Celebrating 75 years of Rural Sociology

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University will celebrate its 75th Anniversary on May 13, 2022 with a public event entitled “Rural Sociology: past, present and future”.

Venue: Akoesticum, Nieuwe Kazernelaan 2D42, 6711 JC Ede, The Netherlands (registration has closed).

For more information: ruralsociology2022@gmail.com

At the event we will reflect upon the history of rural sociology and discuss future challenges in a lively and interactive setting.

Program

08.30 – Registration and coffee/thee

09.00 – Opening by Arthur Mol (Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University)

09.30 – Keynote Han Wiskerke
Meaningful diversity: Past, present and future of rural   sociology

10.00 – Keynote Haroon Akram-Lodhi
From peasant studies to critical agrarian studies

10.45 – Break

11.00 – Rural Talk Show – Interactive session including invited guests and audience participation. The Talk Show is chaired by Matt Reed, with Jan Douwe van der Ploeg as a permanent table guest, and changing table guests around the following three themes:
– Societal engagement or academic distance; with Jessica Duncan, Aya Kimura, Han Wiskerke
– Discussing the rural-urban dichotomy;
 with Henk Oostindie, Sally Shortall, Esther Veen
– A continuing debate: agency and structure; 
with Bettina Bock, Bram Büscher, and Mark Vicol

12.15 – Closure morning session

12.30 – Lunch

14.00 – Workshops

15.30 – Keynote Hannah Wittman
Bridging rural and urban through agroecological networks: cultivating agrarian citizenship in a climate crisis

16.30 – Imagining the next 25 years of rural sociology. Interactive session around three research agenda’s, briefly pitched by RSO staff, followed by an open floor exchange of ideas and discussion:
– Agriculture – introduction Kees Jansen
– Place – introduction Joost Jongerden
– Food – introduction Jessica Duncan

18.00 – Closure, drinks and conference diner

Keynote speakers:

Haroon Akram-Lodhi – ‘From peasant studies to critical agrarian studies
Haroon Akram Lodhi is Professor of Economics and International Development Studies at Trent University, Canada. His research interest is in the political economy of agrarian change, the future of smallholder peasant communities in the world food system, on the sustainability of rural social structures, relations and institutions, and gender and rights based economics. https://sites.google.com/site/aharoonakramlodhi/home

Arthur Mol – Opening
Arthur Mol was trained in environmental sciences (MSc) and environmental social sciences (PhD). Besides being Chair and Professor of Environmental Policy at Wageningen University he was also Professor of Environmental Policy at Renmin University, China, at Tsinghua University, China, and at the National University of Malaysia UKM. He was joint editor of the journal Environmental Politics, and is book series editor of New Horizons in Environmental Politics. His main fields of interest and publications are in environmental studies, globalization, social theory and the environment, informational governance, ecological modernization, China, sustainable (food) production and consumption and urban environmental governance. Currently, he is Rector Magnificus and Vice-President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research and president of the Association of European Life Science Universities (ICA). https://www.wur.nl/en/Persons/Arthur-prof.dr.ir.-APJ-Arthur-Mol.htm

Hannah Wittman – ‘Bridging rural and urban through agroecological networks: cultivating agrarian citizenship in a climate crisis
Hannah Wittman is Professor Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Her research examines the ways that the rights to produce and consume food are contested and transformed through struggles for agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and agrarian citizenship. Her projects include community-based research on farmland access, transition to organic agriculture, and seed sovereignty in British Columbia, agroecological transition and the role of institutional procurement in the transition to food sovereignty in Ecuador and Brazil, and the role that urban agriculture and farm-to-school nutrition initiatives play in food literacy education. http://ires.ubc.ca/person/hannah-wittman/

Han Wiskerke – ‘Meaningful diversity: past, present and future of rural sociology’
Han Wiskerke is Professor of Rural Sociology and Chair of the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University since 2004. From January 2013 until June 2016 he was also  Professor of Foodscape Studies and Design at the Academy of Architecture (Amsterdam University of the Arts). His main research themes during the past 15 years have been a) agrarian and rural development, b) city-region food systems and c) urban-rural relations. He was founding editor-in-chief of Urban Agriculture and Regional Food Systems from 2014 – 2018 and (co-)editor of books on agrarian & rural transitions, food planning, foodscape studies & design, urban agriculture, and sustainable & regenerative food systems. https://www.wur.nl/nl/personen/han-prof.dr.ir.-jsc-han-wiskerke.htm

Participants in the Rural Talk Show session and the Imagining the next 25 years of rural sociology session:

