Ir. Geesje Kuit: Creating the landscape

Development Policy27 Aug 2009Geesje Kuit

It was an interesting morning. What happens between science and practice? The state of the art of ‘Transdisciplinary Research’ was illustrated using regional cases that deal with landscape and transformation. It was remarked that, with the acting force for change being external (coming from the scientific planners), who is the owner of the problem, and how is it possible to avoid the bad feelings of stakeholders, being the objects for change?

Evelien Steingröver discussed strategies, at spatial and organizational levels, to make knowledge acceptable, credible and relevant. In this way, she made it clear that there exists benefit for all! Local knowledge and peer review of stakeholders should be incorporated.

The anthropological action research of Shantala Morlans solved the complex problems of overpopulation of the water hole. By a mix of individual and collective (and intermediate) approaches, she was able to transform an ideological debate into a ‘contextualized controversy’. Compliments! She managed to deal with emotions in a complex situation by creating knowledge and act.

The example of water storage from Lambert Verheijen explained how agreements with inhabitants can be reached. He has good experience with the environmental assessment report that functioned as a mediation tool and succeeded in a pilot area. The discussion point was: if the water boards evolve into large corporations, are they able to handle local knowledge at larger scales?

Planning the urban landscape in Almere – the fastest growing city in the Netherlands – was initiated by setting a social agenda. Gerhard Dekker asked citizens to give their vision of living in Almere in the future, and communicated this with planners. He involved politicians in this network, and debated strategies, before making plans!

Is this moving towards a knowledge democracy? It seems important that the intentions have to be made clear for the citizens, as the image of a ‘sophisticated Machiavelli’ lies around the corner.