I am the holder of a BSc in International Development and Food Policy and a Masters of Economic Science, both from University College Cork. I also hold a Higher Diploma in Economic Science from the National University of Ireland, Galway. During my studies I had the opportunity to work for a number of NGOs in different countries, including a six-month internship working for a microfinance institution in rural Haiti and three months for a grassroots organisation in Punjab, India. In both instances I worked on monitoring and evaluating projects. After completing my masters, I worked for the county council in Kerry. My position was as a graduate economist working within the economic development unit. A large part of my role here was research orientated. I used census data to create socio-economic profiles of towns in Kerry. I also worked on public consultation by surveying residents of towns to create proposed actions for local area plans. After a brief stint as a data analyst for KPMG I joined the RurAction project. My research project
I started my studies with Physics only to move a year later to Economics. I hold an Economics degree from the University of Macedonia, an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics and a second MA in Philosophy from King’s College London. Interdisciplinary education and research have always constituted a priority for me.
My first engagement with the issues of regional development and social economy came with my bachelor thesis in Economics “Development as Self-Management”. I soon realised that the multifaceted occurrence of social economy requires an interdisciplinary approach to be addressed. Thus, my following postgraduate studies came as an endeavour to expand my interpretative lens. At the same time, I tried to enrich a strong mathematical and statistical background with a constant critical stance. This deep belief to a disciplinary permeability and an interest in research led me to RurAction, a fruitful field for a conjugation of the two to flourish. I also developed a forum for the networking of social enterprises around Greece (see here). My research project
Sune W. Stoustrup
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Planning Studies and Communication Studies from Roskilde University, Denmark and a master’s degree from the 4CITIES Master Programme in Urban Studies (jointly organised by Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Universität Wien, Copenhagen University, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Here I graduated based on the thesis: “European Spatial Planning – From Policy to Project in Budapest and Vienna”, where I analysed the implementation and consequences of EU co-financing of urban projects in the two cities. Living, studying and researching in so many different countries made me acutely aware just how diverse the EU really is, and furthermore, how fruitful it is to carry out comparative research in an international setting.
One of my research interests is the territorial cohesion of society – both in a national and international context. While cities seem to be getting all the attention these days (for many good reasons), rural areas are in many ways forgotten both in the media and in politics. As polarisation between city and countryside seems to be rising, voices “from the periphery” are also seen to be growing stronger. As such I find the opportunity to research this through the RurAction ITN project perfect. Before coming to the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space where I am hosted, I have presented at the Nordic Geographers Meeting 2017 on a session on Territorial Cohesion: Between Past and Future, and at the conference for European Urban Research Association 2017, at the session for Europeanisation, cities and urban policies. Additionally I have edited and contributed to the book Cities: Changes, Places, Spaces (University of Vienna, 2017). My research project
Mara van Twuijver
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies and a master’s degree in Strategic Management, both from Tilburg University in the Netherlands. After graduating from university, I successfully gained a place on the multi-company development programme run by ORMIT, a specialist in traineeship. In this graduate programme, I completed assignments for three different companies in the Netherlands while receiving training and coaching through ORMIT. A very rich experience at the start of my career. After finishing the programme, I realised that my love for research was not met in any of the organisations I had worked in so far.
My search for a combination of research and practice led me to the Dutch institute for applied scientific research (TNO). Here, I conducted (applied) scientific research and consulting assignments for both governmental and private organisations. Together with my colleagues, I worked on developing, testing and implementing scientific based interventions aimed at an inclusive labour market and sustainable regional development. It was here that my interest in regional development and social entrepreneurship grew. So when the opportunity came by to conduct PhD research on this topic I did not hesitate to grab it. My wish to be able to dedicate more time to this topic and simultaneously develop my research skills further are completely met by the position of an early stage researcher in the RurAction consortium. My research project
Before joining RurAction, I studied human geography at the University of Eastern Finland and at the University of Turku. Perhaps thanks to my background in Finnish Lapland, I have been interested in the questions of regional development and local livelihood strategies in the peripheries throughout my studies. I approach them, however, as global challenges from the perspective of political economy. Therefore, I have also engaged in social and solidarity economy networks in Finland and Germany in civil life and professionally. Furthermore, I have been working in non-governmental organisations dealing with migration and civic education as well as in the EU-office of East and North Finland in Brussels. Most recently I accomplished a traineeship in financial management in a cooperative, which provides financial advisory and crowdfunding platform for social enterprises in Finland. The aim was to enhance my practical skills in social enterprise management, but I also participated in developing advisory, advocacy and community funding instruments. I have been participating and presenting at different conferences in Finland and internationally, as well as publishing texts on research dissemination platforms among others. My research project
I hold a “Licenciatura” (300 ECTS) in Sociology by Universidad Complutense de Madrid-UCM (Spain), Master’s in International Migration and Ethnic Relations by Malmö University (Sweden) and in Teacher’s Training for Secondary and Vocational Education by Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia-UNED (Spain). Before taking this position as an early stage researcher of the RurAction project, I worked as a research assistant within interdisciplinary teams in national and international projects in the fields of migration, gender relations and public health at the Department of Research Methodology and Communication Theory (Faculty of Sociology – Universidad Complutense de Madrid), and at the Department of Social Psychology (Faculty of Psychology – Universidad de Sevilla). Besides this, I have also been working for several years as a project manager within the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), as a pollster and bell-boy and have volunteered in various NGOs related to migration. Along my career, I have always tried to combine research and practice experiences as I firmly believe in the role of social science as one of the drivers that should fight for improving social justice and equality within societies. My research project
