Prof.dr.ir. Anne van den Ban
The research of the first professor, Anne van den Ban, focussed on individual adoption and decision-making processes. He argued that understanding the role of communication required insights from many disciplines including sociology, social psychology, communication science, pedagogy and marketing. This multi-disciplinary approach can still be recognised today.
During this first part of the history, a great deal of insight was gained on how different types of messages, media and methods might influence various stages of decision-making. In addition, expertise was developed on how communicative strategies could be tailored to the needs of specific clients and target groups. While these matters were initially studied in the context of agriculture, professor van den Ban soon expanded the activities of his research group in the direction of areas like health promotion and environmental education.
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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.dr. Cees van Woerkum
Cees van Woerkum studied Sociology of Mass Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen (formerly known as the Catholic University of Nijmegen). He received his PhD in 1984 on planning in communication programmes. Since 1971 he is working at the sub-department Communication Science. In the 70’s he was mostly working on the subject of communication through mass media and in the 80’s he moved to the area of policy development and implementation, focussing on communication as one of the policy instruments. From the 90’s onwards his main interest is communication and interactive policy making. Since 1989 he is professor and chair of the department. In 2001 he moved to the new chair Communication Strategies with an orientation on strategies to support change in everyday life situations and in the relationship between organisations and their environment.
Cees van Woerkum retired on 1 November 2011.
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