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Class of 2023

It is with great pleasure that we present the Class of 2023. Every year around 20 PhD-candidates from universities in the Netherlands and Belgium start with our PhD training program. Below the first PhD Candidates of the Class of 2023 introduce their PhD projects to you, throughout this year, more PhD candidates that join our training program will be featured on this page.

Nurianne Arias Helder

University of Aruba

It is likely that everyone will experience a sort of disability at some point in their life. The numbers are steadily increasing worldwide. According to WHO, 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability (WHO, 2022). Around the world, 1 in 7 persons lives with a disability of which 80% is invisible (Hidden Disabilities Store, 2022). People living with disabilities are often victims of stigma and discrimination. Disabilities influence not only the living of individuals but also their daily functioning and those surrounding them. It is even more challenging for those living with an invisible disability (such as chronic pain and mental health challenges) due to the difficulty of immediate detection. These conditions have a significant impact on the day-to-day life of individuals (Hidden Disabilities Store, 2022). In Aruba, there is a huge concern for non-communicable diseases and mental health challenges. There have been growing numbers of individuals seeking mental health support related or not related to pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, some are wait-listed due to limited capacity and remain untreated for a relatively long period of time while they continue their daily activities. Therefore, the aim of my research is to empower, stimulate and fortify communities of practice to create strong support systems (educational, personal, behavioral support) for those living with an invisible disability while creating a more health-resilient community on the individual and community level.

Lea Becher

Erasmus University Rotterdam

My name is Lea and I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. My research is part of the “post-pandemic economic governance amidst politicisation (PEGAP)” project. I will evaluate the compliance of member states with EU reform recommendations, focusing on Germany and the Netherlands. For each country one fiscal and one socio-economic policy will be analysed using qualitative methods.

Rieneke Brand

Radboud University Nijmegen

In 2021, the Dutch parliament passed a renewed law on citizenship education for elementary school, secondary schools and secondary vocational education. This law requires schools to teach (about) certain democratic values and to create a culture in line with those democratic values. In my research, I will analyze the legislative history to examine the law's underlying assumptions about citizenship and democracy. I will also review the current scholarly literature about citizenship education and how the literature relates to the underlying assumptions of the law. Finally, I hope to explore how different secondary schools integrate citizenship education into their curriculum and how they approach 'good citizenship' from their pedagogical, philosophical and/or theological perspective on citizenship and education.

Niels Broekman

Radboud University Nijmegen

In the past few years, housing prices in the Netherlands and beyond have risen considerably. These rising prices have put stress on the budgets of many people and even put housing out of reach for some. Political and social consequences seem to follow. In my PhD research I seek to provide explanations as to why and how these forces are taking shape. To do so, I will make use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. I hope to be able to combine insights of a variety of sociology and political economy perspectives to formulate a theoretical framework.

Archer Buissink

Utrecht University

I am a PhD candidate at the Utrecht University School of Governance researching regulatory practices for digital labour platforms such as Thuisbezorgd. I am a Dutch-New Zealander and previously studied Sociology, Employment Relations, and European languages in New Zealand. I am enjoying combining my previous areas of study with a new focus on (Dutch) public administration and I look forward to developing in this emerging area of technological and labour administration. I hope that my PhD research will be able to better inform policy makers, regulators, and social partners of regulatory options in this important area of contemporary political economy.

Núria Coma-Cros Espejo

Erasmus University Rotterdam

I am a PhD candidate working at the department of Public Administration and Sociology at Erasmus University of Rotterdam. My research is part of the PATH2ZERO project, which aims to contribute to the sustainable transition of the Dutch inland shipping sector. Specifically, I work on to the creation of governance strategies to reach a zero-emission inland shipping sector by 2050. These governance strategies will be dynamic and adaptive to deal with the uncertainty and volatility of the future.