My main academic interests include people’s mobilities, marginalized areas and rural development, as well as gender issues. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in linguistics and translation from the Tomsk State University in Russia and a Master’s degree in “Intercultural mediation: identities, mobilities, conflicts” from KU Leuven, Belgium. As a part of the program I studied and conducted research on anthropology of human mobilities, ethnic relations and minorities, as well as gender relations. I spent a semester in Mexico where I conducted fieldwork for the thesis on migrant diasporas from a gender perspective. After graduating I completed an internship in the UN headquarters in Vienna working on the questions of migrant trafficking. Then for three years I was working as a research assistant in the agricultural research institution “CIMMYT” in the outskirts of Mexico city, conducting research on gender norms and social inclusion in rural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America as a part of a project “GENNOVATE”. The aim of the project was to understand how social norms, including gender norms, affect the ability of rural men and women to adopt agricultural innovations and sustain food security. During this time I became very interested in the social dynamics of marginalized rural areas. Together with other researchers in the project I contributed to developing journal papers and a set of guidance notes aimed at facilitating integration of gender questions in the work of agricultural experts. Having worked in a research for development institution, I have a strong interest in fusion of research and practice, and find that the RurAction program is a wonderful opportunity to bring rural researchers and practitioners together for constructive and fruitful collaborations. My research project
I am an architect, teacher and researcher. My work gravitates around urban, and more recently, rural spatial development projects in disadvantaged regions in the U.K. and internationally. In parallel to practice, I have taught as a senior lecturer in London architecture schools where I developed a teaching-learning program integrating practice, research and co-production methods with communities and postgraduate students addressing specific socio-spatial challenges. I firmly believe in the rich synergy between interconnecting practice, research and teaching and attempt to work at the nexus of these spheres. This led me to join the Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS) and Technische Universität Berlin in October 2017 to write my doctoral thesis. I graduated from the Glasgow School of Art, Macintosh School of Architecture with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture (RIBA part I), and went on to receive a Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA II) under Professors Florian Beigel and Philip Christou, and Professional Practice in Architecture (Part III) from London Metropolitan University, Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design. During this time I co-founded and sat on the board of a local civil society organisation which went on to become a registered charity and shortlisted for the Small Charity of the Year Award. More recently, I have participated in academic conferences in Hannover and Oxford. At the Leibniz Universität Hannover, I presented a contribution on social innovation and spatial transformation in rural regions, entitled: “We’re all it together”. At Oxford Brookes University, my contribution addressed innovation in higher education and research mapping methodologies in the city, entitled: “(Audio-visually) Mapping Redbridge”. I have lectured and curated various exhibitions in London and the U.K., and my collaborative work has been published in architectural and urban design journals and led to national awards. I am currently a member of the Einstein Research Group, NYLON hosted at the Georg Simmel Centre for Metropolitan Studies and part of an international network of urban research groups. I am also a member of the EMES international network for research on social entrepreneurship. My research project
The challenge of small and middle sized municipalities to keep their old towns alive and attractive, dealing with urbanisation and all its consequences, has always been an every-day-topic for me. I was growing up in a family-run textile retail business, where all decision-making was essentially influenced by creativity, fast-forward-thinking and being innovative connected with a strong sense for social responsibility and sustainability for the local area. Thus, to me, linking innovative approaches with regional development, is not only well-known, but also a matter of the heart.
For my Bachelor’s, I studied Sociology and Philosophy in Vienna, Munich, and Maastricht. I also hold a Master’s in “Public Planning for Sustainable Development” from the University of Örebro in Sweden. The programme offered interdisciplinary and problem-oriented perspectives on the challenges of Sustainable Development as a societal and political endeavour on an international scale. Doing so, I realised, how the concepts of Sustainable Development and Social Innovation are essentially contested and thus, how generating long-term impacts in the regions all over the world is an extremely complex undertaking for all stakeholders. This led me to my aim of further investigating the challenges, possibilities and the impact of innovative approaches in regional development. Connecting them with larger societal issues, such as the urban-rural polarisation and the downward spiral of structurally weak regions, and how these shape our understanding, knowledge system, and perceptions in turn, is what I try to work out through a discourse analysis in my PhD project. I am convinced that the way how certain issues are communicated and portrayed in our every-day lives intrinsically shapes the way we perceive and make sense of these issues, which is my basic assumption in studying the impact of innovative solutions on regional discourses and the perception of rural development. My research project
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Studies in European Societies from Saint Petersburg State University (SPBU) in Russia. While doing my master’s, I had a chance to take part in a think tank, ‘European politics’, which was a cooperative project between the Radboud University of Nijmegen and Saint Petersburg State University, dedicated to the credibility of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The main goal of the research project was to understand how different cultural, national, and political contexts influence the understanding and perception of the credibility of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the role those contexts play in the decision-making process. After being a part of an international team working both on a research paper and a policy paper with recommendations for the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO, I had a chance to work in an Berlin-based NGO World Heritage Watch that promotes greater knowledge about UNESCO World Heritage. While doing so, World Heritage Watch also contributes to the sustainable development of World Heritage sites. During my work, I had a chance to work on the strategies for cooperation between the local population, government and non-profit organisations dealing with local development and heritage protection, as well as the promotion of NGO’s rights in decision-making around UNESCO World Heritage sites. That was when I got to know the importance of the endogenous development, and the role that innovative solutions play in community development. Later on, the understanding of the importance of both national and local contexts (be it political, cultural, economic, social) and the way they shape decision-making in regional development was one of the main drivers for me to start my PhD, together with the desire to work both on the research and the practical implementation of its results in the field of innovative solutions and regional development. My research project