a study of how peri-urbanization has affected the sustainability of three case study regions or watersheds. Regional assessment of the sustainability of natural resource management is complicated by the large range of stakeholder priorities and perspectives. Obtaining an accurate idea of the existing stakeholder’s priorities with regard to the state of the region’s natural resources, the main challenges and their management, is thus an important first step. This gives a basis for the definition of indicators for the sustainability assessment. However, it does not yet enable giving weights to each indicator. A proposed answer to this challenge is to first distil a list of possible sustainability indicators from semi-structured stakeholder interviews, and subsequently ask those same stakeholders to attach a weight or value to these indicators, using pairwise comparisons. The resulting ranking can then be used as an important input to a regional sustainability assessment. Another challenge, still to be resolved, is how to weigh the perspectives of different actors, perhaps according to each actor’s influence and/or importance.

Objective: To define a list of regional sustainability priorities with quantitative weights attached to them, based on the analysis and integration of stakeholder perspectives.

Activities

  • Stakeholder selection
  • Semi-structured interviewing
  • Survey development and execution
  • Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches
  • Writing and defending an MSc thesis

Requirements

  • MSc student in (rural) sociology or related
  • Fluency in Spanish
  • Willingness to do research in Mexico
  • Financial self-sufficiency
  • 5-6 months for the project
  • Start date January 2015 or late July 2015

Contact details

This MSc thesis will be jointly supervised by Dr. Jessica Duncan (Rural Sociology) and Leendert van Wolfswinkel (Farming Systems Ecology).

The project will contribute to the PhD project of Leendert van Wolfswinkel, who will also be the daily supervisor in Mexico. The PhD project is a collaboration between Farming Systems Ecology (WUR), CIMMYT and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.

For more information contact jessica.duncan@wur.nl with a statement of interest and a CV.

VALUES IN PLACE – MSc Thesis opportunity on the role of values in sustainable places

At the rural Sociology Group we would like to do research on values, place and sustainability. Therefore we are looking for students who are interested in doing a MSc Thesis.

Place based approaches to sustainable development are increasingly favoured, assuming that place specificities really matter in the form of social, cultural and institutional characteristics. People shape places which is expressed in practices, relations, rules, symbols and place-identities. A central question is how human values play a role in place-shaping – aimed at sustainable development – and how to analyze and map values.

Values are not self-standing concepts which can be analysed as atomized issues, but intertwined, context determined, culturally varied and linked to how we see our self and how we perceive our environment. A value-driven perspective on sustainable place-shaping benefits dialogues based on people’s values and beliefs, and aims to provide a more in-depth insight in what people consider as worthwhile, feel responsible for and are willing to commit to in the context of their own place. This is relevant as we can see a trend towards forms of self-organisation, the ‘do-democracy’ and the participative society where people (are expected to) take responsibility for their own environment.

Our goal is to analyse how values are expressed in places, distinguishing between the following dimensions:
• The economic dimension: adding value to places;
• The intentional dimension: why people contribute to sustainable change in places
• The symbolic dimension: how people appreciate place and attach meanings to place
• The integral dimension: how cultural worldviews and levels of human behaviour play a role in place-shaping.
Does this make you curious and/or do you have an interest in this research theme, please contact Ina Horlings at: Lummina.Horlings@wur.nl

Twee thesis opdrachten lokaal voedsel – Almeerse Weelde

onderzoekerstadslandbouw

Deze zomer zijn een aantal wetenschapswinkelprojecten gestart, waardoor we verschillende studentenopdrachten in de aanbieding hebben. De opdracht waar ik laatst over schreef staat nog uit, maar we zijn nu voor een ander project ook op zoek naar twee studenten.

Dit wetenschapswinkelproject speelt zich ook af in Almere; de opdrachtgever is Almeerse Weelde. Almeerse Weelde (AW) bestaat uit ongeveer vijfentwintig mensen die zich bezighouden met lokaal voedsel. Sommigen van hen doen dat professioneel, anderen meer hobbymatig. Naast de verwerking van lokale producten, houdt AW zich bezig met bewustwording en kennisoverdracht over lokaal voedsel.