Dore Engbersen

Wageningen University

I am a PhD candidate at the Public Administration and Policy group of Wageningen University. My research is part of the MANTRA project that aims to create climate adaptation measures for healthy rural areas of The Netherlands. Specifically, I focus on the role of the design of participatory governance arrangements in stimulating transformative climate adaptation. Success factors of participatory design will be identified through a combination of qualitative, quantitative, and quasi-experimental methods. These factors will be applied, tested, and evaluated in three rural labs to establish a theoretical framework for participatory governance arrangements that aim to create transformative change.

Thais Franken

University of Aruba

Thais Franken is a lecturer and researcher in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Aruba. She has a background in Public Policy and Human Development with a specialization in “innovation, institutions & development”. Her PhD research is focused on identifying formal and informal civil society networks in the socio-cultural sector of small island states within the Dutch Kingdom and analyzing their impact on participatory governance and policy making. Human behavior, social networks, and civil society are closely interwoven. Understanding their interaction is critical for designing effective public policies on small island states, which since COVID-19 are now more crucial than ever. This comparative research will attempt to capture the effectiveness of the existing socio-cultural CSO networks between Aruba and Bonaire as two separate subnational jurisdictions case studies within the Dutch Kingdom.

Hemin Hawezy

Leiden University

--Enhancing governance in the public digitalization domain through the lens of Network Governance. -- The research aims to delve deeply into the complex realm of digital governance within the Dutch Central Government. As the digital landscape evolves rapidly, understanding the intricacies of digitalization strategies and their impact on governance structures is vital. The study will analyze existing digitalization initiatives, focusing on governance frameworks, policy implementation, and stakeholder engagement. By identifying challenges and opportunities, the research seeks to propose innovative strategies and best practices. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the efficiency of government operations, ensure transparency in decision-making processes, and improve public service delivery, fostering a more responsive and digitally resilient government.

Roos Hofstra

Radboud University Nijmegen

I am a PhD candidate in Public Administration and Business Administration at Radboud University. My research focuses on the adaption of the internal organization of municipalities in support of new more ‘integrated’ governance models. Specifically, I focus on a particular new form of governance in the Netherlands, opgavegericht werken. An increasing number of local governments have adopted this new approach to tackle societal issues, but academic knowledge is still lacking. In this project, we set out to combine insights from business administration (on both structures and competencies) and public administration (about the transformed governance of local services and management) to identify bottlenecks in current designs of the internal organizations of municipalities, and to identify ‘best practices’.

Manon Koopman

Erasmus University Rotterdam

I am a PhD candidate working at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. My research focuses on the integrity of local government, with specific attention to three areas of study. The main topics include; the role of interaction and moral decision making within the municipal executive board, the role of (interactions with) civil servants and the role of integritism in aldermen’s moral decision-making processes.

Lizette Krist

Erasmus University Rotterdam

My name is Lizette, I’m a PhD candidate with the Erasmus School for Health Policy and Management. I am a health scientist with a background in HIV prevention and access to care and I will be working on the ‘Grip op Onbegrip’ program. I will be researching the learning and improvement processes of regional networks aiming to improve the access to care and support for people with misunderstood behavior. I’m especially interested in how experience experts shape the focus and execution of interventions throughout the social, (health) care, and safety domains.

Ella MacLaughlin

Utrecht University

My name is Ella MacLaughlin, and I am a PhD candidate at Utrecht University's School of Governance. I work within Barbara Vis' ERC consolidator grant project "RADIUNCE", in which we study how politicians respond to radically uncertain phenomena (e.g. the initial COVID response, or the future impacts of Brexit). My research approaches this topic through mixed methods and with an interdisciplinary perspective - combining insights from psychology, political science, and economics - to study how politicians behave when faced with a situation so ambiguous that there exists a plethora of "unknown unknowns."

Laura Polfliet

Erasmus University Rotterdam

The research topic of my PhD is 'regional development of general medical care in the Netherlands'. The research is part of the collaboration between healthcare providers, ESHPM Erasmus University Rotterdam, Vilans and VWS. The research focuses on improving and learning about regional cooperation between care organizations and care domains. The research mainly uses qualitative research methods. We mainly focus on participatory observation, for example in administrative consultations, and 'shadowing'. The resulting data is supplemented with in-depth interviews and document analysis. We regularly organize feedback and reflexive sessions with stakeholders to share interim findings of the research.

