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 (bas.breman@wur.nl ) en Jeroen Kruit (jeroen.kruit@wur.nl).

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 larandulina@bluewin.ch
Website: http://www.larandulina.com;
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’ (http://murodesolana.org/) 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: lummina.horlings@wur.nl


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 an ecological and self-sustaining water system be created?

The main goal is to design such a water system, which is reliable as well as usable in practice.

This particular mountain village has been abandoned for fifty years. The association ‘Muro de Solana’ (http://murodesolana.org/) is dedicated to bring it back to life. In former days rain water was captured and water was also transported with the help of donkeys from a well, at a distance of one km at a lower altitude then the village. There never was any kind of drainage, piping or water from the tap.

This investigation includes a variety of issues. These issues can also be addressed in separate studies.

- Capturing water, from the well and of rain water

- Storage, safe and maintaining the quality of water

- Distribution

- Discharge

- Purification of the water

- Re-use of purified water

The terrain of the Pyrenees has difficult access and no electricity. Electricity provision depends on sun- and water-energy. It used to be a village for four big families with cattle breeding and farming. Now the association is looking for establishing a water system for 3-4 households and a 200 m2 vegetable garden which is ecological, self-sustaining and meets the production standards of today.

This research results could be an example for other (semi) abandoned villages in the North of Spain. There are many villages in similar situations and the lack any kind of water system is a big problem.

There is a strict deadline for the realization, but this can be negotiated with the government and local council. For the authorities the water system is of great importance for the development of the village.

Contact person: lummina.horlings@wur.nl

LEADERSHIP MATTERS! Seminar on ‘Leadership in Urban and Regional Development: Debates and New Directions’, 5-6 February 2014, University of Birmingham

This seminar was organised by the ‘Research network on Leadership in Urban and Regional Development, of the Regional Studies Organisation. I have included a summary of the most interesting presentations here, written by Alistair Bowden, Teesside University Business School. For more information, the full report and power-point presentations, please send a mail to lummina.horlings@wur.nl. If you are interested in doing a master thesis on leadership, please contact me as well.

Thirty five enthusiastic academics converged on Park House on the wooded outskirts of the Birmingham University campus on a rainy British morning, but the weather could not dampen spirits. The speakers and discussants were from diverse academic backgrounds (from politics to palaeontology, and from planning to psychology), had varied careers (from a physicist to a field geologist, and from a curator to councillor) and had travelled from disparate locations round the globe (from Auckland to Bishop Auckland, and from Babeş-Bolyai to Birmingham). But we all shared a passion for leadership of place: cities, conurbations, rural areas and regions. Discussing the seminar with a more experienced conference goer on the way back to the station, this mix of disciplines, careers and nationalities, held together by a shared interest in this emerging subfield, was highlighted as the reason for its success: diverse actors and a strange attractor!

John Gibney kicked us off with a brief, considered introduction. This wasn’t going to be an easy conference. We weren’t given the answer at the start. We were going to have to work out ‘what it was all about’ for ourselves.

Our first speaker was Lummina Horlings, who gave a paper on an entrepreneurial rural area just west of Groningen, Netherlands. She was interested in how to enhance collaboration, institutional reform and joint learning to help make a place more resilient. From informal foundations with a small group of visionaries engaging in a pilot project, collective agency emerged through ‘spiral development’ of bottom up initiatives, supporting policy schemes and joint learning by doing. The conclusion was that collaborative leadership played a critical role in enabling success. The discussion explored the motivation(s) to collaborate, the catalytic role of a key actor, the supporting role played by local politicians, the role of the research team and their relationship to the local people.

This was followed Andrew Beer, President of the RSA. Andrew has taken upon himself to try to make sense of leadership of place; to answer the question ‘how do we get beyond case studies?’ But he wasn’t being driven my some esoteric desire for theoretical purity, rather he came across as having a great streak of pragmatism, wanting to do something practical with the growing research on leadership of place.

