The Scientific Committee

Prof. Joost Dessein - CHAIR

Prof. Joost Dessein is scientific coordinator at the Social Sciences Unit of ILVO (the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research). He also lectures at the department of Agricultural Economics (Ghent University) and is affiliated with the Centre for Sustainable Development (Ghent University). Joost has a degree in Agricultural Engineering and a Master's and PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Some current research themes are integrated regional development in an urbanising countryside and the governance of urban agriculture. He also studies complex decision-making as a ‘political matter', such as the governance of the EU GMO regime, or the discursive struggles in agriculture and innovation decision making processes. His research focuses on European and African regions. He has been the vice-chair of an international COST network that studied the role and meaning of culture in sustainable development. He is also co-editor of the book series ‘Routledge Studies in Culture and Sustainable Development'.

Bálint Balázs

Mr. Bálint Balázs, MSc in History and Sociology, PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences, Research Fellow and Lecturer of Environmental Sociology at the Department of Organic Farming and Agri-Environmental Planning, Institute of Nature Conservation and Landscape Management, St. István University, Gödöllő, Hungary. He has international research experience in EU projects in the field of environmental and food sociology, sustainable and local food systems, alternative agro-food networks, community agriculture, mixed and participatory methods, action research and cooperative research. Bálint is a board member of the Environment & Society Research Network of the ESA. He is a member of European Society of Rural Sociology (ESRS) and country contact person for Living Knowledge – International Network of Science Shops. He is the Managing Director and a Senior Research Fellow of the Environmental Social Science Research Group (ESSRG), a small research and development enterprise (R&D SME) that works on the boundaries of environmental and social sciences practised in a transdisciplinary approach.

Dr. Michiel de Krom

Dr. Michiel de Krom is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation - Flanders at the Department of Sociology of Ghent University, and the Social Sciences Unit of ILVO (the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research), in Belgium. Previously, he worked at the Environmental Policy Group of Wageningen University (the Netherlands), where he obtained his PhD in 2010 with a study on ‘Food Risks and Consumer Trust: European Governance of Avian Influenza.' Michiel's main research interests are at the intersection of rural sociology, environmental sociology, and science and technology studies. His work focuses on conceptualising and analysing science-society relations and human-animal relations in agri-food governance, and the role of multifunctional agriculture in sustainable rural development. Among his recent publications are ‘Governing animal-human relations in farming practices: the case of group housing of sows in the EU' (Sociologia Ruralis, 2015), and with Joost Dessein and Nathalie Erbout: ‘Understanding relations between science, politics, and the public: the case of a GM field trial controversy in Belgium' (Sociologia Ruralis, 2014).

Prof. Talis Tisenkopfs

Prof. Talis Tisenkopfs is a director of Baltic Studies Centre in Riga and professor of sociology at University of Latvia. His research focuses on knowledge processes and innovation in agriculture and rural development, food security, food supply chains, and post-socialist transformation of agriculture and rural areas. Vice President of the European Society for Rural Sociology (2015-2017) and former independent expert on agricultural knowledge and innovation systems at European Commission, Directorate E: Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food (2010-2011). Former editor-in-chief of Latvia Human Development Reports published by UNDP. Talis is Latvian team leader of many EU Framework and Horizon 2020 projects on rural development, innovation and sustainable food provisioning, including SUSPLACE, SUFISA, TRANSMANGO, GLAMUR, SOLINSA, and other. Member of the Expert Committee in Humanities and Social Sciences of the Latvian Council of Science (2013–2018) and member of the COST Scientific Committee (2015–2016).

Dr. Maria Partalidou

Dr. Maria Partalidou is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Agriculture, Laboratory of Rural Sociology and Agricultural Extensions (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece). She is involved in both research and teaching at Bachelor's and Master's courses, and supervises a number of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students. Currently her research interests fall within local food systems, urban agriculture, corporate social responsibility in rural areas, young farmers and rural tourism. She has published and reviewed papers in scholarly journals: Sociologia Ruralis, Journal of Rural Studies, Journal of Agricultural Education & Extension, South European Society and Politics, Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship etc. and has contributed to collective published books and to national-international conference proceedings. She has more than 10 years of experience as coordinator and executive researcher in national and EU co-funded research projects. She is also a member-advisor in the Thematic Groups for the Strategic Development (2014-2020) by the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food in Greece.

Dr. Katriina Soini

Dr. Katriina Soini is a Cultural Geographer working as a Principal Research Scientist at Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland and as a Sustainability Science Fellow at University of Helsinki (2015-2017). She is an Adjunct Professor at University of Eastern Finland in rural and environmental policy. Her research has focused primarily on social and cultural aspects of rural development (livelihoods, landscape, biodiversity). Her research is mainly rooted in cultural geography in particular in "place" and "landscape" connected with environmental policy and governance studies. She chaired the COST Action IS1007 "Investigating Cultural Sustainability" (2011-2015) and was a Vice-Chair of the COST Action 866 Green Care in Agriculture. Besides her own publication work she is an editor of Routledge Studies in Culture and Sustainable Development and former editor-in-chief of Finnish Journal of Rural Research and Policy.

Dr. Ruth McAreavey

Dr. Ruth McAreavey is a lecturer in Spatial Planning at Queen's University Belfast. Previously she has worked for various organisations including local government and third sector bodies. Currently her work focuses on migration to new gateways and the way in which this impacts on destination and sending countries. This raises all sorts of questions about equality, gender, identity, mobility, intersectionality, all of which interest her. She is also interested in rural development and regeneration, research ethics, urban planning and community development and she has published in these areas. Her interests are also pursued through involvement in various networks including TARRN and MICaRD. She regularly evaluates funding proposals for the European Commission's Horizon 2020 programme and for Formas (the Swedish Research Council). She also frequently reviews publications for quality journals including Journal of Rural Studies and Rural Sociology. Her monograph on migration is due to be published with Routledge in 2017.