VALUES IN PLACE; MSc Thesis 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:

The course Sustainability Leadership starts soon!

The course sustainability leadership: new concepts and practices PAP-52806 will start in Period 1. If you are interested, please register soon.

Profile of the course
The governance of sustainability issues in their environmental, social and economic dimensions requires leadership that goes beyond many of the leadership models and practices. Potentially relevant forms of leadership include collaborative, visionary, complexity, adaptive, value-based or eco-leadership. Yet these emerging leadership concepts are elusive just as the concept of sustainability. This course approaches this challenging field by asking some key questions: How does sustainability leadership differ from other types of leadership? How can the contribution of actors (individual and collective) as sustainability leaders be analysed and evaluated? Who are the most successful sustainability leaders and what makes them effective?

Course themes
1) Traditional (hierarchical, positional) versus new (emergent) forms of leadership
2) Leadership to achieve what? Sustainability and sustainability related goals
3) Different types of leaders (individual v.s collective, private vs. public etc)
4) Leadership at different scales and governance levels: from local networks to global negotiations
5) The means of leadership: knowledge, values, power and legitimacy
6) Evaluating successful leadership: functional and ethical dimensions

The course consists of a mixture of lectures, tutorials and individual feedback sessions with students. The students grade will be based on tutorial assignments, an exam paper and the presentation of this paper.

For who?
This is a master course, open for students in different disciplines. Courses in social science are a helpful background but not obligatory. Students with no social science background can receive extra support in the form of individual feedback on their exam paper.
If you need more information, please contact the lecturers: S.Karlsson-Vinkhuysen or L.G.Horlings.

Key research articles on Sociology Research

Sociology Research alerts the social science community to the latest journal articles considered to represent the best in sociology research. See: Sociology Research is viewed over 14,000 times per month and has an audience of academics and researchers from a growing number of the top 20 major academic institutions.
An article that had been published recently is: “Exploring the ‘New Rural Paradigm’ in Europe: Eco-economic strategies as a counterforce to the global competitiveness agenda”. This article describes strategies in rural regional development. For many regions an obvious choice is to compete with other regions for global mobile capital and labour. On the other hand, and as a counterforce to these global logics, new strategies, which are more place-based, are being developed, such as the construction of identities or images around new agricultural goods and services. The full article has been published in the journal European Urban and Regional Studies.

Kulturhusen en Dorpshuizen in Gezonde kernen in Twente: Opdracht voor een master thesis student (of meerdere theses)

Vraag: De Overijsselse Vereniging van Kleine Kernen (OVKK) in samenwerking met de gemeente Wierden wil de bijdrage van ‘Kulturhusen’ en Dorpshuizen aan de leefbaarheid en vitaliteit van dorpskernen in kaart brengen en versterken. Ook wil men verschillen in beeld brengen tussen Kulturhusen en Dorpshuizen en ideeën verzamelen die plaats kunnen vinden in die buurthuizen, waardoor hun exploitatie beter wordt.

Het behouden en versterken van sociale vitaliteit van het platteland is een van de belangrijke speerpunten die wordt genoemd in de Twentse Kracht! Groene Metropool Twente, een visie op gebiedsontwikkeling 2014-2020. De visie geeft aan dat naast innovatie op technisch gebied, ook behoefte aan sociale innovatie ter versterking van de sociale vitaliteit.

Betrokken stakeholders zijn: de buurt- en dorpshuizen, bewoners, Landschap Overijssel, Overijsselse Vereniging voor Continue reading

Burgerkracht in krimpend Limburg: master thesis student(en) gezocht

DorpsraadEen Masterthesis in een real life setting, dat is de mogelijkheid die je hier wordt geboden. In het wetenschapswinkelonderzoek ‘Inzicht in burgerkracht in Limburg’ wordt in opdracht van de Vereniging Kleine Kernen Limburg (VKKL) onderzoek gedaan naar de veranderende burgerwensen in Limburg in het licht van de participatieve samenleving. Door haar activiteiten in de haarvaten van de maatschappij signaleert de VKKL een trend naar een samenleving die voorzieningen zelf organiseert en soms ook zelf bekostigt. Burgers wachten niet langer af, maar nemen zelf initiatieven om hun leefomgeving te verbeteren. Binnen alle veranderingen in de Limburgse samenleving heeft vooral ook de demografische ontwikkeling (ontgroening, vergrijzing en krimp) ingrijpende gevolgen voor de leefbaarheid.

