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Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development
Bringing sustainability science forward

Environmental Heritage Research Group

Environmental heritage enables communities to consolidate their sense of identity and place. Engaging with Anthropocene legacies increases environmental stewardship. This research group brings environmental and heritage sciences together to understand past and recent human ecosystems, and mobilise this knowledge in conservation and restoration practice.

Governmental and non-governmental organisations across the globe are on an ambitious path to restore ‘nature’. They also want to achieve the transition to sustainable food production, and strive to provide equitable access to well-being - such as education, culture, nature etc -  among humans, and other sentient beings. 

This research group engages with these goals by approaching the present and the future as continuums of the past. Sustainable visions in conservation and restoration take data from palaeosciences (archaeology, ancient DNA, historical ecology etc) into account to model future ecosystems. These are called historical baseline data. They are information from the past that serves as a reference point for modelling, understanding and assessing changes in various aspects of a subject, such as the environment or societal conditions. Understandings of historically resilient social-ecological systems inform food security and climate adaptation plans.

Such data and historical analysis become mobilised when it is transcribed into environmental heritage - that is: when scientific studies on the reciprocal relationship between engineered ecosystems and human societies become known among communities beyond academia.


Our research group aims to practise engaged, transdisciplinary science. In that science we will integrate the tools from archaeological science, palaeobiology, history, and heritage science with restoration ecology, technology, and community-based conservation practice. 

To this end, we want to become a platform:

  • To mobilise the existing - but largely disconnected - resources and expertise at the RUG, northern Netherlands, and beyond. 

  • To co-innovate in science and heritage-based approaches to understand and create resilient socio-ecological systems. 

  • To involve a wide-range of disciplines and societal partners. Together we establish a sustainable, science- and society-based conservation culture and ethos in the Netherlands and beyond. 

  • To transform transdisciplinary research into multi-sectoral action. Action that will consolidate citizens’ environmental stewardship values and behaviour. 


Dr. C. Çakırlar, Faculty of Arts

  • Tel. 050 36 3636732
  • E-mail: c.cakirlar

Prof. L. Govers, Faculty of Science and Engineering

  • E-mail: l.l.govers

Dr.  D. Vos, Faculty of Spatial Sciences

  • E-mail: d.vos

Dr. W. de Kock, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Science and Engineering

  • E-mail:

Last modified:01 February 2024 11.35 a.m.
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