dr.ir. S (Severine) van Bommel

dr.ir. S (Severine) van Bommel

Associate professor

Passionate about planetary health, I am an Associate Professor in Environmental Communication fascinated by the puzzle of how we can learn our way out of the complex social - environmental pathologies facing our increasingly interconnected and globalised world. Spanning the biophysical and social, my work critically engages the communication of meaning in these settings, inspired by insights from interpretive policy analysis, feminist theoretical approaches, post-colonialism and science and technology studies.

Taking an interpretive, practice-oriented approach, I see communication as the construction of meaning in interaction rather than as transfer of information. I investigate how people in interaction: 1) interpret events from their own perspectives, in light of their own experiences; 2) engage with forests, wildlife climate change and so on; and 3) act upon, shape and re-shape broader trends in policy, technology and market. The engagement with what is meaningful to event related actors, and how those meanings, often plural, at times clashing, as well as the consequences of these clashes, lies at the heart of my work. When possible, I move beyond explanation to an intervention of some sort intended to improve the situation, such as for marginalised actors. I work in an applied, interdisciplinary and collaborative manner. I have researched these topics for over 15 years in various parts of the world.

My work is elaborated in four research themes:

1) Boundary work and doing difference well
How does communication of meaning in interaction 'do' difference by connecting, partially connecting or disconnecting people as well as people and their environment? How does this draw and re-draw the boundaries of the system of interest? With what consequences?

2) Circulation of meaning in landscapes of practices
How do heterogeneous elements of meaning circulate? How do technologies mediate or are mediated by circulation of meaning?

3) Performance and orchestration of connective action
How to identify, understand and orchestrate communicative practices in theoretically informed ways to create space for change?

4) Interpretive methods and methodology for communication research
How to study this well?

My publications include the edited books Forest-People Interfaces (Wageningen Academic Publishers 2012) and Forest and Nature Governance: a Practice based Approach (Springer 2013). Many of my projects are embedded in international research networks such as CCAFS (CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security); CADWAGO (international consortium on climate change adaptation and water governance) and the Interpretive Policy Analysis network whose 2014 conference I co-organised.