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Request for a master student: Action Research on Organic Advocacy in the Netherlands

There are many organisations within the Netherlands active in the field of organic advocacy; some are specifically covering one branch in a certain region, others are more general and nationwide. A partner of Otherwise has asked for an action research – as topic for a master thesis- on organic advocacy in the Netherlands. The goal is to map Organic Advocacy in the Netherlands and indicatethe  extent of say and significance to members of the three main players (Biohuis, Bionext, Eko Keurmerk) and discuss the link between Biohuis and LTO Nederland. More information is available, please send a mail to lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Leadership and regions: unlocking the potential of communities

Every year the European Commission organizes Open days in Brussels, where EU Members of Parliament, national, regional and local policy/decision makers, Academics, students and researchers, can inform themselves on a variety of subjects. These Open Days host workshops and debates, and exhibition route, presentation of RegioStars -the most innovative projects co-financed by EU Structural and Investment Funds – and “Open Days University and Master Class”. See the programme.

open days 1The Regional Studies Association (RSA)  and the European Commission (DG Regio) organized 4 Master Classes, including a session for more than 100 participants on Oct. 9th 2013, on the topic of ‘Leadership and Regions: Unlocking the Development Potential of communities’, chaired by Prof. Dr. Andrew Beer. Besides Prof. Beer, Dr. Terry Clower (Texas), Dr. Henrik Halkier and myself were the speakers.  This report is based on the their presentations and the discussion with the audience.

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Stage project / afstudeer mogelijkheid in de stad Groningen

De Werkgroep Pad de 2 Wijken in Groningen willen in het zuidelijke deel van de stad Groningen een communicatie aanpak voor de twee stadswijken Helpman en De Wijert. Doel is de bewoners meer te betrekken bij de aanleg en beheer van groen in de wijk. Dit project vindt plaats in het kader van een programma gericht op samenwerking tussen ‘groene scholen’ en heeft als nevendoel een aanpak te ontwikkelen voor het in kaart brengen van de betekenis die mensen geven aan groen in hun wijk.Helpman Wijert

Helpman en De Wijert zijn stadswijken in het zuidelijke deel van de stad Groningen met veel groen in de vorm van parkjes, groenstroken en plantsoenen. in Wijert zuid, Wijert noord en Helpman en Villabuurt wonen geheel verschillende bevolkingsgroepen. 10% van de bewoners heeft een niet-Westerse achtergrond. Op sommige plekken wordt het groen opgeslokt door bebouwing of verwaarloosd. Er zijn in de buurt ook bijzondere stukjes groen, zoals ‘vierkantemetertuintjes’, de gezamenlijke moestuin en de kruidentuin, groen dat door en met de buurt is bedacht en ontwikkeld en nu ook gezamenlijk wordt onderhouden.

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The Course RSO55306: ‘A global sense of place’ starts 28-10-2013, sign in now!

For whom?

We invite all master students interested in sustainable development, spatial development, community building, place-based policy, rural socio-logy and anthropology for this course.


This course gives an overview of place-based approaches in development. A relational place-based approach is key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and sustainable development. People are networked to both local and extra-local places.; hence they have a global sense of place and one that is locally specific (Massey 1994; Escobar, 2001). Places are considered as contingent but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated, unbounded, transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural. We will have discussions about:

  • Sense of place
  • Places as sites of negotiation and power struggles
  • The constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference.
  • Politics of place.

poster capita selecta 2013-2 final

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Sense of place in a neighbourhood in Groningen: request for a master student

The Rural Sociology Group is looking for a master student who is willing to do his or her master student in the city of Groningen. In Groningen an urban working group of citizens aims to establish an ecological walking route in their neighbourhood Helpman/Wijert. This working group needs support in their process. A group of students from Larenstein has already helped them with a plan and communication.

The aim is to involve the neighbourhood in an action-based explorative research approach, gain insight in the sense of place, values and motivations of the citizens and analyse if this can lead to agency and participation in the green development of this urban area.

This project is part of the wider programme of KIGO, ‘Green education in the city’, aimed at cooperation between educational institutions to enhance green knowledge and green education in the city. This means that the plan is to combine the work of the student with complementary research and implementation activities by other students from for example AOC Terra in Groningen. For this research one or more master students in social sciences are requested. The implementation and starting date of the project is flexible and can be further discussed with the local commissioner, chairman of the Working Group and with Frans Traa, coordinator of the KIGO programme.

Interested students can contact L.G. (Ina) Horlings, Rural Sociology Group, lummina.horlings@wur.nl.


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