Bettina Bock is Professor for Inclusive Rural Development at the Rural Sociology Chairgroup at Wageningen University and Professor for Population Decline and Quality of Life at Groningen University. Her areas of research include inclusive rural development and social innovation, with a particular focus on remote and depopulating rural areas, governance, migration and rural gender relations. From 2013-2019 she was the editor-in-chief of Sociologia Ruralis. In addition, she is a board members of the European Society for Rural Sociology and the International Rural Sociology Association. She has been invited as guest professor at the Università di Gastronomia in Pollenza in 2020), Cornell University in the United States (2019), Kyoto University (2018) and Newcastle University (2017). https://www.wur.nl/nl/personen/bettina-prof.dr.ir.-bb-bettina-bock.htm

Bram Büscher is Professor and Chair of the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University. He holds visiting positions at the Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies of the University of Johannesburg and the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of Stellenbosch University, in South Africa. His research interests revolve around the political economy of conservation and development, the politics of energy and extraction, ecotourism, new media and social theory. More info at www.brambuscher.com

Jessica Duncan is Associate Professor in the Politics of Sustainable Food Systems in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University, is a researcher and educator committed to social justice. Jessica is widely recognised for her expertise on the politics of sustainable food system transition. She is a founding member of the Centre for Unusual Collaborations (CUCo) and sits on the editorial board of Sociologia Ruralis. https://www.wur.nl/nl/personen/jessica-dr.-jab-jessica-duncan.htm

Kees Jansen is an Associate Professor in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. His work connects the fields of political ecology, critical agrarian studies and international development. His current research focusses on pesticide risk governance and social movements concerned about pesticides. More info at www.keesjansen.eu

Joost Jongerden is an Associate Professor in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. His research on ‘Do-It-Yourself Development’ aims to identify the possibilities of alternative futures grounded in peoples’ daily practices and present struggles. His geographical focus is Kurdistan and Turkey. He holds a position as professor at the Asian Platform for Global Sustainability and Transcultural Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, and has been a visiting professor at Toronto University in 2018. In 2012 he was a founding member of the journal Kurdish Studies, of which he was an editor until 2020. In 2021 he founded the journal Commentaries. He is a board member of the European Union Turkey Civic Commission. https://wur.academia.edu/JoostJongerden

Aya H. Kimura – professor of sociology at the University of  Hawai`i-Manoa. Her research analyzes the intersections of technoscience, gender, and  sustainability. She has had research projects in Indonesia, Japan, and Hawai`i, and has written on agrobiodiversity, fermentation, food safety, nutrition science and the idea of “smart food.”  Among others, she examines diverse practical experiences with citizen science on a range of food and farming issues, from seed development to toxicants to biodiversity. https://ayakimura.weebly.com/

Henk Oostindie – Senior Researcher in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. He has a longstanding experience in researching the socio-economic aspects of rural development, including topics as farming styles, multifunctional agrarian pathways, food chain dynamics, multi-level rural governance and rural-urban interdepencies. A significant part of his empirically grounded research interests took place within comparative analysis and policy oriented European projects.

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg – Emeritus Professor and the former Chair of the Rural Sociology Group in Wageningen. In his position as Professor of Rural Sociology, he elaborated the inquiry into the expressions, implications and underlying mechanisms of heterogeneity in agriculture. He was also closely involved in some of the grass root initiatives that aimed at developing (practical) new alternatives to the reigning model of ongoing scale-increase and further industrialization of agriculture and rural development. http://www.jandouwevanderploeg.com/EN/

Matt Reed – Associate Professor in Food Citizenship and director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) at the University of Gloucestershire (UK). He is a sociologist with research interests in how and why social change takes place around food. His research rests upon the intersections of political sociology, cultural studies and rural geography. http://www.ccri.ac.uk/reed/

Sally Shortall – Duke of Northumberland Professor of Rural Economy at the Centre for Rural Economy, Newcastle University (UK). Her research interest is in rural sociology, community studies, rural development and rural proofing, agriculture, farm families. She is specifically known for her work on gender and agriculture. https://www.ncl.ac.uk/cre/about/staff/profile/sallyshortall.html#background

Esther Veen worked as an Assistant Professor at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University until 2021. She taught courses on urban food, food and identity, foodscapes and alternative food networks, and studied urban food initiatives, urban food growing and the effects of green on health and wellbeing. She is currently lector (reader) Urban Food Issues at Aeres University of Applied Sciences Almere, working closely with research institute Flevo Campus. She studies how food routines change and normalise, and how the urban environment can stimulate healthier and more sustainable food patterns. She is specifically interested in the interplay between the food environment and everyday routines around shopping, cooking and eating. She also focuses on the role of urban agriculture in the urban food system. 
https://www.aereshogeschool.nl/onderzoek/lectoren-en-onderzoekers/esther-veen

