Wednesday, February 13, 2013

PhD position on the role of social media hypes and controversies in sustainability governance


As part of the Informational Governance research programme at Wageningen University, a proposal for a Phd project submitted by Noelle Aarts (Strategic Communication group) and myself (Public Administration and Policy group) has been granted! We are now looking for a PhD candidate on the following topic:

Social media as the new playing field for the governance of sustainable agro-food systems: Twitter hypes, controversies and stakeholders’ strategies

Governmental, business and civil society organizations engaged in the governance of sustainable agro-food systems face the challenge of dealing with an increasingly important but capricious public sphere formed by the social media. Public and private decision-making processes about sustainable agro-food systems are increasingly affected by both hypes and controversies in the social media, often through their interplay with mass media like newspapers, radio or television. Little is known, however, about what happens to information about sustainable agro-food systems when it travels through social media networks, or when and how hypes or controversies arise. To deal with this capricious public sphere, governmental, business or civil society organizations are developing and trying out strategies for monitoring or engaging with social media, but little is known about what these communication strategies entail and what their impact is. By monitoring and analysing Twitter activity related to sustainable agro-food systems, this project will study (1) when and how information leads to hypes or controversies on Twitter; (2) which social media strategies are used by governmental, business and civil society organizations to deal with this new public sphere; and (3) what the impact is on public and private decision-making processes about sustainable agro-food systems.

We are looking for someone with a keen interest in communication and sustainability governance, familiarity with social media and ICT tools, and preferably a background in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The official job opening for a 4-year Phd position at Wageningen University can be found at www.academictransfer.com/17549. The deadline for applications is March 17th. You can contact Noelle or myself if you need more information.

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