AWproducten

Momenteel denkt AW na over de toekomst; hoe en in welke richting kan ze zich verder ontwikkelen? Deze vraag heeft ze voorgelegd aan de wetenschapswinkel, die AW daarbij gaat ondersteunen. In die zoektocht komen verschillende vragen naar boven, zoals:

  • Wat zijn de faal- en succesfactoren van dit burgerinitiatief?
  • Hoe houdt je het samenwerkingsverband levendig?
  • Welke bedrijfsvorm past bij Almeerse Weelde?
  • Hoe kunnen…

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Student gezocht voor onderzoek buurtmoestuinen

onderzoekerstadslandbouw

Laatst schreef ik over een stappenplan voor het opstarten van buurtmoestuinen, ontwikkeld door een ACT groep binnen eenWetenschapswinkelproject. Nu bieden we een stage of afstudeeronderzoek voor een (BSc of MSc) student. Dus wil je een bijdrage leveren aan een wetenschapswinkelproject en daarbij samenwerken met Wageningse onderzoekers, lees dan even verder!

De opdrachtgever van het wetenschapswinkeproject is de kenniskring buurtmoestuinen Almere. Deze heeft de volgende vragen:

  • Wat zijn de geleerde lessen en succesfactoren van de kenniskring?
  • In hoeverre heb je een ‘trekker’ nodig en in hoeverre is die vervangbaar en het netwerk daarmee overdraagbaar?
  • Hoe kan een dergelijk netwerk duurzaam gefinancierd worden?
  • Hoe houd je vrijwilligers betrokken en hoe geef je hen verantwoordelijkheid?
  • Hoe ga je om met meer commercieel gerichte initiatieven?
  • Wat zijn de voor- en nadelen van zowel schooltuinen als community gardens in één netwerk?
  • Is het zinvol om ook initiatieven op micro-schaal (bijvoorbeeld hanging baskets of 1-2 fruitbomen) op te nemen in…

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Benefits and constraints for certification of agro-ecological farmers – MSc-thesis possibility

I am Maria Alice Mendonça, a PhD-student from the Univerity of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil). I’m interested in the markteting and certification of agroecological food products. I’m staying at the Rural Sociology Group to study the certification of origin and organic food products in the Netherlands.

Certification can play an important role in the transition towards more sustainable food and agriculture. Yet, at the same time, rigid standards may constrain farmer innovation. To many small scale farmers certification is moreover a large financial burden. I want to investigate two or three different major certification schemes in the Netherlands. Interviews will be conducted with agroecological farmers to find the various benefits and constraints faced for different certification schemes.

I’m now looking for a MSc-is student with an interest in the topic that can assist from May 2014 onwards. Seen the interviews, preference is given to a Dutch speaking MSc student studying for example Organic Agriculture, Rural Development and Innovation, International Development Studies or Management, Economics and Consumer Studies.

If you are interested contact me: maria.alice.fcm@gmail.com or Dirk Roep: dirk.roep@wur.nl

“Sugar in Dutch foods throughout the years” – MSc-thesis possibility with Rural Sociology and Food Technology

Sugar in Dutch foods throughout the years: proposal for a Rural Sociology Master’s Thesis supervised by dr Jessica Duncan of the Rural Sociology Group and dr ir Ralf Hartemink of the Food Technology Group of Wageningen University.

Note: the research question is proposed by Knowledge Centre for Sugar & Nutrition (Kenniscentrum suiker & voeding). They will review the thesis and potentially use findings to develop a fact sheet on the history of sugar use in the Netherlands.

Research context and problem:

Today, it is not uncommon to read warning of the impacts of increasing amounts of sugars being added foods and drinks and thus increasing sugar intake by consumers. But is this the case in the Netherlands? Are Dutch people using more sugar in their cooking? Are they consuming more sugar in ready-made products? Has the sugar content in these products increased over the years? If so, by how much and why? In order to establish an overview of trends in sugar use in some typical Dutch products the researcher will:

  1. Research and map sugar trends in foods and drinks throughout the years (both domestic cooking and industrially prepared foods);
  2. Research the functionalities of sugar in a variety of products in the context of the trends.
  3. Analyse the  social and technological drivers and implications of the trends

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