Mark Vicol is Assistant Professor of Agrarian Sociology in the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University. My research focuses on the intersections between rural livelihoods, agricultural development and agrarian change in South and Southeast Asia. I explore integrative approaches to understanding patterns of change at the intersections of micro-scale rural livelihoods and the macro-scale political-economic structures and social relations that underpin global capitalism. Specifically, I am interested in the changing relationships between land, agriculture, rural livelihoods and inequality; the livelihood implications for rural households of modern agricultural global value chains, and the politics of value chain development; and broader political economy questions about patterns of agrarian accumulation and differentiation and the future of small farmers and agriculture in the region.
https://www.wur.nl/en/Persons/Mark-dr.-MR-Mark-Vicol.htm

Venue: Akoesticum, Nieuwe Kazernelaan 2D42, 6711 JC Ede, The Netherlands.

Akoesticum

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

SUSPLACE Programme vacancies: 15 Early Stage Research positions at six universities

marie curie actionsSUSPLACE is a Marie Curie Actions Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission that will kick-off October 1, 2015. SUSPLACE aims to train 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to study sustainable place-shaping practices. These 15 ESR positions at six universities are now open for application till midnight October 7, 2015 (opening has been extended). See the list of the 15 individual research projects and host universities below.

The SUSPLACE approach will provide insight into how to utilize the full potential of places and communities for development and help to build capacities of people to engage in place-shaping processes and thus strengthen connectivity between policy-makers, academics, businesses and civil society.

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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

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

Request for a master student interested in place, landscape and population

The PeerGrouP is a location-art group that specializes in site-specific theatre and visual arts in the northern provinces of the Netherlands. The PeerGrouP consists of a lively mix of theatre makers and artists who are inspired by the landscape, the location and the local inhabitants. The quality of food, ecology, practical knowledge of the landscape, community spirit and the supply of energy are recurring themes within the PeerGroup’s projects.

The PeerGroup is looking for artists and researchers willing to participate in their P.A.I.R. (Portable Artist in Residence) project. The P.A.I.R.-project promotes artistic social commitment while focusing attention on man and his surroundings. The P.A.I.R. will be visiting three different locations (Veenkoloniën, Donderen, de Wolden) in the north of the Netherlands (Drenthe) to meet local inhabitants and to investigate their surroundings. In the past three years, the PeerGrouP realized three P.A.I.R.-projects every year. In 2012, the P.A.I.R.’s fourth year, the theme is Landscape Population. The landscape and its meanings in relation to the inhabitants and other users will be looked at on different levels.

The Rural Sociology Group and the Peer Group are looking for a  (preferably Dutch speaking)  master student interested in landscape, place, population and art, who is enthusiastic to do his/her internship or thesis in this site-specific project, starting preferably around August. The student-researcher will actually stay in the P.A.I.R. (see photo) for a while in September, in the area of the Wolden (near Meppel) in the  north of the Netherlands, while doing participative research.

Possible research questions are for example:
– What is ‘sense of place’ for the local population in the Wolden?
– Which meanings to they give to the landscape?
– Do inhabitants experience local identities? Do they have story-lines related the landscape?
– How are meanings, identities and sense of place linked to underlying values of people?
– How can meanings identities and sense of place be translated to recommendations for practice and policy? (people’s participation, community cohesion, networks)

Places are constituted by sedimented social structures and cultural practices, endowed with meaning and the constitution of identities, subjectivities and difference. In other words: culture sits in places. ‘Sense of place’ refers to an individual’s connection with a place (location, building, landscape) and to their experience of place, including different senses (sight, hearing, smell, movement, touch, imagination, purpose and anticipation). It is both individual and inter-subjective, closely connected to community as well as to personal memory and self. Sense of place has many components such as place attachment, place identity, place commitment and dependency, belongingness or rootedness or community connectedness and community cohesion. We will focus here on ‘Sense of landscape’. Sense of place is rooted in underlying values, about what people perceive as important for their quality of life. People value places and express agency and take leadership in shaping their own place. On the local level people reflect on and negotiate the conditions of engagement/participation, rooted in underlying values. If people become more aware of their source of passion, values, feelings and sense making, this can enlarge our ‘cultural repertoire’ and lead to a more inspired use of our environment.

The student researcher will carry out ‘on-site’ participatory research from a development and/or historic perspective on the sense of place and values of the local population in the Wolden in Drenthe, in the early autumn of 2012. The student will potentially cooperate with students from other educational institutes (AOC’s).The research will be supervised by the RSO group (Ina Horlings) and the Peer Group (Henry Alles). If you are interested, please send a mail before March to Ina Horlings (lummina.horlings@wur.nl).