News

Organizational strategies for Environmental Education Centers: Thesis and internship topics

Published on
November 4, 2022

The thesis and internship topics below are part of a broader project that aims to support EECs in successfully broadening their range of activities.

Organizational strategies for Environmental Education Centers

Thesis and internship topics

In many Dutch municipalities, Environmental Education Centers (EECs) are established to foster environmental awareness and action among residents. With a total number of about 140, some of them are organized as private non-profit organizations, while others fall completely or partly under the municipal organization. They engage in a broad range of activities, including school education, citizen participation, educational and recreational animal farms, social welfare, local food markets, and facilitating meetings of local groups. The thesis and internship topics below are part of a broader project that aims to support EECs in successfully broadening their range of activities.

The project is carried out by Wageningen Economic Research for the WUR Science Shop, in partnership with GDO (a platform of municipalities for environmental action) and SME (a non-profit environmental consultancy, affiliated with GDO).

Supervision in ENP will be by Kris van Koppen. For any questions or comments, you can mail him at kris.vankoppen@wur.nl.

Thesis: SDG Impact assessment for Environmental Education Centers.

An important challenge for EECs is to present their added value for society in a concrete and appealing way to their municipality and other supporters. A promising instrument to do so is SDG impact assessment. SDG impact assessment tools are currently explored from different sides (academia, consultancies, companies, social enterprises). The scope of this research topic is investigating the suitability of such tools for EECs and, if possible, contributing to selection or design of a practical tool. Possible research strategies include a review of (international) literature on SDG assessment tools, and interviews with EECs and organizations offering such tools. The thesis can start as soon as the student wants and should be finalized before July 2023.

Thesis: Barriers to the success of Environmental Education Centers (Dutch language skills required)

Over the last two decades, several Dutch EECs have been confronted with fallbacks in achieving their mission. Budget cuts, shortage in personnel, problems in coordinating volunteer work, lack of visibility to other organizations, and other factors have made good functioning difficult. To support EECs in overcoming these challenges, it is important to investigate successful cases, but it is equally important to better understand the barriers encountered by the less successful ones. This thesis topic focuses on the latter, by investigating the barriers encountered by EECs and identifying potential organizational change strategies for coping with them. Possible research strategies include a review of literature on the potentials and barriers of EEC-like organizations, and interviews with EECs and experts in the field of EEC strategies. The thesis can start as soon as the student wants and should be finalized before July 2023.

Internship with SME: Developing a training program for EEC leaders (Dutch language skills required).

SME is a well-known Dutch social enterprise for environmental consultancy to municipalities and non-profit organizations. It is a central partner in the abovementioned project and offers an internship position for a student who will carry out research tasks within this project. One key task is developing and taking a survey among EECs; another is to develop a diagnostic tool for EECs based on the results of other research within this project. The final selection of activities will be done in consultation with the intern during the internship. The internship can start from December 2022 and should be finalized before July 2023.