Education of the Public Administration and Policy Group

PAP offers a wide range of course for bachelor and master students for both technical and gamma students in the field of public administration, policy studies and (global) governance in the Wageningen domains of food, agriculture, water, climate and sustainability. Our courses and in particular the thesis work are crucial for students who envision a career as researcher, consultant or civil servant at research institutes (universities, Environmental Assessment Agency), governmental organizations (EU, ministries, municipalities), private companies and (other) international organizations.

The education provided by PAP gives you the necessary analytical tools and skills to analyse, evaluate and design the management and organization of governance arrangements; politics and policy processes of decision making and implementation; steering instruments; and public-private arrangements.

Contact persons education

GR (Robbert) Biesbroek PhD Education coordinator
dr.ir. O (Otto) Hospes Thesis and internship coordinator MID
dr. JJL (Jeroen) Candel MA Thesis and internship coordinator MME & thesis coordinator MME and BEB
prof.dr. ARPJ (Art) Dewulf if you are following the MIL, MES or MCL programme and interested in doing a thesis with PAP, contact art.dewulf@wur.nl
MH (Maarit) Junnikkala Registration and planning of thesis presentations

Information about BSc minors

Vacancies traineeship / MSc thesis

MSc thesis opportunity: “Case study on controversies around a Dutch large-scale biorefinery”


Project Description:        
Many products that we use in our daily lives, such as plastics or cosmetics, but also transport fuels and energy, are based on fossil mineral oil resources. Large-scale integrated biorefineries are designed to substitute these fossil raw materials by renewable ones, such as plants, algae, and fungi, or waste streams. Goals are for instance to limit the environmental footprint of industrial production and to decrease CO2 emissions to mitigate climate change. The European Commission regards biorefineries as key technology in the transition towards a circular bioeconomy (CBE).

However, biorefineries and the overall CBE transition are controversial. Critics for example question the promised contributions to climate change mitigation, stress that many emissions are often not accounted for (e.g., transportation, methane leaks), and that using so much renewable raw material on industrial scale might lead to environmental trade-offs, particularly on biodiversity and waste generation. Moreover, the local neighbours of a large-scale biorefinery might oppose the positioning of such an installation, for example because of increased noise and odour emissions.

The MSc student will study controversies around a large-scale integrated biorefinery in the Netherlands (e.g., Avantium Delfzijl or Alcoenergy Rotterdam) in detail, identify involved actors and key arguments, as well as changes over time. The aim is to explore how project developers and planning authorities have dealt with controversies, how the biorefinery has been materialized despite of these controversies, and what controversial aspects are still latent.

This MSc thesis opportunity will be embedded within the larger PhD research of Jan Starke that is focused on the governance of controversies in innovation processes of novel biorefinery technologies and the broader transition towards a circular bioeconomy. As part of this research, a comparative analysis will be carried out of controversies in three biorefinery frontrunner regions in the EU. The project is part of the International Marie Skłodowska-Curie Training Network AgRefine, which connects 15 PhD researchers working on biorefineries. The MSc student can be offered a student assistant position to actively engage in the organization of an AgRefine training week hosted by WUR.

Used skills: The MSc student is expected to put qualitative (e.g., semi-structured interviews; process tracing; archival work; historical frame analysis) and participatory (e.g., focus group discussions, participatory observation) research methods into practice.

Requirements: We look for an ambitious student who is capable of working independently. Interested students should have affinity with governance and public administration, conflict resolution, and/or responsible innovation debates, and have experience with qualitative and/or participatory research methods. Students are expected to further develop the above in a stand-alone research proposal, in close coordination with the daily supervisor. An excellent command of Dutch is a prerequisite to be able to perform the required research.