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:

Human Values and Place-based Development – WASS seminar by dr Marilyn Hamilton

WASS Seminar Human Values and Place-based Development by dr Marilyn Hamilton: Tuesday August 30th, 13.30-15.30, Venue: Room C75, Leeuwenborch

How can human values be the starting point for community and regional development? How can capacities be built, leadership developed and community learning in multi-cultural places be enhanced? How can we create an integral framework for place-making and place-caring?

This seminar is a unique opportunity to hear about Dr. Hamilton’s work in cities and eco-regions and how she sees that sustainability for both are interlinked as a complex adaptive system. Marilyn Hamilton ‘meshworks’ or weaves people, purpose, priorities, profits, programs and processes to develop strategies for resilience. She facilitates sustainable development programs, develops practical tools and supports multi-stakeholder groups in transforming cities and eco-regions into a glocally resilient ‘meshwork’. She states that we need to balance subjective/ intersubjective capacities of people (‘the inner dimensions’) with objective/interobjective capacities (‘the outer dimensions’).

An example is Abbotsford, which had been headlined by the media as the ‘murder capital of Canada’. Here the youth perceived that community didn’t value them as a resource for community. Community workers wanted Abbotsford’s food-based agricultural sector to “cook up cultural harmony” by renewing opportunities for the youth linked to the food chain. The research project used an integral framework and meta-mapping (based on the theory of ‘spiral dynamics integral’) to identify differences and opportunities for the city and develop a monitor (the vital signs monitor) for strategic planning.

Dr. Marilyn Hamilton is Professor of Sustainable Community Development and Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University in Canada. She is a leader, coach, teacher, researcher and Founder of “Integral City Meshworks Inc”, and Jury Member of Globe Sustainable City Awards. She wrote the book, “Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive”.

More information: Ina Horlings, Rural Sociology Group ( or Anouk Brack, Education and Competence Studies (