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Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development
Bringing sustainability science forward

Transitions and Social Justice

Focus: This research group explores how we can understand different and intersecting dynamics of political, economic, ecological and post-conflict transitions with the focus on the demands of social justice that such transformations usually do not meet. We will provide a connecting platform for critical and interdisciplinary engagement with transitions, transformations and social justice struggles.

Approach: The research group intersects approaches of political science, human geography, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, environmental studies and related disciplines to work out analytical tools for scrutinising various aspects of transitions and their discontents – including the processes of transitional justice, economic privatisation, social atomization, globalisation, nationalisation, etc. We will facilitate empirical and theoretical work that further roots justice, equality and equity concerns into the debates on transitions and transformations. The scope of this group includes discussions on both the concept and conceptions of social justice (Moroni, 2020). We will consider, question, interrelate and further develop particular conceptions of social justice (by studying the characteristics based on which distinctions are made between individuals and groups that can be considered unjust) while also reflecting on the underlying concepts of social justice (which consider when arbitrary distinctions are justified).


Become a visible hub for interfaculty research on social justice, equality/equity, and transitions and transformations

Become a hub for socially engaged research and teaching in an interfaculty context

Connect to and complement the work of the Democracy and Governance Initiative by examining how principles of liberal democracy and rule of law intersect with the demands for social justice, equity and just transitions; analyse how activist and artivist collectives and broader social movements articulate demands for justice and just transitions across different times and geographies, and how philosophy, literature and art articulate new forms for thinking interconnections of democracy and justice

Enhance visibility of the interdisciplinary conversations between social sciences and humanities particularly in relation to questions of social belonging, cohesion and decolonisation and how these connect to problems of environmental transitions and climate justice


Facilitate collaborations that bring together scholars, activists, cultural producers and policy-makers

Facilitate collaborative interfaculty research projects that identify, categorise and connect theoretical work on social justice and just transitions across different disciplines

Facilitate collaborative interfaculty research projects that offer strong empirical engagement with questions of transitions and social justice and support comparative case studies of social justice struggles in the Global North, Global South and Global East

Develop a trajectory of socially engaged research and teaching in an interfaculty context

Facilitate regular research seminar meetings where group members can present their current research (e.g. research presentations, thematic sessions, literature discussions, incubator workshops etc.)

Facilitate collaborative research grant proposals and international collaborations

Facilitate interfaculty PhD positions and joint supervision

Who are we:

The group brings together researchers across different faculties of the University of Groningen including Spatial Sciences, Arts, Law, Theology and Religious Studies, and Campus Fryslan whose work deals with political and social transformations and social justice struggles across different temporal and geographical contexts.

Furthermore, the group works closely with and brings together practitioners in the fields of policy-making, civic education, media archives and museums.

The research group builds from and expands the already existing collaborations of its members including the work within the RG Theories from the Global South and East of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies and organisation of multiple conferences and workshops.


Sander van Lanen (Faculty of Arts, European Culture and Literature)

  • Tel. 050 36 33888

  • E-mail:

Ksenia Robbe (Faculty of Arts, European Culture and Literature)

  • E-mail:

Senka Neumann-Stanivukovic. (Faculty of Arts, International Relations),

  • Tel. +31 50 36 35546

  • E-mail:

Group members:

  • Ethemcan Turhan (Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Spatial Planning and Environment)
  • Iva PeŇ°a (Faculty of Arts, Contemporary History)
  • Joram Tarusarira (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies)
  • Magdalena König (Faculty of Arts, International Relations)
  • Caitlin Ryan (Faculty of Arts, International Relations)
  • Eske van Gils (Faculty of Arts, International Relations)
  • Yuliya Hilevych (Faculty of Arts, History)
  • Ina Horlings (Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Planning)
  • Christian Lamker (Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Planning)
  • Michel Vols (Faculty of Law, General Law Studies and History of Law)
  • Maeve McKeown (Campus Fryslan, Political Theory)
Last modified:02 November 2023 3.25 p.m.
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