Civil Society Governance

The division between Government, Markets and Civil Society is increasingly blurring, like many other things in society seem to get blurred. At least from the perspective of Science, they are increasingly addressed as complex phenomena, which can not easily be reduced to one single principle, one single actor, or one single perspective. The world cannot easily be categorised or containerised anymore. More and more we become aware that the phenomena in our society are actually a contingent and contextual interplay of many different actors and forces. For Geographers the contextuality and place-specificness of these complex phenomena and developments are a fascinating object of research and of Place Making. This also changes the theoretical and conceptual frameworks we apply while investigating these phenomena and developments. Relational approaches like Practice Theories, Actor-Network Theories, Assemblage Theories and Complexity Theories are very much en vogue, addressing the relationships between the heterodox factors, conditions, intentions, and materialities, involved.

Today, Dr Benny D. Setianto, successfully defended his PhD Thesis on “Civil Society Governance”. This term in the first instance might sound paradoxical, because isn’t “Government” the opposite of “Civil Society”? Well, in the face of the above referred to developments in society as well as in the way we tend to conceptualise society, it comes not as a surprise. The traditional, rather containerised, concept of Government is described by Benny Setianto as “Government by Design” and contrasted to the role of Civil Society in this same field of government actions, as “Government by Accident”, or maybe one should say “bottom-up government”, “emergent governance”, or “government by coincidence” or even as the “government by the spontaneous coming together of different forces, actors, intentions and circumstances”. Benny Sentianto critically describes this interplay between Government and Civil Society in the shaping of Semarang Environmental Governance, and how this historically came about, and thus he also contributed to the reconceptualisation of the above-mentioned complexities in today’s society.

His PhD Thesis was supervised by Prof. Huib Ernste, Prof. Bas Arts and Dr Ton van Naerssen and is another result of the close cooperation between Unika Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang Indonesia and our Geography Department at the Radboud University, and there will be more to come…

A passion for teaching

Teaching is much more than just conveying information from the lecturer to students. Nowadays students are anyhow over-fed with information, through a multitude of different channels and media., so that they cannot see the wood for the trees anymore. Real teaching is an experience and a two or multiple way communication process. It is a communal and shared feeling. Especially during the Covid-19 period, when everything was just online and at a distance, we noticed the difference and what was missing. You cannot study the environment and sense of places only from books and from behind the screen. Even though we also embrace the fascinating possibilities of new digital tools in teaching, we are now also very happy to slowly but surely get back to an almost normal teaching situation, where we can feel again the personal engagement of both lecturers and students with each other and with the environment and our joint passion for the geography of places. We very much hope to be able to go into the field with our students again and have excursions together which also creates dense bonds between the learners and the teachers. Since this is certainly also my and our mission in teaching geography, we are also very proud, that one of our appreciated colleagues and Urban geographer, Dr Rianne van Melik, of our Geography Group has now received the well deserved Radboud University Teaching Award (click on the picture to view the short video about Rianne van Melik).

But this is not just about Rianne, but about the passion for teaching, which we try to cherish in our Human Geography group as a whole. The relation to our students is something we take very seriously. So this is not about fulfilling teaching obligations or about following the directives of the educational centre of the university, but about really having a passion for teaching and an engagement with the curiosity of our students.