De veranderende verhouding tussen burgers en de overheid lijkt steeds meer te draaien om co-creatie. Dit vraagt om een nieuwe attitude bij de overheid én de burger. De vraag die hier centraal staat is hoe die burger hier nu op voorsorteert. Welke ontwikkelingen zien burgers op zich af komen, hoe anticiperen ze hierop en wat hebben ze nodig om die nieuwe rolontwikkeling in te vullen?
De VKKL, nu 10 jaar actief op Dorpsniveau in Limburg, ziet dat er in de praktijk heel verschillend op maatschappelijke transities wordt ingespeeld. Sommige bewoners en gemeenschappen treden daarin heel pro-actief op. Initiatieven als dorpsoverleggen kenmerken zich vaak door een sterke interne drive, samenhang en gemeenschappelijke focus. Andere, meer traditioneel georganiseerde samenwerkingsverbanden als dorpsraden zijn soms nog meer reactief en gericht op ondersteuning van buiten. Soms wordt daardoor vertraagd of onvoldoende ingespeeld op de maatschappelijke ontwikkelingen.
Als jij het leuk vindt om je te verdiepen in de aard van verschillende typen ‘burgerkracht’ in Limburg (stad en/of platteland), in de wijze waarop dergelijke lokale initiatieven in staat- en bereid zijn in te spelen op de maatschappelijke transities en uitdagingen in Limburg als het je interessant lijkt om de ondersteuningsbehoefte die daarbij bestaan vanuit deze initiatieven inzichtelijk te maken neem dan contact met ons op.
Contactpersonen: Bas Braman ( ) en Jeroen Kruit (

Tijdelijk werk beschikbaar in Zwitserland in het zomerseizoen

Een klein, gezellig pension in het Zwitserse Engadin is op zoek naar medewerksters in het komende zomerseizoen (juni-september). Werk en betaling volgens C.A.O. Detailinformatie op aanvraag bij
Reakties graag nog deze week.

Hotel-Pension La Randulina,
7556 Ramosch, Schweiz.
Tel.: (00)41 (0)81 860 1200

Master thesis and internship possibilities: INNOVATIVE AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY IN THE PYRENEES

The project takes place in a little mountain village in the Spanish Pyrenees. The question is formulated by a Dutch woman who lives and works in this village. 

The central question is: How can agriculture, in a little mountain village in the Spanish Pyrenees, be developed in a way that meets the circumstances and needs of today?

This particular mountain village has been abandoned for fifty years. The association ‘Muro de Solana’ ( is dedicated to bring it back to life.


The means of living here used to be cattle breeding and farming, mainly producing potatoes and wheat. Since many people have left, the once cultivated fields have been replanted with pine trees. The terrain  has small fields and difficult access and also a lack of water supply. The village used to have only a few  hectares of farming fields, however, for this project they consider an area between 1-10 hectares. A true challenge!

Rather than going back to the old means of agriculture the association looks for innovative ways of farming which meet the circumstances and needs of today. This means the development of farming practices which improve the soil quality, are less intense in labour, produce products based on demands, and reconstruct the current forest fields.

The research results can be an inspiring example for other (semi-)abandoned villages in the North of Spain, giving villages an source of income, as well as providing reduced risks of forest fires.

Main goal is to regenerate forest farming fields, now poor in biodiversity and with the risk of forest fires (due to the planted pine trees), into useful, productive and fertile terrain.

There is no deadline for this project.

Contact person:


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