Estella Posthuma

Erasmus University Rotterdam

My name is Estella Posthuma and I am a PhD candidate at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management. I plan to research the regionalization of long-term (medical) care within the Dutch healthcare system. And more specifically, I will focus on how regionalization will influence healthcare practices. In the past three years different initiatives has started around the topic of regionalization of long-term care. I will follow these initiatives in different regions in the Netherlands through ethnographic research. After this, I will evaluate and share the good practices and lessons learned among these regional collaborations through action research.

Puck Overhaart

Radboud University Nijmegen

My research is situated in the departments of Political Science and Public Administration at Radboud University, and will focus on the interactions between European institutions and EU member states in the enforcement of EU law. I am specifically interested in the role played by the increased politicisation of the EU. I will try to understand how institutions and member states use strategies to (de)politicise enforcement, and how and why member states interact with the Commission to encourage or prevent the enforcing of EU policies and law. This will be done using mixed-methods research and by bringing together literatures on EU politicisation, enforcement and institutional interactions.

Chiara Russo

University of Antwerp

My name is Chiara and I am a PhD researcher at the University of Antwerp. My PhD is embedded within the ROBUST project, on Crisis Governance in Turbulent Times. Funded by Horizon Europe, this project aims at operationalizing robust crisis governance, shifting the paradigm from "resilience" to "robustness". In particular, I will focus on societal intelligence, one of the independent variables identified. Starting from the Covid-19 case, I will investigate what constitutes empowering knowledge, how the latter is negotiated in interfaces between experts, citizens, and policy makers, and information processing strategies at the national level. Other important keywords in my research are uncertainty, cognitive authority, and post-normal science.

Stefano Scibilia

Erasmus University Rotterdam

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EU has launched the NextGenerationEU program, investing more than 800 billion Euros in digital transformation, public health, and green economy. Member countries can access these funds given their compliance to the set of reforms contained within the European Semester, the EU annual cycle of fiscal and socio-economic governance. My research focuses on Italy and Spain, the two largest recipients of the program. Considering the NextGenerationEU as treatment, I intend to evaluate if this new incentive regime will push Italy and Spain towards enacting EU backed reforms with a higher degree of success than in the past.

Marit Schubad

Leiden University

I am a PhD-candidate at the Institute of Public Administration at Leiden University. My research focusses on customization, leadership and psychological safety in public organizations, with a specific focus on the domains of health and social care. As this PhD project is funded by the Municipality of The Hague, it aims to narrow the bridge between practice and science.

Julia Starrenburg

Tilburg University

I’m a PhD candidate at the Department of Public Law and Governance at Tilburg University. In my research, I will look into ‘hybrid democratic innovations’, new participatory processes in which forms of plebiscitary (vote-centric) and deliberative (talk-centric) democracy are combined. Central to my research is the question how these forms of democracy can be combined and to what extent such combinations can strengthen the Dutch representative democracy. I will be focusing on the institutional design of hybrid participatory processes and the effects on inclusiveness. This PhD is part of the REDRESS (Revitalized Democracy for Resilient Societies) project.

Olaf van der Veen

Utrecht University

I am a PhD researcher in the RADIUNCE (Radical Uncertainty) project at Utrecht University School of Governance. The project focuses on how politicians respond to different types of uncertain phenomena. We will examine among other things whether and how the behavioral responses to uncertainty are shaped by politicians’ characteristics, like personality, and by institutional factors, like the political system. My research in particular will focus on identifying and mapping political elites’ perceived uncertainty. I will analyse speeches and Tweets using automated text analysis tools to figure out when and how politicians express uncertainty.

Rowena Zweet

Radboud University Nijmegen

I am PhD-candidate at the department of Public Administration at Radboud University. My research focuses on the development of an integral safety assessment of new technologies and processes for the transition of the chemical industry.