Prof.dr.ir. Niels Röling
In 1983 Professor Van den Ban was succeeded by Professor Niels Röling. He recognised quickly that the science-based messages and technologies promoted by change agents were frequently inadequate and inapplicable for prospective clients. He began to problematise how such messages came about, and concluded that it was insufficient to only study communication between change agents and clients. His main argument was that many others (e.g. researchers, policy-makers, agro-industry, bureaucrats, etc.) influenced whether or not appropriate innovations came about.
As an alternative, Röling proposed to analyse and improve the functioning of (agricultural and other) Knowledge and Information Systems.The research of the group shifted to how such systems could be characterised, understood and managed as a whole, and on how science could become a more interactive endeavour. Röling was head of the department until 1989, but he remained member of the group as a special professor until his retirement in 2002. An important theme in his later work became the management of eco-systems and natural resources. A common denominator of Rölings work that is still visible today, is the emphasis on understanding collective learning processes within networks of interdependent actors operating in broader agro-ecological environment.
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Prof. Paul Richards
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