Behaviour and Transitions PhD Symposium: Crossing the levels in driving sustainability transitions

14 June 2021 14:00 till 17:00 - Location: Online - By: Communicatie BK

The purpose of this PhD symposium is to bring together researchers from three projects funded within the NWO Research Programme of ‘Behaviour and Transitions’, in order to exchange knowledge and research findings and discuss how research is making a difference to accomplishing sustainability transitions.

The three projects include:

  • Stepping Out’, which aims to examine and develop ways to accelerate inter-professional and interorganisational learning for achieving deep sustainability transitions;
  • TransCiBo, which aims to explore, reflect and learn from behavioural interventions in the collaborative practices in the design phase of circular construction projects, and;
  • VR-Renovate, which aims to give social tenants a voice during sustainable renovation of their homes by using immersive visualization to increase the acceptability and acceptance for sustainability measures.


14:00h – 14:10h

Brief overview of the three projects:

  1. ‘Stepping Out’ – Paul Chan, Michaela Hordijk, Tuna Tasan-Kok, John Heintz and Gert-Joost Peek
  2. TransCiBo – Alfons van Marrewijk, Ellen van Bueren and Hans Wamelink
  3. VR-Renovate – Clarine van Oel and Elmar Eisemann

14:25h – 15:25h

Policy Formation and Translation – A study on learning for sustainable transformations in port area development by Edith van Ewijk (Postdoc, ‘Stepping Out’)

In the framework of the ‘Stepping Out’ project, I would like to focus on the question how learning plays a role in the process of policy formation and translation towards sustainable transitions of port area development.  My interest centers around three main topics: 1) the influence of rules and regulations in learning processes, 2) the role of paradoxes in learning processes and 3) the role of researchers engaging in and contributing to these learning processes.  This research focus is based on a systematic review of the broad body of knowledge on learning for sustainable transitions, as well as a first exploratory phase of action research in the two case studies: Haven-Stad in Amsterdam and Makersdistict/ Merwe-Vierhavens in Rotterdam.

VR Communication by Chris Benning (PhD, VR-Renovate)

The communication between social housing tenants and housing corporations on renovations is delicate and complex.  Many social housing tenants don’t speak the native dutch language or are partly/fully illiterate.  To decrease this communication gap, we implement 3D immersive VR communication models within the research of VR-renovate.

Transforming Inter-organizational Collaborative Behaviour In and Beyond Circular Construction Projects by Elonie Kooter (PhD, TransCiBo)

Recently, the attention and momentum for the shift towards a circular construction economy has increased significantly, but the creation of new practices of collaboration between actors in the design activities of construction projects remains one of the main challenges.  Familiar social practices must be unlearned or adapted, and in a process of sense-making and negotiation new practices need to be created.  By researching the actual collaborative practices in projects, the conditions for successful inter-organizational collaboration at the micro level, and the creation of new roles and work practices, this study will contribute to understanding the ways systems are created and changed through a strategic interplay of different actors.

15:25h – 15:35h

Coffee Break

15:35h – 16:35h

Striking the Right Balance between Flexibility and Regulations in Governing Sustainability Transitions: Exploring Co-responsibilization dynamics as Spaces for Social learning in Urban Redevelopment by Loreto Rocco Silva (PhD, ‘Stepping Out’)

Sustainability transitions require a critical re-imagining of the meaning of responsibility between state, market and civil society in emergent governance practices.  The aim of this research is to analyse the dynamics of co-responsibilization, as action spaces for social learning, in relation to flexible institutional infrastructures.  To this end, this research adopts a case-study approach to the inner-city (port)industrial regeneration process of the Haven-Stad area in Amsterdam, which is considered an Urban Living Lab for sustainable urban area development.

Changing Behaviour in Networks: From circular building projects towards a circular building economy by Mart van Uden (PhD, TransCiBo)

The transition towards a circular building economy is often considered to take place within a complex system that is multi-dimensional, multi-sectoral, multi-level, and multi-aspectual, consisting of a multitude of actors that all have agency and different interpretations of the concepts at hand.  In order to do justice to this complexity, the focus of this research is on mapping the chain of decision-making in and beyond the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction sector that leads to (the lack of) circular construction processes using Actor-Network Theory methodology. Interventions will be conducted to get a grasp on the degree to which these processes are institutionalised, which will allow for the creation of a toolbox consisting of instruments and perspectives on how to change this chain of decision-making in order to speed up the transition.

How do Regime-level Actors Learn in Sustainability Transitions? by Kees Stam (PhD, ‘Stepping Out’)

The sustainability transitions literature has highlighted learning processes in the context of niche experiments (e.g. pilot projects or innovation initiatives).  Far less is known about how regime level actors learn in transitional contexts and long-term societal change processes.  The learning of regime level actors will be investigated in the context of Rotterdam Makers District, a large-scale urban area development program in the port-city interface.

16:35h – 17:00h

Plenary discussion: How are we making a difference in the ‘Behaviour and Transitions’ programme?

Possible points for reflection:

  • What have we learnt about learning in a multi-actor (and multilevel) environment?
  • What is the role of the researcher?
  • What are the highlights and lowlights about engaging with societal and industrial partners?


  • Zoom link
  • Meeting ID: 947 0322 7425
  • Passcode: Transitie